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Wine of the Week for week ending 14 Oct 2007
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Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Syrah 2006
Bilancia 'La Collina' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005

New Zealand is in mourning. It's because the most unbelievable thing happened. Our national team lost a game of rugby. But not just any game. It was the quarter finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, a competition that the All Blacks were the favourites to win. But they lost.

What could be more appropriate to cry into your glass with, than the Weeping Sands Syrah 2006 from Waiheke Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. This is a startling New Zealand Syrah for under $30 a bottle. It's rich and dense in its saturated purple crimson colour and smells bright and inviting with cherry, pepper, chocolate and later hints of coconut oak with deep, concentrated flavours that have a vanillin lift to the long, full, juicy sweet finish. A dry wine with a grainy tannin structure, lots of sweet spices, hints of nutmeg, chocolate wheaten biscuits, succulent plum and cherry fruit and a plush velvety richness to the savoury spicy oak, it's still a baby but the excellence is definitely there.

It was a good season on Waiheke Island for Syrah, as we've seen with other wines like Passage Rock and Awaroa, so far from the island's vintage. This single vineyard wine from Obsidian Vineyard in Onetangi, has nicely proportioned alcohol (14%) and acidity (6.6 g/l) and was aged in 40% new American oak and 60% seasoned oak for 12 months. It is closed with a screwcap. Click on to find out more.

So now I've cried, I've wept into my glass and I'm over it. Because you have to get over it. You have to move on. In Hawkes Bay they are probably over it too. In Hawkes Bay the rugby heads are celebrating. That's because their team, the Magpies did the unbelievable and beat last year's Champions, Waikato, for a place in the semi finals next week.

One person I know who'll be happy about this is Bilancia and Trinity Hill winemaker, Warren Gibson. I've been following Warren's progress on Virtual Rugby. He usually backs Hawkes Bay religiously but this week, for some reason, even he thought the task was too big and took the other team to win.

I'm also following the progress of his wine. The Trinity Hill Black Label Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2006 has just taken the Trophy for Champion Syrah at the Liquorland Top 100. I haven't tasted that wine yet but I have just tasted the latest that he and partner Lorraine Leheney have produced from the 'Collina' hill side vineyard.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2005 is also deep in colour, a deep bright purple crimson with a violet richness to the hue. On the nose it's rich, ripe and succulent smelling with abundant rose pepper and a marzipan overlay to the concentrated sweet berry fruit scents. A huge wine in the palate, floral and spicy, hot and peppery, dry and silky with red and black berry fruits, a plushness to the powerful meaty tannins and a lovely depth of dark, savoury oak. Violets emerge on the focussed, fragrant finish that has excellent persistence and a subtle hint of anise with chocolate and cream. It's very young and needs time to evolve. There's 2% Viognier in the wine, which spent 22 months in French Burgundy barrels, 90% new. The wine has 14% alcohol and is sealed with a Diam cork. It costs about $80 a bottle. Click on to find out more.

To accompany the wines, a kind of Mulled Duck was served. Duck legs were poached for 20 minutes in a pot of water which had star anise, coriander seeds, whole cloves, a short stick of cinnamon, whole black pepper corns, a tablespoon of Tamari and a whole clove of garlic added. The pot was then put aside for about another twenty minutes to continue the cooking off the heat. The duck legs were removed on to a rack to dry. Excess fat was patted off with a paper towel then the duck legs were quickly sizzled in a frying pan to crisp up the skin. They were finished off in the oven while covered with foil to stop them drying out.

They were served with a red wine reduction and tangelo sauce. Two tangelos were zested and the zest was sauteed in a little butter. Then the juice of one of the big juicy tangelos was added and lastly half a cup of red wine reduction sauce that I had made a couple of weeks ago from some left over wine.

The Mulled Duck and Citrus Infused Red Wine Reduction sauce worked a treat with these two wines.

As for the rugby. Go the Magpies in the semis. It could be a hard call, though, as it looks like they'll be playing the Auks.

© Sue Courtney
7 Oct 2007

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