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Wine of the Week for week ending 19 Jul 2009
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Unison Classic Blend 2006
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

With the emphasis on Hawkes Bay wine this past week, with the Hot Red Road Show coming to town, we settled down at home to taste a few wines blind.

This one, from the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay, really took our fancy.

Unison Hawke's Bay 2006 is a concentrated blackberry red colour - dense and bright. Cedary and meaty on the nose with red berries, vanilla and an almost floral overlay, it is a little chocolatey in the palate with well balanced underlying acidity to the ripe cherry, plum and cassis fruit. Add cigar box, violets, dried herbs and just a little tickle of peppery spice - actually its very dry on the finish and gives the impression it might just have some Syrah. However the meaty, leathery Merlot seems the dominant component with a touch of Cabernet of some kind. Tannins are firm and structured and even though it's a 2006, the wine is still quite tight. There's a brightness to the succulent flavours that linger. It's a wine with a "sweeter" profile, smooth tannins, a spicy disposition and a pretty floral lift to the finish - uniquely Hawkes Bay and very very nice.

So after the tasting we were able to reveal the bottle and this indeed has some Syrah - the back label stating a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah - proportions not stated. It has 13.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a Diam closure. This wine has a price tage of $26.95 on release.

From the 2007 vintage, this will be renamed the 'Unison Classic Blend' - that's a good move because it will make it easier not to confuse with the premium classic 'Unison Selection'.

Unison Hawkes Bay 2006 is a Bruce and Anna Barbara Helliwell wine, made prior to the new owners, Phillip and Terry Horn, taking over. While Bruce Helliwell stayed on as consultant for the 2008 vintage, Jenny Dobson (formerly of Te Awa) is now consultant winemaker and 2009 is her vintage.

Unison is a label that has a cult following from those in the know. I'll be watching with interest the evolution of Unison's wines in the future.

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© Sue Courtney
13 Jul 2009

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