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Wine of the Week for week ending 3 Aug 2008
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Trinity Hill Black Label Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2006
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Wanting to try something different, how unusually different is a New Zealand version of the Spanish grape, Tempranillo? Considering that, at this stage, Trinity Hill is the only commercial producer of the variety, I'd say very different. And there in the tasting box was Trinity Hill Black Label Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2006. The Diam cork was pulled out and the wine poured to taste.

In the glass it's a deep, saturated, dark plummy red with a touch of violet and crimson to the edges. Aromas are smoky and savoury - just a little bit different to the norm to typical New Zealand wines - with red fruit, tobacco and hints of spice. The taste is different too - and that's a good thing really. It's on the medium side of full-bodied in weight and quite savoury with a fruit cake cherry sweetness, a touch of tar and firm tannins. There's an interesting charcoal undercurrent and while there are herbs, tobacco and acidity adding lift and musky nuances adding perfume to the red fruit flavours that are ripe and sweet, there's a nuttiness to the finish too.

I tried the 'droplet on the tongue test', accidentally discovered with Sacred Hill's Wine Thief Series Syrah 2006 (see last week's Wine of the Week) and tasted an explosion of inviting cherry and chocolate.

This is so much a food wine and after my successful food match for the Trinity Hill Tempranillo 2005 of venison sausages and a sauce made from reduced pinot noir and cranberry jelly, I decided to try something similar.

This time it was a tender venison backstrap - beautifully cooked, just seasoned with pepper and seared in oil on both sides until rare then rested. It was sliced and served with a tangy redcurrant jelly sauce that was made from 3 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly, the juice and some zest from an almost ripe tangelo, a dash or three of Worchester sauce, a teaspoon of mustard and a little water. When the jelly had dissolved, the red wine was added the mixture reduced to 'jus' consistency. Well the venison and the sauce were beautiful together but when tasted with the wine, the combination was not as 'wow' as I would have liked. The food components all seemed a little sweet. It was better with the left over Shipwreck Bay Merlot Cabernet 2004 that was used in the cooking.

Best to ask the experts, I thought, and so I emailed Anthea at Trinity Hill who replied, "we suggest the obvious: red meat with the Tempranillo and I would add esp with some good spicy flavourings like sumac or accompanied with a tamarillo / damson plum sauce or reduction. The dish would need to be of a good weight to balance the wine. Maybe a good hearty winter casserole! " She was writing on a grey, drab day in the Hawkes Bay.

I love tamarillos and these delicious tart tangy fruit are at the height of the season right now. We bought lamb backstraps too. These were marinated in some soy sauce, a little olive oil, salt, pepper and sumac spice while I made a cabernet merlot version of my favourite tamarillo jus - my own creation and posted in my Food Files in 2001 although a company called Incredible Edibles recently circulated my recipe without any attribution :-( .

We served the backstraps almost immediately, which is probably not the right thing to do (meat should be rested to 'fix' the juices). So when they were cut the juices were released and infused the jus, which made it extra tasty. Anthea was right - this tasty tender lamb was strongly flavoured and the combination of sumac in the marinade and the tamarillos worked an absolute treat. It was a prefect match to the Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2006.

I see from the Trinity Hill website this wine is now sold out at the winery. So if you spot it in a wine shop or have some stored away in your cellar, you are in for a treat. It is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 7% Malbec, 3% Syrah which was matured for 14 months in older French & American oak barriques. Alcohol volume is 13.5%.
More info from

© Sue Courtney
27 Jul 2008

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