Move over Cabernet and Merlot, especially on Waiheke Island. Syrah is muscling in on your once dominant territory and if the new breed of Syrah producers on Waiheke are anything to go by it's easy to see why. I've just attended a Waiheke Island wine tasting where Syrah was definitely a star.
Passage Rock Wines has long set the Syrah scene with their opulent wines that have continued to excite since the debut vintage in 2001 - exciting not only palates like mine, but the all important wine show judges have rewarded these wines, vintage after vintage, with gold medal awards.
Now newcomer 'The Hay Paddock' is emulating that success and creating instant international interest after winning a gold medal at the 2009 London International Wine Challenge for the second label 'The Harvest Man Syrah 2007'.
But it is the Syrah from the organic Awaroa Vineyard that once again has me besotted. Two years ago I reviewed the 2006 from this vineyard as the Wine of the Week. Now it's the turn of the yet to be released 2008, that even Awaroa regard as their best to date.
Awaroa Reserve 'Melba Peach' Syrah 2008 is shiny blackcurrant red - deep and dense in appearance. The aromas are inviting and exciting - perfumed, floral, black and white pepper, dried herb and intensely concentrated black and red fruits. In the sweet, juicy, fine textured palate there's cherry and blackberry fruit to the fore with some vanillin influence to the peppery profile together with rose petal, cedar, spice box and hints of anise and liquorice. Succulent with a silky supple tannin structure, there's an intense, creamy, red wineyness about it. It is gently mouthfilling in the most beautifully harmonious way. In fact it is quite irresistible already. And for those who want a score, it's an easy Five Stars.
The wine is not due for release until September, but this wine is just so delicious and juicy, those that want to know about it, need to know about it now so they can put their names down for this treasure.
There is no Awaroa website, but you can find details on www.waihekewine.co.nz
or contact winemaker Steve Poletti - firstname.lastname@example.org
We matched this wine to a lamb shoulder chop casserole - cooked slowly with port wine, tomatoes, onion, carrots, mushrooms and herbs - the juices concentrated with the slow cooking. Something in the food made the wine go so chocolatey and smoothed the tannins out like a satin sheet. An accidental match, perhaps, as these were leftovers from a couple of nights before - I had wanted to match the wine to fillet steak but you can't waste good food. The wine was also rather sumptuous with a creamy slice of Kikorangi blue spread onto a biscuit and topped with pear paste. You have to try these matches, otherwise you will never know if they work and miss out on the surprise when they do.
© Sue Courtney
15 Jun 2009