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edited by Sue Courtney

Wine Reviews - Shiraz / Syrah
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 23 May 2018

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Shiraz notes, listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

[2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [older] [index]

2016 Vintage [top] [index]

Coopers Creek Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2016 (sc) The colour is a bright pinky / crimson cherry jam red. The bouquet is concentrated and generous with succulent, almost jammy, berry fruit infused with chocolatey oak. It seems quite dry on first tasting with toasted spices and a slight hint of pepper but becomes more and more succulent as the berry and plum fruit pushes through to tame the tannins to leave a mouth-coating, vibrantly lifted finish. Gold and Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 29Nov2017.
This is a deep dark red in the glass with crimson edges. The bouquet emanates blackcurrants, leather and cedar while black pepper is harmonious in the dry yet silky, succulent palate that’s full of dark fruit, dark oak, cake spices and liquorice with a youthful brightness to the finish. Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 25Apr2018.

Mission Barrique Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2016 It's a deeply translucent cerise and the bouquet emanates berry fruit with hints of tobacco like a lightly-oaked European red. It’s fresh and fruity in the youthful medium-bodied fine-tannined palate with juicy blackberries and raspberries at first then becoming more savoury, smoky and complex with Syrah’s pepper signature more obvious on the finish. 14% alc. $19.99. 22Nov2017.

2015 Vintage [top] [index]

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (sc) There’s a youthful vibrancy to the purple red hue; the brooding berry fruit bouquet there's a hint of fennel seed (among the fragrant spices) together with, a hint of gunsmoke (barrel smoke) and mocha wafting thru. Mouthfilling and firm in the harmonious palate with signature pepper and an array of intriguing warm sweet spices (no clove, no cinnamon) infusing the juicy blackberry fruit flavours together with rose petal, sweet leather, a suggestion of chocolate dust and anise.. Five stars and number 3 in the latest Cuisine. Nice The kind of wine that will seem a little oxidised after a day in the open bottle. 14% alc. $36.99. 21Jun2017.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (sc) Bright blackberry red in the glass. The bouquet is aromatic and spicy with hints of smoked prosciutto and brambles. Brimming with luscious berry fruit in the palate that’s characterised by fine dry tannins, it’s mouthfilling and concentrated with toasted aromatic spices – more exotically spicy than peppery – with succulent redcurrant and mulberry fruit and a very long fine finish. Power with elegance. Gold AirNZ. 13.5%% alc. $27.99. 15Nov2017.

Mission Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (sc) Inky purple red. Peppery spices fill the bouquet together with vanilla, cedar and a touch of pencil. The pepper continues into the finely textured palate where hints of violets infuse the concentrated dark plum fruit and hints of chocolate emerge on the sweet oak finish. The tannins seem dry but nevertheless this is very supple and creamy in its flow, which makes it very approachable. 14% alc. $19.99. 12Oct2016.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (white label) (sc) Dense black cherry in hue. Peppery on the nose and soft in the palate with soft pinot noir-like tannin structure, red peppercorns, cake spices, dark cherry and blackberry fruit, and a meaty complexity to the savoury finish. A medium bodied, fresh, bright, easy drinking style with not too much influence of oak. A fantastic introduction to the Hawkes Bay syrah. 13% alc. $16.99. 18May2016.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (sc) Vibrant purple red in the glass with dark berries, cola and chocolate aromas and thick and firm in the mouthfilling palate with flavours reminiscent of purple plums, mulberries, black pepper and mocha with underlying fragrant herbs, savoury oak, touches of vanilla and a long, succulent, fulfilling and lingering finish. No 1 in Cuisine NZ Syrah tasting 2017. 13% alc. $19.99. 14Jun2017.

2014 Vintage [top] [index]

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Boysenberry red in hue with meaty aromas and concentrated in the palate with fine tannins, purple fruit and hints of anise. It seems very dark and savoury yet has an appealing spicy lift – more cake spices than pepper however – with some lovely vanilla tones coming through to balance the darkness and meaty notes to the fore as the aftertaste lingers. A deep dark savoury wine with moderately fine tannins, lovely fruit lift and touches of vanilla. 14.5% alc. $31.99. 1Jun2016.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Inky black with vivid purple edges. The bouquet is all ripe black cherries laced with a fruit cake richness, aromatic herbs and dark floral notes. It's full in the palate but not very peppery as one would expect from Syrah, instead a softer fruit cake spiciness with lifted red and black fruit, firm tannins, dry chocolate biscuits and a brooding savoury finish. While the tannins are moderately firm there is generosity to the wine and the finish is rounded with lively fruit presence. 14.5% alc. $24.99. 1Jun2016.
Impenetrable purple violet. Slightly jammy red fruit aromas with a hint of pepper and rosehip adding to the bouquet and syrah’s signature spice and pepper a feature in the palate. Full of juicy plum and dark cherry fruit almost heading towards raisins with fine textured supple tannins, creamy oak with a polished edge, a slightly meaty undercurrent with a hint of chicory and again that seductive floral (/rose potpourri) lift to the harmonious finish. 14.5% alc. $26.99. 21Jun2017.

Church Road TOM Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (c) Deep yet bright in the glass. The bouquet is fragrant, delicately floral – violets perhaps, with red and black fruit and hints of cake spices. Very aromatic and lifted in the palate with concentrated red and purple fruits – definitely some black forest cake macerated cherries in the mix, and the tannins are there, but they just float. Very fine, full and flavoursome with aromatic spices, hints of anise, a suggestion of dried herbs – elegant to the extreme. Made with cellaring potential in mind but seems remarkably approachable already. 14.5% alc. Cork. $199. 1Jun2016.
This initially reticent inky powerhouse opens up to reveal a delicate fragrance of warm spices, rich plummy fruit, hints of rose spice, tar, liquorice, black forest chocolate and leather – more powerful in the empty glass I could smell for a long time afterward. Juicy is the first taste impression - juicy plums and cherries over savoury French oak infused with toasted aromatic spices (that were eluded to in the Marzemino and in the bouquet of this) with a hint of liquorice and fine firm tannins with a supple flow. A heady and already harmonious Syrah with the alcohol sweetness masking the youthfulness (a little bit of a porty feel) and a peppery bite to the long dry finish, where the youthfulness is more apparent. 15% alc. $199. 21Jun2017.

Clearview Cape Kidnapper Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Inky blackberry red with a generous bouquet that offers up blackcurrant and cherry pie but it’s initially quite earthy, savoury and meaty in the palate with accents of pepper and spice, plush tannins and creamy oak. Full-bodied and mouthfilling - a beautifully ripe example with bright fruit flavours coming to the fore, well-balanced oak and a lingering savouriness. 14% alc. $22.99. 6Apr2016.

Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Chalk Ridge Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) This is co-fermented with Viognier which adds brightness to the deeply translucent pinky red hue and a delicate violet nuance to the cherry perfume. It’s medium bodied in palate weight with beautifully fine silky tannins, harmonious oak, plummy fruit and well balanced spiciness. Slips down easily. A charmer. Gold Easter Show. 13% alc. $21.99.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Luminous deep dark blue red with crimson edges, this is full-bodied, creamy and savoury with brooding smoky oak on the nose and firm meaty tannins in the palate with smoky char-grilled nuances, nicely balanced pepper notes, roasted spices and juicy fruits that are blue-black – like the colour. Deep, complex and tarry in a way – a contrast of dry tannins and succulence with suggestions of vanilla berry cream on the long juicy finish. A super expression of the variety to drink now with food or cellar. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 18Nov2015.

Goldie Estate Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah 2014 (sc) Inky vibrant blackberry hue. Earthy, gamey, savoury, peppery, sappy oak aroma. Juicy and succulent to the taste with plush velvety tannins, loads and loads of green and black pepper, lovely underlying chocolate, cream and vanilla notes, hints of cake spices and a long mouthfilling finish. 14.5% alc. $45.99. 8Mar2017.

Matua Matheson Single Vineyard Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Intense in its purple red colour; vanillin oak fills the bouquet with red berries and spice then in the palate there’s a soft façade to the muscular concentration with superb tannins that are rounded and full of finesse. A spicy wine — more cake spice than pepper however — with super ripe cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruit together with dried cake fruit mix, a hint of cherry chocolate, some herbal nuances and a savoury oak depth. Full-bodied and smooth in its flow with a lingering finish is terrifically juicy with loads and loads of flavour. Matured in French and American oak, this magnificent wine has a plethora of golds and trophies. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 13Jul2016.

Mills Reef Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Rich dark red. Creamy nose full of concentrated, intense, meaty nuances with a hint of berry. Spicy and bright in the firm, grippy, savoury and meaty palate with a tingle of zest and pepper in the background. Love the aftertaste 13.5% alc. $18.00. 13Dec2015.

Mills Reef Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Inky black red with a crimson edge. The nose is deep, dark and meaty them in the palate there bright red berry fruits that balance the savoury nature, then something that reminds me of Tiger ice cream (chocolate, ginger and vanilla) . Smooth and creamy yet with a kick-in-the-guts oomph. A medium to full bodied wine with creamy oak and juicy red berry fruit - it's like a black forest chocolate smoothie with no green/herbal notes at all. A gutsy wine that needs food. % alc. $24.95. 4Mar2016.

Mission Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014 (sc) Vivid purple black. Just a hint of pepper of the dark fruited nose but immediately peppery and spicy in the palate with juicy purple plum and black cherry fruit, creamy oak, fleshy tannins and a smooth finish with the finest layer of chocolate. Succulent yet dry, it’s a deliciously fruity style. Gold Easter Show. 14% alc. $19.99. 24Feb2016.

Rod McDonald Wines One Off Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Bright in the glass. Concentrated on the nose with creamy oak, a touch of chocolate, ground coffee and hints of bottled cherries following through to the quite savoury and complex palate. There is a myriad of flavours both sweet and savoury with plum and cherry fruit concentration and touches of game, leather and black pepper. The firm tannins have a rubbed velvet feel and the finish is incredibly dry but also intensely succulent and long. Grown on red metal soils in the Bridge Pa district. 13% alc. $27.99. 9Nov2016.

Rod McDonald Wines Te Awanga Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Bright in the glass with a bouquet of polished oak, leather, red fruit compote, spices and bramble leaf. Firm and dry in the palate with chalky tannins, the crispy edges of roasted meat and plums and red berries brightened by accents of pepper. Medium to full-bodied with a supple feel to the lightly creamy finish where the fragrance of the wine is heightened with a suggestion of rosehips. From the Gimblett Gravels sub-region. 12.5% alc. $21.99. 9Nov2016.

Saint Clair Premium Selection Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014 (sc) This tasty wine seduces not only with its deep crimson red colour but also with its generous aromas and flavours. Pepper and stands out on both the dark-fruited nose and in the creamy palate that’s accented with leather and tar and the intriguing ‘rose spice’ character of the Syrah grape that does so well in Hawkes Bay. It's firm yet juicy with blueberry, blackberry and dark plum fruit supported by fine acidity that will help this super priced wine to continue to evolve and excellent length. Silver Easter Show 2016 and Best Buy on the night. 13% alc. $13.99. 17Feb2016.

Te Rata Matakana Syrah 2014 (sc) Deep red black with moderate opacity. There’s chocolate on the nose with an earthy allure, and green and black pepper comes through in the soft, smooth, creamy, full-bodied palate full of dark fruit over a gamey, savoury backbone. Very popular on the night, it’s organic, natural wine suitable for vegans with low preservative, and ready to drink and enjoy now. 13% alc. $33.99. 6Sep2017.

Tohu Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) The colour is like a rich pinot noir in hue - a deep translucent ruby and a little lighter than what I was expecting. Loads of bittersweet red fruits on the nose with a delicate frame of red pepper - I'm thinking balsamic strawberries and later rose petals. Intriguing in the palate - a lighter bodied style in the context of NZ Syrah - but so definitely Syrah with its peppery nature. This is an interesting wine because while it initially tastes light it has vinosity and finesse. The tannins are silky and there are hints of violets as the wine develops - and chocolate - but invitingly savour, earthy and judiciously peppery. Seamless texture and flow, full of fruit on the finish, uncomplicated and just beautiful to drink. 13% alc. $27.95. 4Mar2016.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014 – pre release Vivid and lustrous boysenberry purple in colour. The nose is floral, like a delicately scented rose with a hint of vanilla and warm spices and the taste is savoury and spicy with bright fruit and firm tannins. All in all it's juicy and succulent with cake spices, hints of chocolate, dark cherries and a subtle smoky savouriness … a very attractive sensuous Syrah. Pre-release tasting 18May2016.

Trinity Hill Homage Syrah 2014 (c) The bouquet of this deeply coloured wine is open and glorious with floral nuances, hints of spice, a touch of chocolate and beautifully honed savoury oak. Then in the mouth the wine is complex and savoury with highlights of pepper, cake spices, anise and liquorice infusing juicy, succulent dark red berry and purple fruit flavours. Tannins are firm with a velvety edge and there's a savoury, tarry, meaty depth offset by a wonderful but indescribable vinous sweetness and concentration. The flow is like silk across the palate and there's a hint of chocolate on the warm full finish. 13% alc. Pre release tasting 18May2016.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Inky dark red with a concentrated creamy oak bouquet and a beguiling floral allure that reminds me of the heavenly red dianthus named ‘Passion’. The taste is bright and juicy with chocolate biscuits (Cameo Cremes come to mind), hints of violets, an enticing savoury depth and a smoky oak finish. There’s something rather beautiful and elegant about this youthful wine and while the biscuity tannins are fresh the overall impression is succulence and drinkability. This new release punches well above its price point. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 11Nov2015.
Inky blackberry red. Jammy on the bouquet with savoury undertones of tar and pepper lifted with hints of violets and cake spices. Initially seems very dry with its firm assertive tannins but the generous fruit and the creamy oak tone it down nicely and it becomes quite silky in its flow. A beautifully structured wine with blueberry and black cherry fruit, nutmeg, anise and again a hint of violets, and the finish is long and savoury with a touch of cocoa emerging as the wine lingers. Fabulous buy. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 22Jun2016.

Rich, deep black red with vibrant crimson edges. Savoury on the nose with crushed chocolate cream biscuits adding to the allure. Deep, rich and savoury to the taste with opulence to the succulent dark fruit that emerges from the brooding background where there are hints of tar, leather and pepper becoming concentrated and intense with fine, silky textured but moderately firm tannins and a long dry finish where the chocolate notes from the nose resurface and linger together with bright accents of raspberry. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 12Oct2016.
The colour is a saturated inky purple magenta. Chocolate and meaty spicy oak fill the bouquet and it has an initial medium-bodied feel with increasing concentration and suggestions of chocolate biscuits with a subtle nuance of mint, an earthy nuggety undercurrent, slightly furry tannins and a meaty finish with accents of pepper and lingering nuances of bbq'd pomegranate molasses. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 1Mar2017.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 (sc) Inky blackberry red. Crushed cameo crème biscuits on the nose. Very firm and dry in the full-bodied concentrated palate, heading towards blockbuster, with flavours of spiced plums, blueberries, red currant jelly, hints of liquorice, a harmonious touch of pepper and polished cedar. While the tannins seem unforgiving at the tasting tonight, this is a wine to buy and put away then bring out to show off to your best vinously minded friends in 2-3 years. . 13.5% alc. $49.99. 5Oct2016.

2013 Vintage [top] [index]

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) This inky purple red charmer has a bouquet that is all blueberries and plums with concentrated smoky oak and a smattering of pepper and the taste is dry, complex, full-bodied and savoury with plentiful fruit echoing the bouquet. Firm yet beautifully refined and svelte all the way through, it’s more savoury than fruity on the powerfully long finish with a hint of chocolate and a mouthfilling creaminess as the beautiful flavours linger. A lovely wine to sip and savour. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 2Dec2015.

Church Road Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Saturated dark crimson-edged black red. Great concentration of aromas - spicy, rich, intense and bright with a beautiful and attractive scent of creamy oak, nutmeg, hints of chocolate and cake spice. Quite spicy and lifted in the palate with an intense berry brightness, a light crackle of pepper and a long rich creamy finish with excellent fruit definition. 13% alc. $19.95. 13Dec2015.

Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (c) Saturated purple black. Quite meaty and savoury on the nose with violets and the most subtle suggestion of chocolate, and initially meaty and savoury in the mouth with a harmonious smattering of pepper and concentrated dark berry fruit that shimmers without taking a leading role. Then, as the wine traverses the palate, there's a little bit of tar, a little bit of leather, a little bit of pencil and even more pepper together with chicory. This striking wine envelopes the mouth with its firm structure while the magnificent aftertaste leaves behind a memory of vinous sweetness but of course the wine is completely dry. The star of the evening and after tasting you realise why the overseas critics who have just visited are simply raving about Hawkes Bay Syrah. 13% alc. $99.99. 17Feb2016.
The deep purple hue is almost lustrous in the glass, the bouquet is rich, dense and meaty with a delightful black cherry sweetness and it’s phenomenally smooth and silky in the palate with juicy ripe fruit balanced by the savouriness of the oak and the firmness of the melt-in-the-mouth tannins. Not overtly peppery, but there’s a tantalising whisper of spice with a nuance of chocolate on the fabulously long finish. All in all a pleasure to taste and savour with a touch of anise and lots, lots more as the wine evolves. I don’t normally like NZ Syrah but I really like this and while it is made to age it seems eminently drinkable already. 13% alc. $99.99. 15Feb2017.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) This is a massive wine from almost all angles. It's an inky black red colour with a shiny lustre; the bouquet is tar, roses and leather while black fruits, bitter chocolate, pepper and allspice are the key notes in the palate where tea-like tannins underpin the incredibly juicy fruit that emerge from under a leather wrapping. A blockbuster that has beautifully refined edges but is screaming out for food at this early stage of its life. 13.5% alc. $28.90. 27Aug2014.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Syrah 2013 (sc) Deep black red with quite a rich, meaty, savoury aroma – more European than Antipodean in style. The dry tannins dominate at first in the mouth yet the tannins are fine in their lasting impression with hallmark pepper, concentrated plum and mulberry fruit and a long spicy savoury finish. 14% alc. $33.99 . 6Jan2016.

Sacred Hill HALO Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Bright violet/purple-blue. Creamy vanillin oak, leathery notes, boysenberry fruit and peppery spices on the nose and it is all mocha, chicory and vanilla with a touch of dried herb in the palate where the tannins are firm yet with a velvety smooth flow and the red/black fruit is ripe with a juicy finish and zesty peppery zing. A medium-bodied style with structure and length - lots to like here. 12.5% alc. $29.99. 4Mar2016.

Saint Clair Premium Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Vibrant ruby purple with a velvety smooth smelling bouquet of vanillin oak and juicy black fruit - blackberry and boysenberry come foremost to mind with characteristic wafts of pepper. A rich, dense, meaty wine with lashings of pepper upfront in the palate and interlayers of juicy red and black fruit and tar - like hot mix after rain, with a touch of charred oak and mocha, and a firm dry finish with the underlying juicy succulence coming to the fore on the finish. 13% alc. $26.50. 28Oct2015.

Sileni Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Deep bright cerise, translucent in appearance. Nuances of pepper on the floral / berry nose. Spicy with juicy sweet fruit in the palate, finishing quite dry. Underlying cinnamon notes and subtle smoky nuances (although seemingly little influence of oak) and quite creamy on the meaty finish with a touch of pepper. 12.5% alc. $17.95. 12Nov2013.

Matua Lands & Legends Central Otago Syrah 2013 Bright inky black red with vivid crimson edges. The bouquet is smoky and creamy and spicy with red and black fruit and hints of green pepper and it is earthy, savoury and nuggetty in the palate, firm and tight in a way, with plump dark plum and blackcurrant fruit, a herbal (sous bois) undercurrent accented with zesty acidity and a green pepper bite that imparts a spicy heat. Tannins are plump and the finish is long and full with a creamy feel as the nuggetty flavours linger. Syrah from the snowline in Bendigo - it makes you wonder why so little is grown here. 14% alc. $24.99. 15Apr2015.

Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Brilliant purple crimson. Wonderfully aromatic with a bouquet of concentrated plum and leather aroma with smoky French oak, hints of violets, toasted aromatic spices and a judicious sprinkle of black pepper. Firm and velvety in the palate with layers of finesse, it is a wonderfully juicy wine with cake spices (cinnamon, clove, etc), rich purple fruits and a succulence black cherry sweetness that is so in harmony with the dark, meaty, leathery, smoky savoury backbone. Wonderful concentration, mouthfeel and length. 14% alc. $46.99. 1Oct2014.
Saturated inky purple red right to the fluorescent violet edges. A sweet berry fruit scent pulsates through the chocolatey oak bouquet with cake spices adding to the aromatic allure. Bright, lifted, full-bodied and creamy to the taste with a satin sheet and velvet robe texture, lifted red fruits reminiscent of chocolate coated redcurrants and cherries, beautifully balanced savoury oak and a succulent rounded finish. It's a wine you can almost chew as it's so luxurious and complex. While Nikolai says the 5% Viognier in the blend helps to fix the colour, I am sure it adds to the aromatic lift that comes through in the taste. Outstanding. 14% alc. $49.99. 15Apr2015.

Mills Reef Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) There's a luminous vivid crimson edge to this dark red hue. The aroma is savoury with a nuance of tar, bramble fruit, a twist of black pepper and a pleasing waft of vanillin oak, and the taste is full, rich and flavoursome with smoky oak, juicy red berries, baking spices, plush velvety tannins and a savoury undercurrent to the long creamy, seductive finish. Seductively delicious. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 22Oct2014.

Mudbrick Waiheke Island Reserve Syrah 2013 (sc) This purple-edged dark red beauty is a powerful wine with green peppercorn, fruit cake spice and camphor chest-like scents and rich ripe berry flavours with a game meat undercurrent and nuances of woody herbs. A full boded red with layers of complexity and a peppery kick to the finish that broadens and shows its potential as the flavours linger. A very good vintage and a very smart wine but still very young, firm and tight. 14.5% alc. $49.99. 16Jul2014.

Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2013 (sc) This is a deep dark red with a touch of crimson. There's a dark smoky cigar box-like aura infusing the plum and black cherry jam bouquet – it smells succulent, smooth and creamy but on first tasting the dryness of the wine and the tight-knit tannins are profound. It soon reveals blackberries and cream and the generous milk chocolate finish is long and flowing – all the upfront dryness has dissipated – and roasted spices and toasted oak accent the long creamy finish. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 15Nov2017.

Te Mata Bullnose Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (c) Vibrant crimson-edged inky purple black. At first the bouquet is dark, brooding and reticent but with a little coaxing fine scents of chocolate, rose hips and tar are revealed. A monumental and concentrated wine, as stellar as Cabernet with its French oak, purple fruit and fine firm tannin structure, though clearly Syrah with its crushed peppercorn signature there. Gamey savoury layers intertwine with super ripe plum and blackcurrant fruit and there’s a touch of dark chocolate and Vitamin B. This seriously young wine is firm and dry on the finish and even though the fruit sweetness wells up as the aftertaste lingers, it’s a wine to be cellared right now. 13.5% alc. $41.99. 25Mar2015.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Syrah 2013 (sc) Crimson-edged purple red hue with a creamy dark chocolate overlay to the blackberry and raspberry scent then in the palate upfront pepper, nutmeg and cake spices are a feature together with juicy raspberry fruit, hints of liquorice, woody herbs, fine tannins and a very dry finish. Shows potential but just needs a little more time. 13% alc. $16.99. 14May2014

The Landing Bay of Islands Northland Syrah 2013 (sc) Inky blackberry red with crimson edges. Dark creamy oak, dusty wild berries and peppery spices on the nose. It tastes concentrated, meaty and savoury with firm teeth-coating tannins and fruit that is just starting to mellow - think blackberry, black cherry and prunes together with chocolate and hints of anise and fruit-sweet high notes to the finish. With four years of age it is developing beautifully and would definitely tame a rare steak. 13.7% alc. $37.99. 8Mar2017.
This bright black-red hued Syrah is a big wine, the only indication of its age the mellow character that frames it. Green pepper and dried herb aromas mingle with the scent of chocolate-coated berries and syruppy chocolate is foremost in the firm dry palate with dark plums, pepper, mocha and vanilla adding to the sumptuous complexity with creamy oak a feature on the silky finish. Gold Easter Show. 13.7% alc. $35.99. 25Apr2018.

Trinity Hill Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2013 (sc) The bouquet of this inky boysenberry red-hued wine is peppery, spicy, savoury, leathery and while it seems quite smooth on entry to the palate the tannins become quite assertive on the finish. Full-bodied, complex and mouthfilling with peppery spices, camphor and sandalwood and a rich, meaty depth that's lifted by the brightness of the concentrated black and purple fruit. The lingering aftertaste is all succulence with red berries, including strawberries adding to the vinous allure. 13% alc. $28.99. 18May2016.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Rather more concentrated in its inky purple red hue, this is rather shy on the nose but makes up for this in the full-bodied, concentrated, meaty palate. Dark and savoury tasting, yet quite lifted in the mid to front palate with blackberry and purple plum fruit and quite firm tannins at this stage of its life. An array of florals and aromatic spices add to its charm while a juicy vinous sweetness adorns the finish. Cheese works beautifully to cut through the tannins. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 19Nov2014.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013 (sc) Inky purple red with amazing saturation to the hue. The bouquet is dark fruited with hints of vanilla infusing sweet smoky oak and Syrah’s lovely signature floral notes adding its attractive allure. A mouthfilling, opulent, full-bodied, spicy, concentrated Syrah with a perfectly honed dash of pepper that adds zing and bite together with a game meat richness and lovely dark fruit concentration. A touch of chocolate springs to mind and the tannins are firm yet succulent at the same time. 13.5% alc. $52.99. 11Nov2015.
Vivid inky purple red. A little waft of green pepper introduces the bouquet that unfurls to reveal gorgeous creamy vanillin oak, sweet leather, spices and cherries. Bright red and purple fruits in the palate are in harmony with the beautifully honed savoury oak with hints of mocha, chicory and pepper and fine tannins that underpin the creamy chocolatey finish. A beautifully refined savoury Syrah with a succulence all the way through, it’s quite outstanding and very delicious. Gold Easter Show. Gold Hawkes Bay Show. No. 1 in Cuisine’s 2015 NZ Syrah tasting. 13.5% alc. $52.99. 24Feb2016.

2012 Vintage [top] [index]

Coopers Creek SV Chalk Ridge Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 (sc) Youthful boysenberry red. Cedary oak, deli meats, pepper, leather, cake spices and red and black jubes on the nose. Quite crisp and fresh in the palate. A very 'purple' wine with violets and Black Doris plums coming to mind. The meaty character from the nose comes through, as does the pepper with some green pepper notes providing some edge. Tannins are fine yet exhibit some grip and there is a floral note to the finish where cocoa-like chocolate surges like waves. 13.5% alc. $30. 17Jun2014.

Crossroads Winemakers Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 (sc) Dark red with pepper accents on the earthy, savoury, slightly herbal nose that follow through to the palate. A savoury-tasting wine with green pepper notes, black olives and fruit that in my glass seems quite restrained. Tight and firm at this stage of its life yet there’s a succulence as it lingers, perhaps even a smidgen of bitter chocolate too. Would like to see it decanted, poured into a big glass and tasted alongside food. 13.5% alc. $38.99. 25Jun2014.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 (sc) Inky red black, it has oodles of pepper on the nose – a definite clue to the variety – with boysenberries and last night's barbecue cinders adding a subtle smoky intrigue. Firm, tight and structured in the palate, it is meaty and savoury with dark berry fruit and a desirable 'rose pepper' character. Rhone like in many respects and while very dry to start, the finish expands beautifully and the lingering aftertaste is generous and long. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 27Nov2013.

Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Syrah 2012 (sc) This is a big, earthy, savoury style of Syrah with a deep black-red colour, a slightly feral note to the leathery, dampened embers aroma and a little feral again in the palate where tight-knit tannins are a feature. This is a terrific example of the earthy, smoky side of Syrah with brooding red berry fruit humming along harmoniously in the background then bursting through with brightness on the finish along with a peppery zing. 14% alc. $51.99. 23Aug2017.

Mission Vineyard Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 (sc) Youthful ruby red. Pepper and leather on the nose and lashings of green and white pepper in the fresh, spicy and slightly edgy palate. Medium-bodied in style with raspberry and blackberry fruit, an earthy leathery undercurrent, hints of salami and smooth easy tannins but just a little short on the finish. 13% alc. $16.99. 30Apr2014.

Te Mata Estate Bullnose Syrah 2012 (c) The colour is deep blue-red and the bouquet emanates creamy oak, blue and black fruits and just a hint of anise. The fruit is ripe, soft and fleshy in the palate with firm but svelte tannins and a spicy brightness with upfront liquorice, anise and cake spices and an underlying hint of black pepper. A gamey savoury note comes through and the finish is long and rounded with a subtle suggestion of bitter chocolate and roasted rosemary as the flavours linger. Drinkable already – match to duck or game. 13% alc. $41.99. 14May2014

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 (sc) There's an almost scarlet glow to the edge of the inky black red hue. It's peppery on the nose with smoky oak and deep red fruit notes and has a peppery zing to the creamy oak palate with ripe berry fruit, smoky bacon, underlying woody herbs, firm dry tannins and hints of leather. The sensual smokiness is seductive at this wine's youthful stage of its life. 13% alc. $21.99. 5Mar2014.

2011 Vintage [top] [index]

Coopers Creek SV Chalk Ridge Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011 (sc) Vibrant purple red with a creamy nuance to the peppery scent, and smoothness to the texture. Medium to full-bodied with an intriguing herb character penetrating the spiced blackberry fruit with savoury oak in harmony and a finish that's firm.13.5% alc. $20.99. 6Mar2013.

Crossroads Winery Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011 (sc) While the bright garnet colour of a young Pinot Noir, the savoury, Euro-like slightly peppery bouquet suggests something different. The texture is soft and smooth and the taste is moderately dry with plummy fruit and a savoury spiciness to the finish. It's medium-bodied in palate weight and overall a little simple, but has a generosity which makes for easy drinking and, hey, look at the price. 13% alc. $14.99. 8May2013.

Te Awanga Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011 (sc) This inky purple red wine emanates pepper, pepper and more pepper. An extremely juicy wine with savoury oak, juicy red and purple fruit, a deep savouriness and a full bodied, creamy, almost chocolatey finish with a vibrancy of spiced berries lingering. One of Rod McDonald's own labels. 14% alc. $26.99. 6Mar2013.

Te Mania Nelson Syrah 2011 (sc) Purple crimson red coloured with a ripe red berry / vanilla / chicory / nut chocolate scent. But despite the flamboyant aromatics, it's presents as a brooding Syrah at this stage of its life with bay leaf, leather, nutmeg, red and black pepper and rose spice on the finish. Deep and rich with velvety smooth tannins, it opens up to impart succulence red fruit on the finish. A good match to BBQ'd steak. 12.5% alc. $21.99. 27Jan2013.

Waimea Nelson Syrah 2011 (sc) Dark red with a bouquet that reminds me of black and red jubes with smoky oak, tar and leather. Smooth on entry, it's creamy and spicy with abundant juicy raspberry and blackberry fruit with well-balanced savoury oak, a touch of pepper and mocha notes infusing the firm dry finish. Next day a dark chocolate meaty savouriness has evolved and the finish is juicy and fruit-sweet. A blend of 91.16% Syrah and 8.84% Viognier. 13% alc. $25.00. 27Jan2013.

2010 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension The Bandit Syrah Viognier 2010 (sc) Intense blackberry red coloured with a deep meaty aroma that wells up with sweet leather, cake spice, wild blackberries, dried rose and hints of anise. It's amazingly floral on first tasting (the 5% Viognier factor) with rose hip, cherry, cake spice, pepper, anise and leather. Tannins are firm and at this stage a little grippy and the finish is long, rich, meaty and savoury. A wine to enjoy now with something creamy or bloody to cut through the tannins. The 95% Syrah component comes from Paewhenua Island in Northland, the Viognier from Matakana. Aged in French oak for 12 months, 33% new. 14% alc. $49.00. 5May2011.

Bilancia Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Black purple red with a beautifully soft boysenberry cream, leather, old spice aroma, it tastes concentrated yet not overpowering, just harmonious and complete with ripe berry fruit, creamy oak, velvety tannins, rose spice nuances and a long, dry finish. The signature pepper of Syrah gently infuses the wine without intruding. 14% alc. $30.99. 16Nov2011.
Purple red with attractive rose musk nuances to the vanillin oak and red cherry bouquet, yet quite meaty in the palate with a touch of chicory and mocha. Toasty oak joins red fruits - there's even a smidgen of strawberry and firm tannins that integrate nicely leaving a fantastically long silky finish with a flourish of pepper and spiced cherry at the end. 14% alc. $34.99. 27Jun2012.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (c) This full-bodied concentrated wine is deep in colour with a sweet berry scent that interweaves with vanillin oak, allspice and an intriguing savoury inflection. The taste is firm and structured with muscular tannins, smoky cedary oak, lashings of pepper, dark chocolate, blackberry and raspberry jubes, mocha, a touch of herbs and a fresh dry finish. While a food friendly match now, it has excellent cellaring potential. 14.5% alc. $37.99. 6Feb2013.

Coopers Creek Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Deep, bright, plummy purple red with a bouquet that's full of chocolate and carnation with their peppery scent. Smooth in the palate with a fine tannin structure, vanilla adds a soft sweetness to the highly desirable pepper and liquorice characters with juicy red fruits and a lovely vibrancy to the lingering finish. Full-bodied, rich and very yummy indeed. 14% alc. $45. 17Aug2011.
Black in the core with a crimson red edge, this deliciously creamy, soft, supple Hawkes Bay Syrah has a chocolate carnation scent and is full of chocolate, red berries and spicy oak flavours with seductively smooth tannins and some chicory and mocha on the long succulent finish. A super smart wine and not overly peppery. 14% alc. $43.99. 29Feb2012.

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2010 - Hawkes Bay (c) Deep dark red with purple hues. Sweet smoky vanillin oak, violets and brambles fill the bouquet of this seemingly more immediately approachable, soft, sweet wine but that's in comparison to La Collina 09 (tasted beside it). It is in fact a rich, meaty full-bodied wine with a chocolate layer over a savoury earthy layer, chicory and allspice, brambly berries, luxurious tannins and a deep intensity to the long juicy finish. 13.5% alc. $93.99. 27Jun2012.

Craggy Range Single Vineyard Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010 (sc) Black purple red. Chocolate and chicory on the nose and juicy and succulent in the palate with smooth fine tannins, black forest chocolate, a lovely red pepper/spicy inflection and a long, dry, full-bodied finish. A seductive wine that's easy to enjoy already. Once known as Block 14, this excellent wine has 3% Viognier in the blend. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 7Mar2012.

Crossroads Winemakers Collection Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010 (sc) Deep purple red coloured and perfumed with violets, dried roses and a potpourri of herbs, this lovely wine has bright spicy red fruit / red currant flavours on a deep, dark, smoky oak backbone with firm velvet-edged tannins, juicy plum and blackberry coming through and a spicy savoury flourish with subtle nuances of pepper to the creamy finish. 14% alc. $34.99. 3Oct2012.
Deep purple red. Vanillin oak comes through on the balanced harmonious nose that hints of an overall more savoury style. Full of juicy ripe sweet plum and blackcurrant fruit with a spicy savoury backbone, this is a meaty wine with a smooth velvety texture, a whack of pepper and allspice and a seductive touch of Black Forest chocolate coming through. An exciting wine. 14% alc. $34.99. 23Jan2013.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Deep, bright, plummy purple red with a bright peppery aroma and a lovely spice infusion to the creamy smoky oak scent. It tastes deep, dark and rich with an earthy depth, plum and boysenberry fruit, soft suede-like tannins and a flourish of spice on the long juicy finish. Almost seamless in its flow, it's smooth, creamy and succulent with a hint of rose petal as it lingers. 13.5% alc. $34. 17Aug2011.
Dark purple red with dried herbs, creamy oak and pepper on the nose. Very dry and spicy in the palate with underlying vanillin sweetness, crushed velvet tannins and layers of chocolate, like a cream filled wafer biscuit – a crisp dryness and a creamy sweetness in harmony. The fruit is in the red spectrum – strawberries and cherries come to mind and the finish is quite savoury with a flourish of cracked pepper. 14% alc. $28.99. 3Apr2013.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Purple red colour - concentrated and deep. Earthy, savoury and iodine-like on the nose, a little barnyard too, this dry savoury muscular wine has a herbal undercurrent, peppery spices and a plummy sweetness adding succulence to the finish that lingers with a hint of chocolate and vanilla. 13.2% alc. $17.99. 6Jun2012.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels Victory Syrah 2010 – Hawkes Bay (sc) Dark red, almost black, with a deep dark, earthy scent infused with herbs, smoky French oak and dark berry nuances - it smells sensual and alluring and tastes juicy and succulent with firm, velvet-coated tannins. Crammed full of juicy red and black fruit with vanillin oak and sweet spices, it has a long creamy finish with a well-honed savoury undercurrent. Exciting Syrah. 14% alc. $28.99. 30Jan2013.

Mahurangi River Matakana Syrah 2010 (D) This dense meaty wine is infused with allspice, liquorice, chicory and cassis with a savoury mid palate and brightness to the finish. It’s a youthful saturated purple red colour with vanilla nuances, concentrated black cherries and a hint of tar to the scent. In the mouth it is medium to full-bodied with a silk-edged velvety texture that just flows. Mouthcoating and sensual with vanilla, cherry and rose petals lingering deliciously at the end. Divine with steak – the meat bringing out the hallmark peppery traits of the Syrah grape. Matured in French oak, 50% new, for 5 months. 14.5% alc. $45. 7Dec2012.

Matua Valley Reserve Release Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Blackberry purple red coloured with an attractively creamy, meaty, sweet vanilla and spicy oak scent. A ripe, fleshy, supple-textured wine that's medium to full-bodied, creamy and juicy with a lovely plum and black cherry fruit sweetness. A touch of chocolate, chicory, mocha adds to its appeal with a well-balanced sprinkling of red pepper and spice. Approachable wine with a firm full finish. 14% alc. $16.99. 11Apr2012.
Concentrated blue red. Blackberries, brambles, red liquorice and toasted spices on the nose – it smells deep, rich and meaty with a creamy oak overlay – it smells like a hearty winter warmer. Smooth and plush in the palate – plums and red berry fruit, baking spices, hints of pepper and a smoky, savoury, earthy depth with mushroom notes underpinning the vinous sweetness and a smooth creamy succulent finish. Chocolate emerges as the wine lingers and it has a soft, medium to full bodied flow. Matched to chilli con carne, it worked well, but spicy chorizo sausages were over powering. I think this is really nice – it doesn’t have those 'green' characters that many NZ Syrahs have. 14% alc. $25. 5Jun2014.

Milcrest Nelson Syrah 2010 (sc) Blackberry red, with a strawberry and black pepper scent and lashings of pepper in the palate with cherry, coconut and vanillin oak flavours. It's juicy and creamy with smooth velvety tannins, underlying dried herbs, nugget and mocha and an appealing brightness to the lingering finish. Medium to full bodied with American oak flavours that will be really appealing to Aus Shiraz lover's palates. Gold Easter Show. 13% alc. $33.99. 25Jul2012.

Millars Vineyard Mangawhai Syrah 2010 (sc) With a deep violet red hue and a black cherry and chocolate scent, this wine is so enticing even before it is tasted. Delicious from the outset, the cherry and chocolate of the bouquet joins concentrated flavours of plum and smooth, creamy vanillin oak with black pepper emerging with a stylish flourish on the finish. It is the black pepper that is the clue that this juicy succulent wine is actually from NZ. 14% alc. $30.99. 31Oct2012.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) A deep dense black cherry red with a floral, peppery, cooked fruit perfume, it's earthy and savoury with smooth tannins, a touch of vanilla, juicy cherries and jammy plums. The signature black pepper sits in harmony and the wine opens up beautifully in the glass. 13.5% alc. $20.99. 14Dec2011.
Vibrant purple red with smoky vanillin oak, juicy red fruits and liquorice aromas. Crammed full of blackberry fruit with a savoury backbone, it's soft smooth and creamy with well rounded tannins and a spicy infusion. The pepper is there but it's not intrusive. Harmonious throughout and just so easy to enjoy. 13.5%alc. $20.99. 18Jan2012.

Mudbrick Shepherd's Point Waiheke Island Syrah 2010 (sc) Startling colour, like Black Doris plum jam, a character of the aroma too but the initially meaty, savoury taste is not what the nose suggests. A bit of a blockbuster, yet with surprisingly supple tannins, this is the seducer. Flavours of plums, leather, mocha, chocolate and pepper yet an enigma with it alcohol level. 15.9% alc. $40.99. 20Apr2011.

Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2010 (sc) Deep ruby-edged red. Concentrated and aromatic plummy bouquet with a discreet suggestion of cake spices, and vibrantly fruity in the palate with pepper and allspice. The plum/prune fruit is ripe, almost jammy in bursts, with herbal layers, a firm tannin backbone and a long, dry finish with a hint of cocoa coming through. There's 2% viognier in this Syrah. 12.5% alc. $19.99. 19Apr2013.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2010 (sc) Intense purple red. Opulent and tantalising vanillin oak scents that carry through to the equally opulent palate. A young wine with potential to age but deliciously appealing already once the upfront tannins dissolve into the concentrated vinosity this blockbuster presents. Concentrated fruit, spicy oak, chocolate and vanilla combine in harmony and the velvety finish is long and persistent. 14% alc. $35.00. 21Apr2012.
Deep purple red showing some fineness to the appearance. Vanillin oak, juicy cherry fruit and hints of chocolate on the nose. Quite firm and dry in the palate yet supple and fleshy with dried herbs, purple fruit and plenty of cedar. A juicy, succulent rendition of Syrah that shows how electrifying it can be in a super hot year. Teriffic wine. 5 stars Winestate. 14% alc. $32.99. 9May2012.
Deep blackberry red. Crammed with sweet coconutty American oak (50% of the blend), this smells powerful and tastes powerful too. Firm, yet supple, with an opulence to its delivery, it's concentrated with red and black fruit, allspice, a delicate seasoning of pepper, seemingly integrated tannins and a juicy, persistent finish. Delicious. 14% alc. $27.99. 15Aug2012.

Pukeko Vineyards Blue Bird on Stilts Bay of Islands Syrah 2010 (c) Deep dark black red. Aroma is leather, wood smoke and coal with wild berries and tar. Spicy and a little peppery to the taste with dry tannins, a tarry savoury backbone and a succulent berry sweetness pushing through. 12.5% alc. $25.00. 17Sep2011.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Purple red, deep, shiny and inky. Fragrantly scented with an enticing floral allure to the vanillin oak, black pepper and black fruit scent. In the palate there's lovely ripeness to the fruit and roundness to the spicy flavours with a deep brooding backbone and brightness to the finish. Firm tannins can be tamed with cheese. Very impressive. 14% alc. $19.99. 21Sep2011.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Vivid crimson black. Aromas of cherry, mocha, chocolate, cake spices & pepper, the pepper also to the fore in the palate with initial red fruits quickly taken over by chocolate and deep savoury oak flavours. There's a light herbaceous note too, then cracked berry fruit welling up on the finish that has a hint of chicory. Easy going, rounded and creamy. 13.5% alc. $22. 3Apr2011.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (D) A brilliant plummy-purple red with a smoky, savoury, tarry and gently peppery aroma and juicy raspberry and boysenberry fruit and dark smoky oak playing on the firm, almost grippy, leathery palate with allspice and rose petals on the increasingly succulent finish. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 31Aug2011.
Deep purple red with a concentrated plum and blueberry aroma, this is a rich, meaty wine with supple tannins, sweet smoky oak, concentrated red berries and woody herbs like thyme and rosemary. Lovely fine yet firm structure and the perfect touch of pepper and allspice seasoning on the end. A big wine, it was decanted before the tasting. 14% alc. $31.99. 9May2012.

Te Mania Nelson Syrah 2010 (sc) Very dark red, almost opaque. Distinctive pepper on the nose, peppery, earthy, mushroomy, with a whiff of vanilla coming through. Pepper is bright and the fruit is lifted in the palate. Red fruits tending towards purple. Ting-a-ling-a-ling bright, bright, bright. Floral (herb flower) too. Long finish, intriguing. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 9Aug2011.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2010 - Hawkes Bay (c) Bright purple red with a ripe damson plum and blueberry aroma infused with a judicious touch of spice and a meaty nuance too. Firm structured and savoury with rose petal, red pepper, concentrated dark berry and plum fruit, underlying earth and game with svelte tannins that show it has longevity yet it seems just so smooth too. 14% alc. Cork $46.99. 14Mar2012.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2010 (sc) Dark Crimson purple. Hallmark spiciness of Syrah on the bouquet with cherry, red pepper and a touch of rose petal and carnation. Quite a dry wine with a deep, dark fruit presence, a meaty backbone, a velvety texture and a long savoury finish. There's a smidgen of Viognier in the blend. 13% alc. $18.99. 9Mar2012.

Ti Point One Matriarch Matakana Coast Syrah 2010 (c) Deep, bright, plummy purple red with an aroma of pepper, allspice and hints of liquorice. This is a muscular wine with a spicy, peppery disposition, rich plummy fruit, well balanced acidity, velvety tannin and an opulent richness to the powerful finish where the sweetness of the fruit pushes through. 13.5% alc. $45. 17Aug2011.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Dark purple/crimson with a complex aroma of pepper, tar, chocolate, cherry and chicory. Decanted two hours before tasting, it's quite peppery, meaty and savoury with iodine, chicory, chocolate, lovely purity of blackberry and boysenberry fruit, firm grainy tannins and a fantastically long smoky finish. 14.5% alc. $29.99. 29Feb2012.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Deep rich purple red. Aromas of juicy spiced plums and blackberry gums, with a hint of violet and vanilla. Soft, creamy and spicy with cocoa, mocha, and a savoury tarry depth with a lovely red fruit brightness on the velvety finish. 14% alc. $22. 17Aug2011.
Vivid blackberry red with a lovely richness to the scent that's floral, a little earthy and not overly peppery. Smooth and creamy to the taste with a velvety texture, juicy red fruits, chocolate and mocha, a lovely savoury tarry depth and a dry finish where floral nuances come through. Immensely drinkable. 14% alc. $17.99. 14Sep2011.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Striking purple red coloured with pepper, dark smoky oak and juicy berry fruit scents, it's spicy tasting and initially seems quite dry with fine firm tannins, plenty of pepper and all spice, then the succulent berry fruit comes into its own and makes the tannins dissolve, setting it up for a long, harmonious and creamy oak finish with hints of violets. 14% alc. $21.99. 14Nov2012.
This purple black coloured Syrah has that classic cracked pepper character and sweet ripe boysenberries on the nose and it's firm in the palate with juicy dark fruits, a hint of mint, a touch of liquorice, and a long, juicy, expansive finish. 14% alc. $21.99. 13Feb2013.
Bright inky purple black. Succulent spiced berries and savoury oak on the nose and a full-bodied, spicy, savoury palate with creamy oak, juicy red and black fruit, a touch of vanilla and a harmonious seasoning of pepper. A very dry wine with a firm tannin backbone and still a little brooding at this stage of its life, this multi-awarded wine has a long way to go. 14% alc. $21.99. 2Oct2013.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010 (sc) Deep, dark dense purple red with a brooding, dark chocolate oak scent, it's opulent and powerful in the palate with concentrated cherry, plum and blackberry fruit, chocolate biscuits, underlying gamey savoury nuances, fine tannins and a brightness to the finish. There's pepper, but it's so harmonious, and while it seems so drinkable already, it is a long term cellaring proposition. 14.5% alc. $59.99. 14Nov2012.

2009 Vintage [top] [index]

Arrow Junction Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Vivid purple black with a cracked pepper and dried rose scent, this has a dry peppery taste combining with dry tannins – a combination that has it begging for food. It's dark, savoury and meaty with mocha, chicory and black cherry fruit and chocolate wheaten on the lingering finish. 13.5% alc. $35.99. 22Jun2011.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2009 - Hawkes Bay (sc) Deep purple red with a beefy aroma and again a nuance of rose petal to the bouquet, this is a rich, deep, sumptuous wine; a beefy, meaty, full-bodied wine with a supple velvety texture and for many better than the the Trophy magnet sibling. Beautifully balanced red and black fruit, beautifully balanced toasty oak, beautifully balanced peppery savouriness and a fantastically long finish and all the while that deep meaty undercurrent offset by the beguiling florals that linger. A gorgeous wine and a treat to try. A wine you can enjoy now if you want to, or confidently cellar. 14.5% alc. $93.99. 27Jun2012.

Cable Bay Waiheke Island Syrah 2009 (sc) Deep, vivid, boysenberry in colour with a deep, sensuous aroma with cocoa powder, cake spice, macerated black cherries and dominatrix leather. The chocolate character is profound in the palate and is layered with allspice, oak spice, vanilla, rose pepper, herbs and leather with the mouthfeel having quite a creamy veneer. Tannins are silky with a slightly grainy-edged nap. Intense and powerful all the way with mocha and cherry, it has well-balanced savouriness with red berry fruit adding brightness and making a clean cut through the lasting sumptuous finish. 14% alc. $35. 3Apr2011.

Church Road Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Purple red coloured with liquorice (molasses) and rose pepper filling the savoury bouquet of this deep, brooding, savoury, leathery, firm tannined wine. There's the classic pepper of the variety, a herbal undercurrrent and lovely black fruit intensity at the end. Gold Air NZ. 4½ stars & No.5 in Cuisine. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 27Jun2012.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (c) Impenetrable purple black coloured with a rich meaty, pepper-infused scent that has a charming fragrance to it too. Dry, savoury and quite peppery but a big burst of sweetness pushes through. Firmly structured with chocolate, spiced plum, liquorice and leather, this opulent and rippling muscular wine has a long, succulent finish. 14% alc. $54.99. 13Jul2011.

Coopers Creek Chalk Ridge Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Sweet smoky oak and concentrated berry scents with hints of chocolate and perhaps a suggestion of truffle. The chocolatey theme runs through the palate and the fruit, now cherry-like, is succulent and juicy ripe sweet. And then the spiciness inherent to the variety comes through with anise underlying touch of liquorice and leather. Smooth and easy - not at all difficult to drink. 13.5% alc. $26. 8May2011.

Coopers Creek Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 (sc) Glossy blackberry red. Leather and chocolate on the nose with a hint of dried rose then firm and tannic in the palate with a brooding feel to the wine. But the chocolate, the plums, the spice, the vanillin oak come through and the finish is mouthflling and succulent. A wine that won’t mind a few years cellaring. 14% alc. $43.99. 26Jun2013.

Dry River Martinborough Lovat Vineyard Syrah 2009 (D) Deep purple red, fading a little on the rim. Varietal black pepper combines with earth and leather on the rich, raisiny scent, becoming more floral and fragrant over time. A full-bodied mouthfilling wine, and while the dry tannins hit the front of the palate, the juicy red fruit sweetness pushes through to bring it into balance, leaving behind a silky veneer. Overall the taste experience is vibrant, lively and exciting. An age worthy wine. 13% alc. $58.00. 21Apr2012.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Vivid purple red in colour with a black pepper, leather and sweet oak bouquet that is intrinsic of New Zealand Syrah. That black pepper infiltrates the flavour, which is juicy and spicy with succulence and silky tannins. Supple and sensuous with lovely fruit and oak balance and most enjoyable to drink. 14.5% alc. $27.99. 13Apr2011.
Shiny black with an attractive rose pepper scent, this has lashings of pepper in the palate but there's fruit sweetness too, which harmoniously balances the savouriness and leaves an impression of succulence. The firm tannins have a velvety texture and the lasting finish is creamy and bright. Lovely wine. 13.5% alc. 22Jun2011.

Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (D) Intense purple red. The bouquet is earthy, dusty and peppery with red and black fruits and slightly floral nuances. A dark meaty wine with a finely honed structure, there's some lovely oak assemblage in here with juicy dark berry fruit emerging. The finish is bright and lifted with cake spices and red and black pepper, and the texture is sensuous, like your favourite blanket. 13% alc. $55.00. 21Apr2012.

Lansdowne Estate Masterton Syrah 2009 (sc) Deep purple red, fading a little on the rims. Red berry and red pepper aromas prevail with intriguing savoury gamey notes too. Quite intense on entry to the palate with red and black jubes and chocolate raisins, with underlying acidity adding brightness and spritz to the finish. 14.9% alc. $30.00. 21Apr2012.

Mills Reef Gimblett Gravels Elspeth Syrah 2009 (sc) Intense purple red. A complex fragrance of cake spice, dark berry fruits, sweet oak, red pepper, chocolate and truffle. Very dry with furry tannins, leather, black forest chocolate and pepper, this is a wine of depth and richness with hints of vanilla and liquorice and a long spicy finish. It needs to evolve so serve in a big glass - it makes a difference. 14% alc. $45.00. 21Apr2012.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) A dark savoury Syrah, leather and spice aromas follow through in the palate with a little bit of barnyard and leather with mushroom, dried herbs, cedar and pepper. Fruit: plum, which is slightly under ripe. Firm tannins and a little grainy, or is that the spice tingle coming through. Not my preferred style. But, excellent with sirloin and herbed breadcrumb crust. 13% alc. $24.95. 19May2011.

Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Deep black red with purple crimson edges. A gorgeous bouquet of smoky oak, earth, pepper and spice, and the distinctive black pepper signature of Syrah permeating through the flavour. With earth, leather, sweet oak, juicy black cherry and blackberry fruit, smooth tannins and a long bright satisfying finish, it has that real NZ feel to it. An absolute steal. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 1Dec2010.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Vivid crimson/purple black-red. Perfumed with creamy oak, pepper, florals and concentrated red and black fruits, this is a savoury, meaty wine with fine tannins, sweet creamy oak, dried herbs, pepper, violets and rose spice coming through and a juicy, fruit-filled finish with hints of chocolate and Christmas cake spices. 14% alc. $19.99. 3Nov2010.
Vivid purple red with aromas of spiced plum, fruit cake and black pepper, it tastes concentrated with succulent fruit, a meaty depth and chocolate box, creamy oak and a gorgeous texture from the integrated tannins. Well seasoned with pepper. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 15Jun2011.

Ngatarawa Stables Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Soft, mellow aromas with juicy cherry. An easy-going softness on entry to the palate with cherries and wild blackberries, then a kick from the peppery spice. Savoury, gamey, meaty flavours come through with a thick leathery chocolatey finish with underlying acidity adding brightness. Fine in its tannin structure with some well-balanced herb nuances. A crowd pleaser. 13% alc. $24. 3Apr2011.

Omata Estate Russell Syrah 2009 (sc) Deep dark inky black red. It seems quite youthful with creamy oak and intense berry flavours - plums, blackberries and cherries - over a dark, savoury, nuggety backbone. An opulent red with a savoury, gamey veneer. 13.5% alc. $39.00. 17Sep2011.

Man O War Dreadnought Waiheke Island Syrah 2009 (sc) The deep dark red coloured wine was a little controversial on the night for its deep earthy peaty character, which Man O War says is a classic trait of this wine. Earthy, dusty, gamey and meaty with peat, volcanic ash, seaweed and iodine, blackcurrant, pepper and leather, fine velvety tannins, chocolate biscuits and spice and a long juicy fruit finish. Full-bodied, concentrated and long. 14.5% alc. $49.99. 7Mar2012.

Mission Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (D) Dark red coloured with flashes of black, this has a fragrant scent of plums and vanillin oak and the creamy oak is an upfront feature in the plush, velvety textured, nicely seasoned palate. The plummy fruit is lifted and bright and the savoury elements bring everything into balance. A star when tasted at First Glass 10 months, this continues to evolve and deliver. Gold Medal NZIWS, 5 Stars Winestate Magazine. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 25Apr2012.

Omata Estate Northland Syrah 2009 (sc) Made from grapes grown in Russell in the Bay of Islands. in the glass this is a vivid boysenberry red and has a rich ripe aroma of concentrated berry fruit and lashings of black pepper while emanating a smooth impression of vanillin oak. Ripe and juicy to the taste, this savoury, tarry, peppery Syrah has a beguiling rose spice character together with dark fruits and a lifted brightness to the finish. A terrific example. 13.5% alc. $39. 13May2011.

Pask Declaration Syrah 2009 (sc) An evocative bouquet of vanillin oak, concentrated redcurrant and black cherry fruit, and cake spices – not really peppery at all on the nose but full of characteristic pepper in the palate. A full-bodied, sumptuous style with harmonious fruit and oak, a deep savoury backbone, velvet coated tannins and lovely mouthfeel and flow. Creamy oak layers and a lingering concentrated purple fruit sweetness really add to the enjoyment of this excellent Syrah. 13% alc. $43.99. 19Apr2013.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Inky, vivid crimson black. Aromas of spice and pepper with chocolatey oak and hints of rose petals. Dry on entry to palate with a very fine structure and a lovely red and black fruit profile. With cherries, perhaps even some nuts, it just make me think cameo cream biscuits and Christmas. There's a deep savoury, nuggetty, mushroom note with creamy oak and chocolate – and the finish is rounded and long. It has all the components but with its powerful tannins it just seems a little disintegrated now and I think it needs food, or simply more time. 13.5% alc. $25. 3Apr2011.
Purple black in colour with a nuance of smoke to the concentrated blackcurrant and jube-like scent, it's dark and savoury tasting with black fruits and marmite. Intensely concentrated with a nice seasoning of pepper and smooth caresses. 13.5% alc. 22Jun2011.

Selaks Winemaker's Favourite Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Shiny black cherry in hue – deep and inky and smelling of smoke, pepper, spice and all things nice. The spicy, savoury flavours have a kick of fruity brightness with blackberry and blueberry supported by a leathery undercurrent together with a hint of liquorice. There's a kind of nuggety thing going on with chocolate, leather, spice and creamy oak, the tannins are a little like velvet-rubbed-the-wrong and the finish is long and creamy. A gutsy wine in a medium to full-bodied package. 13.5% alc. $20. 18Jan2011.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Left Field Syrah 2009 (sc) Bright and vivid in appearance, the dark mysterious aromas are a contrast. It smells meaty and leather with a richness of fruit adding sumpuousity. The taste is fill of sweet juicy fruit – redcurrants and cherry - with soft rounded tannins, creamy oak and a deep, meaty, savoury backbone laced with cake spice and rose pepper. 13.5% alc. $24. 3Apr2011.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (C) Dark purple black. The scent is a little restrained, but full of rose hips and pepper with a creamy oak veneer. A muscular syrah with firm tight tannins, pepper, cake spices, mocha, bitter chocolate, vanilla and star anise. Underlying the plum and boysenberry fruit is a meaty richness – game meats perhaps. It's a powerful wine but as the wine leaves the mouth, there's a serenity and completeness. A very good wine – dare I say excellent? Yes, I dare. 13% alc. $34. 8Jul2011.

Te Mania Nelson Syrah 2009 (sc) Big oak scent, chocolate, earth and wild mushroom on toast. A big wine, a meaty wine with firm tannins and an intriguing salty / sulphury thing that is both pleasurable and displeasing. Getting past the sulphur there's chocolate and Black Forest cherries with vanillin oak and a jammy fruit finish. A little disappointing in that after the bold aromas and bold entry to palate, it quickly drops away. 12.5% alc. $22. 3Apr2011.

Vidal Reserve Series G imblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) Deep blackberry red with a spiced cherry and sweet smoky oak scent. A ripe, full-bodied wine with silk-edged velvety tannins that are smooth and fine. Lovely cracked red berries – ripe, juicy, berry fruit at its pristine with layers of anise and just the right amount of pepper and allspice seasoning. Oak is savoury and adds structure without overpowering and there are appealing floral nuances to the finish. The whole package is very well balanced. Smart wine. 13.5% alc. $30. 8Jul2011.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 (sc) This black-red hued wine has an intriguing floral-like perfume infused with smoky oak, pepper and allspice. With its meaty flavours it's the driest wine of the night and the tannins are still quite tight but chocolate adds succulence and chicory, pepper, spice and rose petals add a flourish of brightness. A wine that needs to be cellared, or decanted for drinking right now. 14% alc. $59.99. 30Mar2011.
Deep purple red with a deep, sweet berry and rich meaty scent, but when you first taste the wine it is the pepper that makes such an impression. The pepper fades to let other lovely spicy components such as anise, such a complement to the deliciously juicy plum and blackberry fruit. Dry yet silky, full-bodied, complex, savoury and deep, with incredible juiciness and phenomenal length. 14% alc. $59.99. 22Aug2012.

2008 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension 'The Bandit' Reserve Matakana Syrah / Viognier 2008 (sc) A rich deep cherry red colour, this fragrant wine has a creamy red fruit and oak scent with subtle savoury nuances, subtle but varietally correct pepper and a hint of those lovely Syrah florals reminiscent of roses and violets. Perfumed with a creamy palate, there's a dark savoury backbone with a hint of cigar box smokiness and the bitter chocolate lingering on the lasting finish. It is very ripe and meaty with smooth tannins, body and grunt. 4 stars. 13% alc. $35. 30Mar2009.

Awaroa Reserve 'Melba Peach' Waiheke Island Syrah 2008 (D) 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 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. $65. 14Jun2009.

Bilancia La Collina Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (c) There's a burnished red hue to this older looking wine and the bouquet suggests it has bottle age too. There's a tantalising vanillin creaminess to the cigar box-like oak that wafts out of the glass and for a moment I am looking to the west island, but this is super ripe Hawkes Bay. Vanillin oak with spicy undertones fill the palate with what was once plummy fruit together with plenty of pepper-like heat and while the tannins seem moderately assertive they are fine textured in their flow and the finish is full-bodied and meaty. Quite mature but drinking beautifully tonight. 14.5% alc. $93.99. 6Apr2016.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (c) Dense black red with a dry peppery scent that carries through to the concentrated palate where red berries are the jus to the meaty backbone. Tannins seem very dry, yet the finish is succulent and persistent and the lingering flavours are blackberry, allspice and black pepper. 13% alc. $35.99. 3Aug2011.
Black purple, shiny and dense. The bouquet is spicy and savoury with smoky oak and leather. A very dry wine but profound and rich with ultra-ripe fruit and lashings of black pepper. Still looking youthful but settled in the palate with a long lasting finish, it has excellent potential to age and is best enjoyed with food right now. 13% alc. $32.99. 1Feb2012.

Contour Estate Matakana Syrah 2008 (c) This shows exactly why NZ Syrahs are being compared to the Rhône. It's spicy, pepper, savoury and floral with a profundity to the concentrated red and black fruit, loads of leather, a sous bois savouriness and a plush juicy finish.. 14% alc. $40. 19Mar2010.

Coopers Creek Select Vintage Chalk Ridge Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) Deep dark purple black red. Fragrant vanillin oak and blackberry scents and crisp berry fruit flavours with plenty of peppery spice, velvety tannins, hints of leather, and a rich, deep medium to full-bodied finish. There’s a bright hum of fruit balancing the savoury richness, with a juicy lushness lingering despite the firm finish that lifted and long. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 30Jun2010.

Corazon Single Vineyard Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (D) This lovely rich red-coloured wine has a peppery scent infused with sweet vanillin oak. The flavours are spicy with red fruits, perhaps strawberry, with a bit of a citrus zing. One of those distinctly floral Syrahs - rose petals and violet combine with liquorice and spice. Medium-bodied in palate weigth, it spent 14 months in oak of which some is American oak, I'm sure. Best decanted at this stage of its life - I didn't but I liked the way this wine developed in the bottle over a couple of days. 12.8% alc. $24.90. 14Jun2010.

Couper’s Shed Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) This black cherry coloured wine radiates smoke, cedar and crushed red and black pepper scents that carry through to the earthy savoury palate that has delicious cherry and redcurrant fruit, cake spices and vanilla welling up from within. With fine silky tannins and a creamy, savoury oak finish, it's long in flavour and very satisfying, especially at the price. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 29Sep2010.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) Inky purple black in colour, this is opulently perfumed, almost floral, perhaps there is a smidgen of Viognier in the wine? Hugely concentrated with firm grippy tannins, red brambly fruit, chocolate, mocha, tar, a rustic note to the backbone and the classic black pepper signature to the finish, a wine that can be cellared or enjoyed with food right now. Previously known as 'Block 14'. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99. 7Jul2010.
Very deep plummy-red coloured with a savoury meaty aroma and a luxurious spiciness to the flavour. It's spicy and peppery, plummy and leathery, juicy and savoury with firm yet supple tannins (still resolving) and the long finish has a nuance of jaffa. Seems like it will be a bit of a keeper. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 6Jul2011.

Man O War Waiheke Island Syrah 2008 (sc) (White label) Inky black red with a deep, tarry, savoury, smoky (slightly medicinal mercurochrome) scent that almost (almost) prepares you for the meatiness of this intensely structured wine. It has a massive tannin presence, however those tannins are all upfront and dissolve as soon as the wine leaves the mouth and the lingering aftertaste is surprisingly rounded. What you are left with is an infusion of pepper, spiced plums, a delicate hint of liquorice, dark chocolate, rose hips and petals, and perhaps a touch of jaffa. 14% alc. $28. 8Jul2011.

Mission Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (D) Vivid dense purple red. Sensuous aromas of dried rose and black pepper - so distinctive of NZ Syrah, and a dark, dense, meaty, savoury palate with sweet oak, thick tannins, black pepper and a dark cherry / blueberry fruit. The tannins seem to dissolve and there's a fineness to the lingering floral aftertaste. Smart already. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 15Apr2009.
Dark red, fine in appearance with crimson edges and a tarry, savoury aroma a little reminiscent of the Rhone. A dry wine on first tasting with savoury, earthy flavours then plum and cherry fruit add juiciness to the finish. Probably best with food to cut through the dry and slightly grippy tannins. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 5May2010.

Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2008 (sc) Vivid black purple colour - deep and dense and so immediately recognisable of its variety with abundant black pepper / cracked pepper / scent. Yes, this is Syrah. A dry wine to the taste with leather, pepper, bitter chocolate, meat, dried herbs, briar rose and grippy tannins at this stage of its life. Perhaps lacking a little generosity right now but remember it is still very young and needs a big glass (or decanting) to open up in to reveal all its hidden pleasures. Note the new black label too. 14% alc. $42.99. 18Nov2009.

Ransom K Syrah 2008 Matakana (D) A deep dark ruby red with a chocolate, spiced cherry, tar and vanillin oak scent, it's medium- bodied with fine tannins, juicy bittersweet red fruits and lashings of white pepper. There's an intriguing earthiness and nuances of dried woody herbs interweaving with the fruit and the charry, leathery finish seems a little sweet/sour but with the sweet component winning as it lingers. Seems much richer the next day. Because it's not a heavy wine, it's a good match to the right food. We matched it to venison. 13% alc. $36. 8Jul2011.

Sileni Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) A sweet, ripe smelling wine with juicy cherry fruit and a smooth, easy palate, quite light for the variety. There's an upfront cherry cakiness but the distinctive pepper and spice crowds everything else out on the finish and there seems to be some spritz. It's light, plummy and ripe with a confectionary sweetness and some intriguing spritz. 3% alc. $20. 8Jul2011.

Ti Point Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) The aromas are redolent of milk chocolate and black forest berries and while it seems a little green and acidic at first, I think something is being misrepresented here – perhaps multi-coloured peppercorns, because it quickly becomes rounded and chocolatey with savoury oak, spice and fine silky tannins that make you notice they are there. Then the sweetness of the vanilla and the brightness of the cake spice and cherry totally appease. And the pepper strums along nicely as the aftertaste lingers. 13% alc. $22. 3Apr2011.

Te Mata Bullnose Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (c)Deep purple red, bright and vivid. Youthful, firm, cracked pepper, red pepper, rose spice and rustic red fruit scents - similar in the palate, it's bright and creamy with vanillin oak, plenty of spice, leather, purple fruit, violets, cocoa and underlying tar. Despite the initially forward oak and underlying acidity driving through the wine, it softens for a lingering, red fruit, warm mellow finish with hints of cocoa. Both the aromas and the flavours get better and better as the wine opens up in the glass. Exciting Syrah. 13.5% alc. $39.99. 17Mar2010.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) Black maroon purple red. Aromas of chocolate box combine with lush spiced berries and there's a lovely savoury depth to the juicy dark cherry flavours layered with delicious cake spices and hints of rose pepper. Fragrant, ripe and juicy with silky textured tannins and floral nuances on the long lasting finish due to a small percentage of Viognier. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 30Jun2010.
Inky maroon red. Purples abound in the rich, deep savoury wine with hint of chocolate on the bouquet and earthy savoury complexities to the flavour with a spicy richness, a bright pepper infusion and delicious cherry fruit sweetness. A touch of Viognier makes the tannins supple and smooth and there are hints of rose petals and chocolate on the finish. 13.5% alc. $33.99. 11Aug2010.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008 (sc) Purple-indigo - bright, shiny, dense - noticeably darker when poured. Savoury aromas combine with florals, berry and spice and the beautifully harmonious spicy palate is sweet-tinged, warm and savoury. Red and black fruit, pepper, cake spices, juicy cherry fruit and even hints of chocolate combine in this lovely generous wine. 100% French oak. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 30Jun2010.
Purple black coloured, deep and bright. A juicy rendition, yet with some underlying black pepper and truffle-like funk going on, it is concentrated with firm dry tannins, pepper, leather, currants, blackberries, smoky oak and a hint of vanilla emerging on the finish. With no Reserve Syrah made in 2008, this is the top Syrah from Villa Maria this vintage and being predominantly French oak it is more like the Reserves than the Cellar Selection Syrahs of the last couple of years. 13.5% alc. $29.99 17Nov2010.

Waimarie Muriwai Valley Syrah 2008 (D) Deep and bright in colour. Perfumed with delicate florals, like rose petals, together with rose pepper, blackberry and stylish oak. It has a medium-bodied palate and is dry, savoury and a little leathery to the taste with a lovely fine tannin structures that imparts a silky swathe across the palate. Raspberry, blackberry and cherry fruit wells up from within to leave its mark on the finish. Has a European fell to the style. 4Jul2010.

Waimea Nelson Syrah 2008 (sc) Deep rubellite red. Meaty, savoury, smoky aromas - black cherry, vanilla and spice and some floral nuances emerging too. Spicy, fruit driven wine -with creamy, almost chocolatey oak adding succulence while a leafy, slightly leathery, savoury undercurrent beings it all into balance. The berry fruit is deep and concentrated - red fruit, perhaps raspberry - and leather, tar and rose petal. The meaty tannins are thick and velvety and the vanillin and cedar-like oak comes forth the again on the finish. Incredibly juicy, easy to enjoy. 14% alc. $23.90. 23May2010.

2007 Vintage [top] [index]

Boundary Vineyards Lake Road Gisborne Syrah 2007 (sc) A savoury wine, quite brooding to start with black fruits and pepper-infused spice with a touch of fruit sweetness emerging on the finish. A touch of leather underpins the wine and the oak has a n nuggetty veneer to the finish. Good clean, medium-bodied Syrah with a light tannin structure - just doesn't pop, ie a little boring (we opened something else). From the Patutahi region of Gisborne. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 27Oct2009.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (c) Deep purple red, almost black. Sweet smelling aroma with a peppery signature and a cameo biscuit overtone. Smooth and creamy with a velvety texture, it's juicy and succulent and full of purple berries yet has underlying acidity and grip. Quite meaty and savoury with a potpourri of dried herbs, it's like a juicy cut of meat with a spiced berry sauce which adds sweetness to the long, lasting finish. Big, rich, juicy and creamy with an intensely long and sensual finish. 19/20. 13.5% alc. $34-$37. 29Nov2008.
A bright shiny boysenberry red, quite purple on the edges, it needs plenty of swirling to being out the deep tarry, pepper and rose petal aromatics that are infused with smoky oak. The full-bodied, creamy, sweet fruited palate has luscious purple fruit with beautiful balancing fresh acidity, a hint of menthol among the dried herbs, and an array of exotic spices, eg. anise. Like the aroma, the palate is tight and nowhere near ready to drink. It's quite smooth and drinkable, nevertheless. 13.5% alc. $33.99. 18Mar2009.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (c) Deep shiny purple black. Chocolate and mocha on the nose - it smells complex and deep, opulent and rich, but not really peppery as expected. In the mouth this is so smooth and creamy with ripe purple fruit and an earthy savoury depth. You can taste the peppery spice with chocolate, violets and underlying acidity adding brightness to the finish. It has evolved beautifully since last tasted five months ago. 13.5% alc. $33.99. 12Aug2009.

CJ Pask Declaration Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) Dense black red. Concentrated and full-bodied with black pepper and rose petal scents supported by creamy vanillin oak followed by deep, rich, savoury flavours with hints of mint, a touch of chocolate, spiced blackberries and cherries. When tasted blind this smooth, creamy, yet profoundly savoury wine, really shows it class. 14.5% alc. $53.99. 21Oct2009.

CJ Pask Hawkes Bay Gimblett Road Syrah 2007 (sc) Dark purplish red in colour with scents like rainbow peppercorns and spicy, peppery flavours. Medium-bodied in style with juicy plum and blackberry fruit, meaty tannins and a dry finish. 14% alc. $N/A. 16Jun2010.

Contour Estate Reserve Matakana Syrah 2007 (D) Deep, dense purple-flushed red. The bright berry aromas are embellished with rich creamy oak, spice and hints of old fashioned roses. The scent alone is utterly appealing and the taste delivers too. It's a full-bodied red with juicy purple berries, abundant vanillin oak, cake spice, supple rounded tannins and a velvety plushness to the long savoury finish. It leaves a lingering red fruit aftertaste with hints of chocolate. 18/20. 13% alc. $35. 13Oct2008.

Dry River Martinborough Lovat Vineyard Syrah 2007 (c) Distinctly pepper on the nose with that slightly green edge I am not a fan of. Then concentrated dark cherry fruit and liquorice – the more I smell it, the more I like it. Lots of fruit aromas – but when I come back to it later it is green pepper again. A little varnishy at first in the palate with concentrated fruit reminiscent of dark fresh cherries and spiced macerated cherries with a well balance pepper infusion and fine tannins. Overall a darker wine, more close up wine, but still the green pepper comes through with paint box, plasticine and a smoky finish. 12.5% alc. $58.00. 30Apr2013.

Harvest Man Waiheke Island Syrah 2007 (sc) A dense coloured black cored garnet red. A hint of mint comes through on the savoury nose with smoke in the distance. Mint, cherries and florals in the palate with sweet vanillin oak and cake spices and just a touch of pepper. Medium-bodied, mouthfilling and juicy with some grip to the finish and though lighter than many NZ Syrahs, it has very good mouthfeel and presence. Made by Hay Paddock. 14.5% alc. $35.99. 19Aug2009.

Kaimira Brightwater Syrah Viogner 2007 (sc) Dark coloured red. A brooding wine on the nose - savoury, earthy and leathery with perhaps a hint of the savoury little Brett yeast, the palate is dark and savoury with a full-bodied richness. Pepper abounds then cherry fruit cake-like flavours set in to sweeten up the drop. A touch herbaceous on the finish with just a hint of mint. 3.5 stars.13% alc. $40. 30Mar2009.

Karikari Estate Northland Syrah 2007 (D) Deep dark red, opaque. A generous aroma of vanillin oak with hints of mocha, cedar and an appealing floral infusion that copmes from the Small Viognier component.. In the palate it’s big, it’s oaky, it’s grippy, it’s nice. Cherry fruit is in harmony with the vanillin oak, the backbone is deep and savoury, there's a spicy brightness and underlying acidity humming away. It’s seems very oaky, but it drinks well. However the food match of sirloin with herbed breadcrumb crust, for which the Mills Reef Reserve 2009 worked beautifully, did not work at all with this wine. 12.8% alc. $30. 19May2011.

Kerr Farm Pamela Syrah 2007 (sc) Ripe, juicy and creamy – if pepper is the signature of syrah, then it’s written all over this wine. Deep crimson black colour, perfumed and spicy with red berries and hints of rose petals following through in the palate with firm yet svelte tannins, a touch of chocolate and the brightness of plum and cherry fruit. 12% alc. $25.00. 29Jan2012.

Man O' War Waiheke Island Syrah 2007 (sc) Classic peppery scents - perfumed, varietally expressive. Quite pepper, earthy, savoury and dense with silky tannins, violet / dark fruit notes - dark, mysterious, brooding with the fruit popping out at the end. 13.5% alc. $28. 26Oct2008.

Man O' War Waiheke Island Dreadnought Syrah 2007 (c) A big funky style made to emulate the Olde World, I'm sure. Evolves quite quickly on the nose to reveal pepper, sweet oak, ripe berry and complex savoury notes both on the nose and in the palate. Pepper spices infuse through the layers and leave behind a tingling mouthfeel after the wine is swallowed. Gorgeously long finish - silky, creamy, smooth and sexy. 14.5% alc. $48. 26Oct2008.
Very meaty wine - loads of boot leather - loads of Brett. Smoky, struck match, meaty, savoury. There's a sour note to the wine and a bitterness to the finish, yet - like the others - the aftertaste evolves and delivers so much enjoyment. A rich wine, a dry wine, with blue and black fruit, pepery spice, fine textured tannins and a floral sweetness on the lingering finish. 14.5% alc. $48. 29Nov2008.

Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2007 (sc) Blackberry red. Aromas of earth, dried herb, smoky oak and hints of cassis with cassis and cherry fruit in the palate joined by savoury oak, a touch of chocolate and spice. Not as overtly peppery as many Kiwi Syrahs, but a stellar wine with a svelteness to the texture and depth to the flavours and fruit sweetness to the finish - it's from the great vintage and is immensely enjoyable already. 14% alc. $42.99. 16Dec2009.
Very deep, rich, plummy / fruitcake scent with an aura of sweet smoky oak. Not particularly peppery on the nose and if I didn’t know I was tasting Syrah I would think a full-bodied concentrated Merlot – it becomes more and more chocolatey as I smell it. Then in the palate, wow, lots of pepper heat and bite. A bright tasting wine with rich plum and black cherry fruit and sweet spices, tannins a little dry but the impression is fine and the finish is juicy, creamy and long. It may smell like Merlot but it definitely tastes like a classy Syrah with a dark chocolate and liquorice aftertaste and even a suggestion of Jaffa! Divine! Seems to be even creamier with the food (lamb shoulder casserole with eggplant). 14% alc. $39.95. 30Apr2013.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) The nose is filled with pepper, earth and tar and the flavour is juicy and sweetish with jewelled fruit. A medium-bodied commercial style, rounded and easy to drink and enjoy with some tarry, savoury notes and a long, luscious finish with a touch of chocolate. Just lacks the x-factor for a higher score. 15.5/20. 13.5% alc. $25. 13Oct2008.
Deeply coloured with a floral note to the peppery, tarry perfume and spicy, savoury flavours with a red fruit brightness. A meaty wine with French oak, cigar box, dry tannins, a good smattering of white pepper and lots of juicy fruit succulence. Excellent value. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 25Feb2009.
Deep purple red. Pepper, earth, leather and cracked berry on the nose, hints of barnyard too. Smoky and spicy in the palate with red currant and black cherry pushing through. Fruitier than expected from the nose with a softness to the tannins and a sweetness from the vanillin oak, it's medium-bodied in style and pleases with its juicy disposition. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 22Apr2009.

Mills Reef Elspeth Trust Vineyard Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) Shiny purple black with a smoky savoury aroma that's a little meaty, a little chocolatey and not overtly peppery. A full-bodied wine with delicious oak and fruit spice combining in harmony with fine silky tannins, a voluptuous savoury backbone, juicy blackberry fruit and a delightful peppery infusion to the bright lifted finish. 14% alc. $37.99. 30Jun2010.

Mission Estate Huchet Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2007 (D) Ooh, this actually seems a little acetic on the nose, some VA action going on here? A little hard for me to get past but when it wafts away there’s a pleasant creamy oak and a smoky, meaty richness too. Rich, rounded and concentrated with lots of chocolate / cocoa and layers of both red and black fruits, firm and slightly grippy tannins yet a long, smooth rounded finish with Syrah’s signature peppery bite. An incredibly complex wine, and dry, with a lingering taste of chocolate, prunes and raisins, but still noticeable VA. With food this is excellent - the best food match to our lamb shoulder casserole, the lamb coked atop layers of vegetable with tomato puree. The combination works so well with the sweet yet earthy flavours of the lamb. 14.5% alc. $100.00. 30Apr2013.

Passage Rock Reserve Waiheke Island 2007 (sc) Deep and dark in its blackberry red hue. It offers a juicy sweet-fruited nose with creamy vanillin oak, the slightest hint of leather and spice. The vanillin sweetness carries through to the palate, which is full of cherry, red pepper and rose spice yet rich and savoury too. A beautiful fragrant Syrah with underlying acidity together with rose spice, violets, a dried herb savouriness and a finish that goes on and on and on. Just love the finish. Just yum. Almost orgasmic ..... with the afterglow. 18.75/20. 14% alc. $50. 29Nov2008.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2007 (sc) Deep in colour, but without any black - a very deep pinot hue. Savoury aroma with a fruit cake sweetness - like a moist, alcoholic fruitcake and subtle but characteristic peppery scents. Some rich sweet blueberry and white chocolate too. A sweeter wine to the taste with a leathery (slightly bretty) note to the backbone, hallmark black and white pepper and spicy vanillin oak. A juicy wine with a savoury signature, dry grippy tannins and a lasting, lifted, fragrant spicy finish. As the wine lingers in the mouth, the pepper and florals and purple fruits abound. 18/20. 13% alc. $32. 29Nov2008.
Dark mulberry red. A little peppery on the nose with leather and cedar scents, it's savoury and peppery to the taste with a floral overlay. Medium-bodied in style with smooth easy tannins imparting a fine silky texture, it's full of multi-coloured peppercorns and liquorice with juicy strawberry and blackberry fruit over a leathery backbone. Has impressive mouth presence and length 13% alc. $23.99. 3Jun2009.

Porters Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (c) Saturated black red, this is a big wine on the nose and quite spicy in the palate. It builds and builds and builds in the mouth with a lovely creamy texture, dry tannins, pepper and a touch of liquorice with underling zesty acidity and tarry notes on the lingering finish. Fruit is sourced from Shepherds Croft in the Gimblett Gravels. Pre release sample tasted 14Oct2008.

Ransom K Syrah 2007 (D) - Matakana The deeply coloured Ransom K Syrah 2007 is a striking wine. The aromas are rich and creamy with floral overtones while the flavours are rich, tarry, savoury and earthy on entry but become rather juicy with abundant blackberry and raspberry fruit, cake spices and plenty of oak. It's a robust , creamy mouthful of rich succulent red. 17.5/20. 13% alc. $39. 13Oct2008.

Runner Duck Matakana Syrah 2007 (D) Deep yet bright in colour, it has a strong peppery scent infused with smoky bacon. First impression is of an earthy savoury wine with mid palate sweetness, dark savoury oak and grippy tannins that part like a curtain to reveal a vinous generosity and pretty floral traits with hints of strawberry and cherry, and a finish that is rich and deep. It's a much bigger wine than I expected and the use of both French (75%) and American oak (35%), in which it spent 20 months, is very appealing. First crop fruit. 13.5% alc. $39. 14Jun2010.

Selaks 'The Favourite' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) Deep crimson black. Perfumed with a lifted fragrance of chocolate biscuits, rose petal and tar, the fragrance carries through to the smooth textured spicy palate that has lovely sweet dark berry fruit, creamy oak, a beautifully balanced savoury backbone and just enough pepper to pin-point the variety. From the Heretaunga Plains. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 25Mar2009.

Sileni Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) Deep dark pinky red. Peppery and floral scents, a hint of chocolate too. Spicy in the palate, black and white pepper, rose hips, red and black fruits, fine-grained meaty tannins and a long, juicy, savoury spicy finish. Excellent value for money. A ring-in to this tasting. 13% alc. $16.99. 24Jun2009.
A medium to full-bodied style of Syrah matured in French & American oak, it has a distinctive peppery note to the cherry aroma and bright, ripe flavours with creamy oak and a fruit cake cherry sweetness. Tannins are a little on the chunky side, which gives the wine a meaty complexity and the finish is lifted and long. 13% alc. $19.95.27Oct2009.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (D) Inky purple-black red – shiny, bright. Pepper and leather aromas, wild blackberries, earth. Lashings of pepper in the firm textured alate with a juicy succulence from the dark plum and blackberry pie fruit, and some mocha/chicory and leather notes too together with polished oak. A beefy wine with a whisper of chocolate and cherry making the finish seem ripe. There's a floral intonation as the flavours linger and underlying acidity adds brightness to the powerful and lingering finish. Muscular structure – a Spanish matador with a rose. Thought provoking to say the least. 14.2% alc. $30. 8Jul2011.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2007 – Hawkes Bay (sc) Dense purple black in colour. Perfumed on the nose, like iced chocolate zucchini cake, and smooth and creamy in the palate, more so than many at this price point - it could be the 5% Viognier that makes the tannins seem so supple - or simply the excellent 2007 vintage. With Black Doris plum and purple berry fruit, red peppercorns, smoky vanillin oak and hints of chocolate, anise, and violets, this is succulent and very, very, drinkable. 13.5% alc. $17.99. 5Aug2009.
Deep crimson red, opaque in appearance with purple / black flashes. There's a winey sweetness to the aroma with distinctive pepper, dried herb and bitter chocolate and the wine in the mouth is soft, spicy and creamy and infused with ground multi-coloured) peppercorns. It's gentle in attack - like Pinot Noir, with an earthy depth - like Pinot Noir, but with beautiful florals and spice that is just so Syrah. It's soft, gentle and juicy with a purple/red fruit sweetness tempering the savoury backbone. It's succulent and enveloping in a medium-bodied style and maybe it's the 5% Viognier that adds the x-factor to this very drinkable wine. 13.5% alc. $18.80. 29Sep2009.

Trinity Hill Homage Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (D) A super concentrated, dense, bold, rich wine that commands attention. Black, purple-tinged red, aromas of blueberry, blackberry, cedary oak and vanilla bean with pepper abounding in the full-bodied palate with fine-grained tannins and layers of chocolate, cedar, spice. A seamless, skilfully made wine with a juicy purple fruit intensity and florals coming through on the beautifully balanced finish. There's about 9% Viognier in this wine. 14.5% alc. $116. 30Jun2010.

Vidal Reserve Syrah Hawkes Bay 2007 (sc) A voluptuous, juicy, sweet-fruited wine with a purple-black colour, vanillin oak, chocolate biscuit, black pepper and cherry scents and a deep sumptuous, savoury undercurrent to the red and black fruit flavours. It's juicy and lush and the fruit is complemented with hints of fruitcake, chocolate, well-balanced black pepper spice and a floral nuance to the lasting finish. 14% alc. $46.99. 29Sep2010.
Dense purple red with a dark, savoury aroma that has a spicy inflection, the savouriness carrying through to the concentrated palate. Seemingly youthful with fine firm tannins, this evolves beautifully in the glass to revealing red fruits, liquorice, anise, vanilla, cigar box, cedar and pepper. 14% alc. $59.99. 18May2011.
Dense purple red with a concentrated aroma of red and black berries with subtle cocoa enhancing the bouquet, it's a muscular savoury wine with firm tannins, vibrant black cherry and plum fruit, black olive, tar, liquorice, spice and vanilla. Not overtly peppery on the nose or in the front or middle palate but black and rose pepper notes linger harmoniously on the finish. You could say it is perfectly seasoned. 14% alc. $54.99. 8Jun2011.
This dark red coloured wine seems a little more mature. It has a smoky oak and dried cherry scent, perhaps even a nuance of chocolate too but in contrast it's quite savoury and earthy tasting with black and green pepper (the green pepper a clue to it origin, perhaps). The chocolate detected on the nose is smooth and velvety in the palate. Almost six years of age, it's enjoyable drinking right now. 14% alc. $54.99. 23Jan2013.
Ah, the oak is more noticeable – more savoury, with much darker fruit, chocolate, sweet spice, earth and dried herb. In the palate firm tannins, plum and blackberry/boysenberry fruit and harmonious flow across the palate building to a rich, concentrated, meaty finish. Lovely well-integrated spice, a zing of anise, mocha and chicory. The bright fruit and the dark oak are lovely. A very polished wine with a freshness to the voluptuous finish. 14% alc. $24.99. 30Apr2013.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) From the Gimblett Gravels sub region, this is a bright, shiny, dense black purple colour with a spicy, peppery, creamy oak aroma and a tight, dry, spicy palate - as we expect young NZ Syrah to be. With concentrated red and black fruit, dense smoky tarry notes, chocolate and fine grained tannins over a savoury, peppery backbone and a long juicy finish, this wine is going to evolve magnificently over the next few months. 14% alc. $29.99. 25Mar2009.

Wild Rock Angel's Dust Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 (sc) Dark red black with white pepper on the nose and a subtle peppery infusion to the plum and cherry flavours. It's seems quite dry on the first taste with moderately firm tannins and a leathery backbone but the juicy fruit takes over to fill the palate and the spice comes into its own on the finish. 2% Viognier and 2% Malbec add an extra dimension to the medium-bodied style. 13.5% alc. $22.99.14Jan2009.

Waimea Estate Nelson Syrah 2007 (sc) Rich deep glossy red. Succulent smelling - so reflective of its variety with pepper, vanillin oak and red fruits on the nose - juicy bright fruits that carry through to a smooth, creamy textured palate embellished with opulent American oak. Agentle wine with a floral lift to the finish, it is a soft, succulent, juicy creamy red that is made to drink and enjoy with thinking too much about it. 4.5 stars.13% alc. $21.90. 30Mar2009.

2006 Vintage [top] [index]

Alpha Domus Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Deep ruby, not quite opaque, with a peppery, spicy aroma and spicy, creamy blueberry and cherry flavours. A lighter style but a great little juicy quaffer with hints of chocolate and a long, fragrant aftertaste. 12.5% alc. $27. 9Oct2007.

Awaroa Organic Vineyard Waiheke Island Syrah 2006 (c) Massive colour of crimson, purple black. Exotic, fragrant and floral with spice, tar, smoky cedar and liquorice aromas - this wine emanates concentration on the nose and is focussed and concentrated in the palate with pepper, rosehip, all spice, tar, anise and cedar. A big wine with big tannins that are fine in their delivery and a Rhonish complexity to the lingering finish, it is simply outstanding with a voluptuous seductiveness and excellent potential 13.5% alc. $45.00 22Jul2007.

Babich Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (D) Deep purple-red colour, intense and opaque. Slightly tarry, earthy, savoury aromas with hints of rose petals and a ton of white pepper. It's tarry, earthy, savoury and spicy to the taste with black nugget, sweet cedary oak, fine grainy tannins, wild blackberries, hints of liquorice and a lovely floral lift to the bitter chocolate finish. It's smooth, ripe and creamy with a well-balanced combination of sweet, savoury and spicy and the peppery character that is so flamboyant on the nose is there all the way through. It's been matured in French and American oak and is an excellent accompaniment to Merlot and Cracked Pepper sausages. 12.5% alc. $25.95. 22Jun2007.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2006 (D) - Hawkes Bay Saturated purple red. Pepper, blackberry, hints of leather, rose petal and bitter chocolate tease the nose and the massively concentrated plum and purple fruits with an array of black and rose pepper and beautiful sweet and savoury flavours on a thick, plush texture fulfil the palate. This is a full rich wine with warmth to the lingering, peppery finish, yet it has a subtlety to the alluring texture. It slowly seduces then leaves behind a memory that to me is like rose petals scattered over a velvet bed. A young wine, it shows an incredible amount of promise and the pleasing flavours just last and last. 19.5/20. 14% alc. 29Nov2008.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (c) A vivid boysenberry red with a deeply opaque core and an intensely concentrated aroma that release scents of multicoloured pepper corns, rose petals and dried herbs. The scents carry though to the silky textured palate that has a poised spiciness, chocolate, bright fruit and a fine acid balance. It's pretty and beguiling up front with alluring violet-like florals lingering on the aftertaste but inside there is a lean brute of a man with all the signs that it will flesh up magnificently with a bit of body-building age. Star potential but I would like to see it decanted for drinking right now. $33.95. 14May2008.
Vivid purple red - a little deeper and blacker than the Homage. Peppery lifted fragrance - complex and seductive with hints of rose petals and dried herbs. Rich and chocolatey to the taste with a silky texture, big juicy spicy blackberry fruit and a leathery, meaty undercurrent while bright but well-balanced acidity foretells its magnificent potential to age. When tasted alongside the Trinity Hill Homage, there are many similarities, but this is the bigger, richer and more chocolatey of the two wines. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 2Jul2008.

Coopers Creek SV 'Chalk Ridge' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Inky black red with exotic spices on the nose and spicy flavours. It's full of pepper, allspice, blackberry, boysenberry, and chocolate with cocoa-like tannins. It's a big wine with an opulence to the creamy texture and the finish is all black cherries, earth, spice and dried herbs. 2.68% Viognier was co-fermented with the Syrah. 13.5% alc. $25. 13Oct2007.
Inky black red, shiny in appearance, this aromatic, bright-scented wine has upfront flavours of creamy oak, chocolate, juicy blackberry and sweet black cherry fruit with the signature pepper of Syrah strumming gently in the background until exploding like fireworks on the vibrant finish. Co-fermented with 2.5% Viognier, which makes the tannins slippery in texture, there's a pleasing jaffa-like allure throughout. One of the great buys in New Zealand Syrah. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 30Jan2008.

Corbans Cottage Block Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (c) Concentrated black crimson, vibrant and shiny in appearance. Wow – smell the pepper on the nose - freshly crushed black pepper and wild rose scents that carry through to the spicy, savoury palate. Tight-knit and concentrated at this stage of its life with loads and loads of spice, juicy blackberry fruit, cherry chocolate, hints of anise and a succulent, savoury finish, it was matured in French oak, 40% new. 13% alc. $33.99. 30Jan2008.
Deep purple black colour with vivid crimson rims, it's screams 'New Zealand' with its profound cracked blacked pepper and spicy oak scents that carry though to the big rich palate with cow pats, blue berries, dusty tannins, dried herbs, moderate acidity and an earthy finish. 13% alc. $29.99. 16Apr2008.
A dense blackcurrant / boysenberry red. Oodles of pepper on the nose - white, black and red pepper, suede and concentrated red fruits - it smells opulent from the outset. The peppery aromas carries through to the palate, which is tight and firm-grained in texture with a meaty richness and beauitfully fragrant rose spice - my Dublin Bay for sure - the fragrance carrying through and lingering on the lasting finish. Concentrated and juicy with a firm tannin backbone, beautifully integrated oak and rich, ripe dark bramble berry and plum fruit. Sets a very high standard. 19.5/20. 13% alc. $38.95. 29Nov2008.
Dense dark red, almost black with lashings of white pepper on the nose that carries to the palate. Spicy and very very dry with silky structured fine tannins, hints of rose petal, a nuance of dark chocolate, a smooth long finish and a great deal of finesse. 13% alc. $33.99. 20May2009.

Dry River Lovat Amaranth Syrah 2006 (c) - Martinborough Deep boysenberry red with a vivid brightness. Offering scents that are juicy, ripe and quite fruity, like bottled black cherries, it doesn't seem at first, very peppery and it has a point of difference to the ripe taste. It's massively concentrated, a little bit of tar amongst the roses and to put it one word, 'fascinating'. A big wine, very juicy with blue and black fruit, yet meaty and savoury, tasty, tangy - and yes, now the pepper is there while the finish has signature rose spice, violets, and also some chocolate. To summarise, this has mouthfuls of juicy fruit supported by a rich, savoury, meaty backbone with lots of fragrant peppery spices. 18.5/20. 13.5% alc. $62. 29Nov2008.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Very vivid purple black in colour, this has a deep, dark savoury aroma and is so spicy to the taste, it almost seems spritzy. Quite thick textured with dry tannins and leathery intonations underlying the big juicy purple fruit, there's a deft touch of luscious vanillin oak and loads and loads of pepper. All in all, it's a lovely balance of spice, savouriness and fruitiness with a long, long succulent finish. 14.5% alc. $63.99.14Jan2009.

Fromm La Strada Marlborough Syrah 2006 (D) A deep dense rich berry red with very little purple. Subtle black pepper on the sweetly spiced nose - the beautiful perfume is ripe, fragrant and quite beguiling. With a very smooth, sumptuous flowing texture, rounded tannins, underlying acidity, hints of leather and a suggestion of anise (think blackball lollies), it's smoky, spicy, savoury, earthy with a touch of chicory too. To summarise, this is rich, powerful and sweet fruited with liquorice and black pepper spices, some warmth, delicious savouriness and an amazing long lasting finish with lots of lovely rose spice intrigue. 18.75/20. 14.5% alc. $31.90. 29Nov2008.

Marsden Estate Bay of Islands Syrah 2006 (c) Is this wine really five years old? It's big, it's rich, it's juicy, it's meaty, it's savoury, but most of all, it's yummy. Impenetrable blackberry red in colour, I could smell chocolate emanating from the glass as soon as it was poured, along with mocha, cedar, blackberry and pepper. That chocolate carries through to the plush, smooth, velvety palate where it is supported by a savoury meaty backbone, loads of juicy blackberries and blueberries , cake spices and pepper, with a hint of jaffa brightness as the flavours linger. 14% alc. $35. 24May2011.

Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (c) Deep dark purple red, showing just a little dilution at the edges. Vanilllin oak on the nose, sweet and juicy, peppery and chocolatey in the palate, that lovely floral brightness, with a year of age it is seductive drinking. Perhaps does not have the intense complexity of the others but is perhaps the most drinkable, so far. Harmonious, clean, spicy, fruity, very good. Neil said "yummy". Bright, fragrant, peppery - lots of rose. 18.5/20. 14% alc. $39.95. 29Nov2008.

Newton Forrest Syrah 2006 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (sc) Deep black-red with a purple hue, shiny in appearance. Oak driven nose of fragrant cedar and tar and a touch of pretty florals. Gorgeous velvety tannin structure - so sensuous and smooth as the wine coats the mouth and a beautiful spice regime of pepper, anise, liquorice and just a hint of tar. Elegant and clean with juicy purple fruit, dark smoky French oak and a long smooth succulent, spicy finish - this particular sample of full-bodied deliciousness totally reflects 5-star quality. 14% alc. $45.99. 2Jul2008.

Ngatarawa Silks Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Spicy smelling with black cherry and savoury dried herbs, it's earthy and savoury to the taste with black fruit and peppery spices. A light, simple style with a soft, juicy finish. 12.5% alc. $22. 9Oct2007.

Passage Rock Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah 2006 (sc) Deep, purple black in colour, this wine exudes opulence with its spicy, pepper-infused savoury oak aromas and it big, rich, ripe, creamy oak, juicy purple fruit and sweet, spicy flavours. A sumptuous wine made with a combination of French and American oak, the pepper signature of Syrah is prominent throughout. Stunning as always. 14.5% alc. $52.99. 30Jan2008.

Sacred Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2006 (sc) Deep purple red with a spicy aroma full of aromatic spices, dried herbs and orange zest, it tastes soft, ripe and creamy with rich cherry fruit, red jelly babies and purple jube flavours underpinned with chicory and spice. Soft, juicy and very approachable, it has that distinctive NZ Syrah character, the tar and roses, the white pepper with allspice and creamy oak adding to its allure. Soft tannins and medium-bodied in style. 13% alc. $19.95. 1 May2007.

Sacred Hill 'The Wine Thief Series' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Like a ripe blackberry in colour, shiny with a bright crimson-purple-red on the edge. Peppery notes float out of the glass with an amalgam of berry scents and pepper characterises the varietal makeup of the flavour - joined by florals, fruit cake spices, cherries and a purple fruit richness with firm meaty tannins forming a harmonious bond. It's spicy and savoury with an explosion of berry fruit sweetness, yet there is an earthy tarry depth to the wine too. It's incredibly dry and best with food. 18.5/20. 13.5% alc. $27. 18Jul2008.
Deep blackberry red with crimson edges. Savoury and spicy with lots of pepper on the nose, the savoury spiciness carries through to the palate to be joined with juicy, ripe cherry and blackberry fruit. It is developing a mellow character, tannins are firm and meaty and the finish is dry. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 11Feb2009.

Saltings Estate Matakana Syrah 2006 (D) Deep dark red in colour, it's leathery and tarry with allspice and soft winey scent, there's plenty of acidity in the wine despite the juicy sweet fruit that has a purple plushness and vibrant peppery spice. It's long and sweet with silky tannins and a dark, leather-tinged, savoury finish. Matured in only older oak, it is the softer, more elegant of the Saltings and Sandspit Syrahs and the best match to herb-crusted rack of lamb. 12.5% alc. $26. 23Mar2008.

Sandspit Cove Matakana Syrah 2006 (D) A bright, crimson red colour makes this wine look appealing from the outset. There's a whiff of varnish-like volatile acidity on the nose but it initially does not detract from the rich, ripe, creamy flavours with new French oak adding complexity and layers. Full of vibrant cherry fruit and baking spices with a touch of chocolate on a bed of velvety tannins with florals and a peppery finish, I wonder if the oak is hiding some faults as the volatile acidity raises its ugly head on the finish. However, this wine, on the second day, worked a treat with a medium rare cooked fillet steak. 12.5% alc. $22. 23Mar2008.

Silver Bay Northland Syrah 2006 (sc) Lovely ripe, creamy, chocolate and vanilla aroma and bright, fruity, sweet and savoury flavours. It's juicy with a savoury, leathery undercurrent to the nutty oak and macerated cherry flavours with an anise spiciness. Medium-bodied in style and just a little short, but has a bright, fruity charm. The fruit comes from From Paewhenua Island, just south of Coopers Beach in the Mangonui Harbour, and it's made by Karikari Estate. Excellent value. 13% alc. $19. 7Oct2007.

Stone Paddock Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Copious amounts of white pepper on the nose together with a peppery, carnation-like scent give no doubt to the variety. It tastes earthy, savoury and liquoricey with smooth tannins. Perhaps a slight metallic edge to the flavour and loads of spicy, peppery bite, it opens up well with time in the bottle to impart a juicy, cherry/choc sweetness to balance the savouriness on the smooth, creamy finish. 14% alc. $23. 7Jan2008.

Te Mania Nelson Syrah 2006 (D) Lovely and fragrant on the nose with hints of rose spice, it’s ripe and juicy in the palate with the floral prettiness of Syrah adding to the varietal spicy character of the grape. For the price this medium-bodied wine delivers. It has length and persistence with a fresh, floral aftertaste and a little bit of an earthy depth. 12.5% alc. $21.90. 4Sep2007.
Deep, rich and meaty with musk and violet overlay to the delicately spicy aromas. Rich and succulent, dry and full of peppery spice in the palate. It's bright and uplifted to the taste with raspberry fruit, a smooth silky tannin structure that has an enveloping slipperiness and a very succulent and delicious aftertaste which has length and juiciness. Medium-bodied in style, with a little more concentration, this would have been a gold medal wine. ****. 12.5% alc. $21.95. 7Oct2007.

Te Mata Bullnose Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 Deep blackberry red. The nose entices with its complex scent that is reminiscent of freshly ground pepper, tar, creamy oak, rose spice, brambles, cherries and hints of dried herbs. Gorgeously creamy as it flows through the mouth with silky-smooth, velvet-edged tannins and flavours full of bright red and black fruits and exotic spices with chicory, tar and liquorice on the concentrated, smoky, slightly charry, peppery finish. Very dry, but with a lushness just waiting to be released, it just needs a little more time. 13.5% alc. $39.99. Cork.12Mar2008.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Moderately deep blackberry red. Loads of white and black pepper on the nose with a delicate floral nuance and concentrated brambly fruit. Very dry to the taste, dry and savoury with a touch of chicory but a remarkably smooth and slippery texture that counteracts the initial dry grippiness . It evolves so beautifully in the glass with cherry, spiced plums, aniseed, fine-grained tannins and a lovely balance to the long lasting finish. Co-fermented with 5% Viognier . 13% alc. $22.99.12Mar2008.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2006 (D) - Hawkes Bay Deep dark colour. Gently spicy aromas with dark chocolate and a touch of black cherry. Smoky and a little varnishy in the palate at first with plenty of gutsy spices and a touch of marmite, it is savoury rather than fruity and the most Rhône-like in the line-up of 5 wines. Loads of underlying juiciness plus cherries, chicory and liquorice. Long, lasting succulent aftertaste. 18/20. 13.5% alc. $30. 13Oct2008.

Trinity Hill Homage Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (c) Deep boysenberry red, opaque and deep. Dark, rich, succulent and savoury on the nose with exotic spices and concentrated berry fruit - peppery spices introduce the palate of this exciting wine. It's succulent and savoury, dark and intriguing with purple and black fruits, youthful velvety tannins, leather, spice, musk, rose, a creamy richness and a density and weight that is rarely seen. Mostly French oak with some American, the best grapes from the vintage were selected and just 310 dozen bottles were produced. 14% alc. $122.00. 30Jan2008.
Very youthful blackberry red with a hint of violet and minuscule crimson edges. Deep complex aroma, floral, fragrant, Rhonish. Beautifully fine tannin structure with a chocolate/pepper/spice backbone to the complex spicy flavour with sumptuous red and black fruit, a touch of earthiness and the fragrant aromatics coming forth again to lift and filling the spicy savoury finish. A beautiful wine with finesse and character and great length. 4% alc. $122.00. 2Jul2008.

Trinity Hill White Label Shiraz 2006 (sc) Not overtly peppery on the nose, it smells like a sweet-fruited, ripe, juicy red wine but there's some grippiness to the tannins and some earthiness to the taste. It opens up with time in the bottle and reveals rich, juicy, winey flavours full of pepper, spice, tar and chocolate, empower the wine and expand on the palate . What it lacks on the nose, it makes up for in taste. 13% alc. $20. 7Jan2008.

Vidal Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Deep intense boysenberry red, opaque and bright, this is so cut-and-dried Syrah with its black pepper and black fruit scents with a hint of liquorice and a touch of funky leather. Full-bodied, succulent, classy and full of finesse with a hint of mint joining the chocolate, tar, boysenberry and plum, with a juicy and succulence that just makes it so appealing, it's hard to believe this is only the second tier wine in the Vidal range. 14% alc. $25.99.5Mar2008.
Vivid purple blackberry red. Abundant black and red pepper on the nose - lifted and floral with classy oak. Quite dry at first to the taste becoming rich, rounded and intense with juicy black cherry and blueberry, a complex array of exotic spices with liquorice and fruitcake nuances. Tannins are dry and finely structured yet still quite grippy and there is a lashing of leather on the finish with abundant pepper on the lingering red fruit aftertaste. 14% alc. $28.99. 2Jul2008.

Vidal Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Purple red colour, saturated to the edges, amazing for its age. Full, rich aromas of chocolatey oak, blackberry, faint hint of pepper, then sweet, generous, rounded, upfront flavours of red fruit, pepper, vanillin oak, allspice and chocolate. With its firms tannins and youthful impression, there is still plenty of life ahead in this blockbuster. A great example of Hawkes Bay Syrah. 14% alc. $56.99. 18Nov2009.
Deep crimson purple colour. On the nose there is cracked red pepper, black cherry and chocolate with hints of earth, vanillin oak and spice while pepper penetrates the smooth, mouthfilling, full-bodied palate that's rich with outstanding depth of fruit. A stunning wine that doesn't look or taste 4 years old, although the seamlessness to the texture may just be a clue. 14% alc. $56.99. 10Mar2010.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2006 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (sc) A deep shiny purple/ blackberry red. Fragrantly scented and peppery with a hint of chocolate and meaty spices – yes it smells quite meaty. Ripe and juicy to the taste with milk chocolate and black pepper combining in the most interesting way and red and blue fruits filling the palate and lingering on the lifted finish. It is complex in its spice and oak regime and like the Vidal, it is finely structured with firm dry tannins and a lashing of leather. 14% alc. $34.99. 2Jul2008.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Viognier 2006 (sc) - Hawkes Bay Deep, dense, purple-flushed red. Wow - abundant pepper and rose spice scents. A firm tannined wine, savoury and tarry with a red fruit brightness, dried herb and a dry finish with lingering spicy flavours, creamy oak and a touch of chocolate. Quite sweet yet dry, it does what it is meant to do with a floral lift to the lingering aftertaste. 18/20. 13.5% alc. $31. 13Oct2008.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006 (sc) Deep boysenberry/blackberry red, huge in colour and huge in aroma and flavour. There' a deep varnishy oak character and a hint of menthol to aroma and sweet ripe purple and red jubey-fruit flavours with a pronounced peppery undercurrent. It's juicy, succulent and generous with creamy oak, liquorice, tar, leather and a refined tannin structure and a mouthfilling but very dry finish. 14% alc. $63.99.5Mar2008.

Waimarie Muriwai Valley Syrah 2006 (c) A transparent to translucent deep cherry red. Similar scent (pepper, cake spice, cherry) to the 2004 tasted at the same time, but with a more youthful veneer. Bright-fruited to the taste with savoury oak, a touch of earth and leather, dried rose petals, a hint of chocolate and red and black cherry fruit. Medium-bodied in style with smooth fine tannins, it has a savoury, peppery infusion throughout and it's long in flavour with a vinous richness that fills the mouth along with the pepper-tinged red fruit brightness. 13% alc. $28.50. 22Jan2009.

Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Syrah 2006 (sc) Rich and dense in its saturated purple crimson colour. Bright, inviting aromas with cherry, pepper, chocolate and later hints of coconut oak and 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. Made by Obsidian, it was aged in 40% new American oak and 60% seasoned oak for 12 months. 14% alc. $29.50. 7Oct2007.

2005 Vintage [top] [index]

Awaroa Organic Vineyard Waiheke Island Syrah 2005 (c) Inky blackberry red. Intensely concentrated aromas of black fruit, creamy oak and cherries. Powerful in the palate, dark and savoury with a focussed spicy impression of nutmeg and allspice with hints of pepper and rose musk and blueberry and blackberry fruit. Rich, thick and chocolatey with a silky tannin structure and a long, savoury, rose pepper finish. Dried herbs and tobacco emerge to give the wine a savoury Rhonish complexity and the sweet fruit flourishes again on the aftertaste. 15.3% alc. $45.00 22Jul2007.

Bilancia 'La Collina' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (D) 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. With 22 months in French Burgundy barrels (90% new), it's very young and needs time to evolve. 2% Viognier. 14% alc. $80. 7Oct2007.

CJ Pask Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2005 (sc) A robust, soft, low acid style with abundant red fruit and lashings of rose pepper and tar with chocolatey oak that adds a creaminess to the lifted finish. It's earthy and savoury with depth, concentration, firm tannins and some earthy, pinot noir-like, nuances as well. 13% alc. $22. 23Dec2006.

Corbans Private Bin Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Purple-red coloured, deep and reasonably dense like shiny berries, it smells peppery, leathery and nuggety with earthy nuances, spiced plums and hints of sweet oak. Deliciously ripe and juicy, crammed with flavours of succulent berries, plums, polished French oak, lots of spice that includes anise, allspice and black pepper and hints of bitter chocolate, it's well structured and perfumed with a firm acid backbone, a silky texture and a long, earthy, savoury finish. Medium to full-bodied in style, it's really hitting its straps now. 13.5% alc. $23.95. 22Feb2007.

Cottage Block Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 Deep, intense, vibrant purple black with purple edges. Exotic musky spices, white pepper, cherry and tarry oak on the nose and dry, peppery flavours with hints of dried herbs, and plums and violets emerging on the long, spicy, flavoursome finish. 13% alc. $28.99. 21Mar2007.

Coxhead Creek Vineyard Reserve Matakana Syrah 2005 (sc) A deep crimson colour with reasonable intensity of hue. Fragrant, floral and peppery on the nose and rich and intense in flavour with nice earthy tones to balance the bright cherry and purple fruit that is underpinned by well-balanced acidity. Evolving in the glass it is spicy, salty and zesty with a floral brightness, hints of rose petal and a marmite savouriness, it is soft yet has structure behind it and is subtle in its power and long and succulent in its flavour. 13.5%. $36. 17May2008.

Craggy Range Block 14 Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (sc) Inky, boysenberry red, purple-black in the core and almost right to the dazzling brilliant crimson edges. Syrah's hallmark pepper emanates out of the glass together with dark purple fruits and hints of liquorice and there are lashings of black pepper flavours together with leather, red and purple berries, rose spice and tar. It's a savoury wine with drying tannins balanced by an overall juiciness and an array of flavours on the finish - liquorice, smoke, tobacco, berries and floral spices. A fascinating wine with freshness and vitality. From the Gimblett Gravels sub region with 16 months in French oak. 13% alc. $37.99. 28Mar2007.
Deep and dark in both colour and taste, the nose is slightly marred by 'Brett' aromas that take a while to reveal the distinctive black pepper that soon emerges from the tarry depth. A big style of peppery NZ Syrah, ripe and creamy, full-bodied and rich with dark berry fruit balancing the abundant savoury characters. 13% alc. $38. 2Jun2007.

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (sc) Deep black cherry red with a brightness to the inky hue, this has a deep, complex perfumed aroma with white pepper and hints of rose spice. Quite dry to the taste, medium-bodied in intensity with savoury oak, hints of bacon, rose petals, red fruit, a touch of leather, a hint of tar and a peppery array of spices with hints of anise lingering on the finish which seems a little hot. I'd like to see this develop and integrate a little more. 13.5% alc. $24. 14Aug2007.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (sc) Inky, crimson-edged, lustrous purple black colour, fine in its appearance. It exudes exotic spices with liquorice, black pepper, fresh lavender and it's ripe and creamy, soft and seductive, with juicy purple berry fruit, violets, lavender, chocolatey oak, meaty tannins and a long, juicy, lingering finish. It's very dry, very exotic, very smart and very moreish. 20 months in French oak, 50% new. 14.5% alc. $49.99. 21Mar2007.
Deep in colour, this is distinctly an elegant style of Kiwi Syrah with a black pepper, tar and rose fragrance and a rich, ripe taste of liqueur cherries with a hint of mint, peppery spice and Syrah's distinctive florals coming through in a very nice kind of way. It's savoury and sweet at the same time, with firm tannins and a dry finish. A very attractive wine. French oak. 50% new. 14.5% alc. $50. 2Jun2007.
Deep in its purple black colour with black pepper grind scents and red berry fruits on the nose, it's spicy, savoury, meaty and initially earthy to the taste. Concentrated purple fruits, spice and tar then lavender and dried herbs adding a floral allure, it seems Rhonish in style but this savoury, complex and concentrated beast morphs into a beauty on the finish where peppered chocolate infused with a cherry sweetness lingers minutes after the wine is swallowed. Matured in French oak for 18 months. 14.5% alc. $49.99. 21Nov2007.

Gunn Estate Hawkes Bay Silistria Syrah 2005 (sc) Deep dark red. Voluptuous creamy vanillin oak and cherry chocolate on the nose - floral notes and flower musk emerge with deep inhaling. Rich, savoury and meaty in the palate, intense and concentrated with a spicy undercurrent, a crisp blackberry fruitiness, a cherry-filled Shrewsbury biscuit backbone and chocolate and mocha on the full-bodied finish. Ripe and voluptuous with reasonably grunty fine textured tannins giving the wine power, there's an elegance to its delivery and with its sweet oak, it's appealing throughout. 13.5% alc. $29.95 22Jul2007.

John Forrest Collection Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 Vividly coloured - a boysenberry, crimson-edged red. Musk and pepper on the nose, juicy red fruits in the palate, quite grippy, velvet-edged tannins and gorgeous aromatic spice. Oak is warm and toasty and the finish is very dry. It looks very good but I'd like to give it more time. Decant if drinking now. 14% alc. $70. 26Jul2007.

Kennedy Point Waiheke Syrah 2005 Rose pepper and creamy cedar on nose, tight knit but succulent with cherry and blueberry fruit - perhaps more red fruits - and a long dry finish. Length and flavour. Nicely balanced not OTT. Viognier adds charm and smooth silky texture. 14% alc. $32. 9Oct2006.

Mills Reef Elspeth Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 An absolutely captivating aroma, but it tastes so tight, tight, tight - it must be given more time. It's a wine of focus, length and varietal character with its spicy backbone and hints of chocolate and cherry, a gorgeously silky texture and a floral lift to the finish. The oak is subtle rather than dominating - it’s the chorus in the background letting the shiraz fruit and spice play the starring roles. It's going to be a star. 14% alc. $39.95. 29Jan2007.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 Deep ruby crimson with a gemmy glow, this is a gorgeous syrah, it's fragrantly oaky and juicy, fruity and spicy with cherry plums, pepper, earth, sweet leather with sultry silky tannins and a warming glow to the earthy savoury, smoked meats finish. A touch of jaffa adds allure to the lingering aftertaste. Lovely, lovely wine. 13.5% $22.95. 19Jan2007.
Deep dark red with a savoury, meaty, winey aroma infused with vanillin oak, and full-bodied, spicy flavours with good acidity, fine-grained firm-textured meaty tannins, a iron-like earthiness and dark, succulent fruit with a touch of allspice on the juicy, savoury finish. A very impressive wine. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 28Jan2007.

Mission Reserve Syrah 2005 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (D) A soft little number with subtle mint, cherry and creamy biscuity oak on the nose - it becomes quite floral with persistent swirling. It's soft and seductive in the palate with smooth tannins, white pepper, rose petals, leather, a hint of tar and very good length. I thought it was Australian at first, but it is not nearly so in your face. In fact it is typical of the style of a medium to full-bodied NZ syrah. Matured in French oak. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 17Jan2007.
Dark red with medium depth of colour, it's distinctly New Zealand with white pepper and rose petal coming through the creamy oak on the nose followed up by cherry and blackboy peach in the palate. A spicy, savoury, medium-bodied style with hints of dried herbs, a purple fruit finish and liquorice on the aftertaste. Matured in French oak. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 25Apr2007.

Ngatarawa Glazebrook Syrah 2005 (sc) This rich dry wine is deep purple red with pepper and dark cedary aromas and robust flavours. Dry tannin structure, juicy undercurrent, a very long sweet oak finish with vanilla, cherry and a lingering aftertaste of cinnamon and peppery spices. 13.5% alc. $27. 9Oct2006.

Okahu Estate Shipwreck Bay Northland Syrah 2005 (sc) Rich and spicy scented with sweet fruit and a slightly earthy, funky vanillin edge, the generous flavours of wild berries, blue berries, pot pourri and mulled wine spices will make this juicy little quaffer appeal to money conscious wine buyer. It offers great drinkability without too much varietal character but will give any Aussie 'quaffer' a run for the money. 13% alc. $16. 7Jan2008.

Passage Rock Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah 2005, a just-bottled but not-yet-released wine, is going to be a super star - mark my words. It's deep plummy red with opulent aromas of creamy vanillin oak and blackberries leading into a dry spicy palate with bitter chocolate, cedar, cigar and violets. There's a lovely spicy undercurrent and a long, creamy, chocolatey finish. It distinctly shows the varietal characters of Syrah along with silky tannins and delicious, ripe fruit. 14.5% alc. $50. 11Feb2006.
Vivid inky purple red with a spice-infused smoky, cedar aroma and masses of spice in the palate - pepper, allspice, cinnamon, anise and liquorice - laced with sweet vanillin oak, concentrated plum and blueberry fruit and violets, it's robust and powerful with firm but succulent meaty tannins and a biscuity backbone. It's got more richness, more tannins, more length and more $$$ on the label (than the other Passage Rock Syrah) - but it's worth it. A wine to seduce you now and for a long time into the future.14.5% alc. $52.99. Screwcap. 6Sep2006.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2005 (sc) Vivid, inky purple red with a smoky, cedary aroma, a gorgeous tannin structure, depth of flavour and length, this is huge wine loaded with spices, blueberry and black cherry fruit, liquorice, anise and toasted sweet oak. With plenty of warmth and richness and fantastic cellaring potential, it's a steal at the price. 14.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap. 6Sep2006.
Dark, shiny black red, fully opaque to the dark red rims. A big wine with a fragrant, sweet oaked spicy aroma with hints of orange peel and mint and rich, complex, full-bodied flavours full of bright red berry and blackberry fruit with a creamy, vanilla chocolate backbone, a touch of leather and tar and succulent juicy tannins with a grainy edge. 14.5% alc. $31.99. 18Jul2007.

Sacred Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (sc) Bright pinky-red coloured, this has a lovely floral, dry peppery fragrance and good definition of bright cherry and raspberry fruit in the juicy palate with fruit cake spices and a soft finish. However, if served too cold it seems to lack generosity and roundness. 13% alc. $19.95. 16Jun2006.

Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2005 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (sc) Deep purple black, opaque to the crimson edges, the aroma is savoury and peppery with hints of rose spice and the taste is dry and peppery, tarry and nuggetty with beautifully fine grained tannins, wood smoke and savoury dried herbs balancing the dark plummy fruit. A very smart wine with opulence, concentration and power, it's been matured in French oak for 16 months and is very much in the mould of a northern Rhone style. 13.5% alc. $60.99. 11Apr2007.

Southbank Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (c) Smoky, spicy, musky and peppery with a nuggety richness, thie aromas are deep and complex but it is a little one-dimensional to the taste. It has loads of pepper but is quite high-toned and a little dry and bitter on the finish. However, with time in the bottle, a softness and creaminess emerges. 12.5% alc. $24.99. 7Jan2008.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (sc) You can smell and taste the pepper in this fabulous deep plummy red, crimson edged wine. It's fresh and vibrant with creamy oak, black fleshed peach, wild blackberries, a little bit of grip to the tannins on the finish and just a nuance of musk with very good length and fruit sweetness as it lingers. Medium-bodied in style, it is made from a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier, although the latter is no longer mentioned on the label. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 18Oct2006.

Te Mata Bullnose Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (c) Dense crimson red with bright edges, it's tantalisingly fragrant with creamy oak, subtle pepper and spice box on the nose. Full-boded in style, it's spicy, long and savoury with chocolate, damson plums and rose spice (which you get on your fingers after cutting a rose from a bush). Still a baby with its tight, complex structure, firm acidity underpins the wine and dried herbs and that rose spice character linger deliciously on the succulent creamy finish. Intense, fine, lively and very very good. 13.5% alc. $43.99. Cork. 18Oct2006.
Dark red still with purple on the edges. A floral smelling wine with chocolate biscuits, earth, dried herbs perhaps even some mint adding to its sensory appeal. The taste is concentrated and meaty with a Moroccan market of spices and depth to the black cherry and jammy blackcurrant fruit. Silky smooth with chocolatey oak lingering on the dry, lifted finish. Drinking beautifully right now. 13.5% alc. $NA. 17Mar2010.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (D) Deep blueberry jam red. Fragrant with rich, sweet, jammy, black pepper and dried herb aromas and quite dry in the sweet-fruited, medium-bodied palate with raspberry, cherry, toasty vanillin oak and tar, firm tannins and a bitter rosehip-like finish which becomes quite peppery as it lingers. Young, succulent and juicy - it's a little reminiscent of a modern Spanish Garnacha - but it ain't. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 11Jul2007.

Unison Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (D) Deep purple violet red with a lustrous glow, this intense, deep, complex, meaty wine smells aromatic and spicy, even a little citrussy! It's dry to the taste, dry and savoury with silky, fine-grained, dusty tannins, abundant cedary oak, a hint of citrus, cocoa, leather, tar and chicory with concentrated spiced plum and cherry fruit sweetness on the full-bodied lingering, smoky finish. A fascinating wine with many waves of flavours. 14% alc. $36.99. 31Jan2007.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (sc) Opulent purple/red, deep and shiny. Vibrant black pepper on the nose with a hint of a marmite character and savoury, spicy, peppery and earthy flavours with plum jam, liquorice, chocolate and iodine with a hint of tar and a suggestion of wild roses. Deep and profound but still very tight in its tannin structure. 13.5% alc. $36.99. 13Feb2008.
Deep dark red in colour - the abundant pepper and rose petal on the nose immediately points to NZ Syrah. There's a hint of bottle-aged funk, tar and earthy notes to the aroma too. Quite savoury and peppery to the taste with the oak now quite harmonised and mellow and the juicy berry fruits quite luscious - it's a very dry wine yet vinously sweet with a hint of liquorice on the finish and shows how well the Cellar Selection Syrah can age. 13.5% alc. $NA. 29Jul2009.

William Thomas Marlborough Syrah 2005 (c) Saturated colour of ripe blackberries picked straight off the vine. Deliciously varietal with its distinct Syrah aroma of freshly ground black pepper and liquorice. Full-bodied and bright in the palate with red fruits, chocolate, cherries, dried herbs, tar and leather, it goes from rich and spicy to dry and savoury to creamy to smoky as it swathes a tasty path across the palate. Mouthfilling and long with fruit brightness on the velvety aftertaste, this is quite sensational for its Marlborough origin. 14.5% alc. $50.00 22Jul2007.

Wishart Alluvion Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 (c) Spicy, floral, peppery and fragrant - true to the variety as we know it from Hawkes Bay. Deeply saturated colour and a bright, lifted palate - pretty and floral with underlying savouriness and a deep brooding undercurrent with creamy oak paving the way for a long smooth, powerfully long and almost luscious finish. It has guts as well as grace. 13% alc. $29.90. 20May2008.

2004 Vintage [top] [index]

Awhitu Greenock Syrah 2004 (c) A light coloured wine with a smoky, savoury aroma and a savoury, lightly spicy flavour with an earthy depth. The fruit is in the strawberry / cherry spectrum. It reminded me of a lighter styled pinot noir. 13% alc. $29.70. 14Oct2007.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2004 - Hawkes Bay Dense purple violet. Beautiful aroma of flowers, spiced cherry, subtle chocolate, pepper and savoury oak tantalise the nose and concentrated fruit flavours of raisin, red and purple berries and juicy plums underpinned by a plethora of spices and succulent firm silky tannins seduce the palate. So intense, so concentrated - a very powerful full-bodied wine with a firm acid backbone and dark dusty savoury oak harmonising with the fruit and culminating in a warm ripe finish with a savoury, tarry aftertaste that has a peppery flourish and mouthfilling blackberry. Talk about vinfanticide, it seems such a shame to drink it so young, but it had to be done. 14% alc. $87. 17Nov2006.

Bridge Pa Vineyard Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (c) Biscuity, wheaty (oaty), a strong full wine with rich berry fruit, cedary oak, a sliver of honey/glycerol that adds to the fantastic mouthfeel and a deliciously spicy finish with a succulent and richly fruity aftertaste. 14% alc. $27.95. 1Sep2005.
Vibrant blackberry red (or even more purple). Inky. Fragrant with musk and pepper aromas and sweet, baked blackberry flavours. Lovely mouthfeel. Fruitcake cherries, pepper, liquorice, musk and a long, juicy finish. 9Nov2005.

Bridge Pa Louis Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (D) Deep purple red with intriguing, perfumed, spicy aromas of cedar, cinnamon and allspice, this rich, voluptuous, creamy wine has firmly structured but succulent meaty tannins, smoky toasty oak, a touch of chocolate, ripe plum and cherry fruit and hints of violets and rose hips on the dark, long, finish. 14% alc. 42.99. 6Sep2006.
Deep inky red. Aromatic, wine soaked bread and spice box aromas infuse into vanillin cedar that pave the way for voluptuous, full-bodied flavours of cherry and ripe berry fruit with liquorice, cedar, chocolate and seductive velvety tannins that still have a little grip. A hint of musk emerges to linger on the subtle peppery finish. A meaty wine and a stunning example of NZ Syrah. 14% alc. $42.99. 8Nov2006.
Black red in colour, it smells a little herbal on the nose, rosemary perhaps, and leather but it's sweet and juicy to the taste and such a contrast to the previous wine. It's a big wine, a robust wine, powerful and savoury, tarry and chocolatey with chicory and fruit cake spices, firm tannins, sweet oak and a lingering succulent winey finish. Twelve months in French and American oak. 14% alc. $42.99. Diam. 17Jan2007.

Corbans Private Bin Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Purple-red coloured, deep and reasonably dense like shiny berries, it smells peppery, leathery and nuggety with earthy nuances, spiced plums and hints of sweet oak. Deliciously ripe and juicy, crammed with flavours of succulent berries, plums, polished French oak, lots of spice that includes anise, allspice and black pepper and hints of bitter chocolate, it's well structured and perfumed with a firm acid backbone, a silky texture and a long, earthy, savoury finish. Medium to full-bodied in style, it's really hitting its straps now. 13.5% alc. $23.95. 22Feb2007.

Dry River Lovat Syrah 2004 - Martinborough In the glass the wine is a deep pool of purple-red and the aroma it emits is incredibly seductive, aromatic and floral with the peppery scent of carnation, the musky scent of rose, the berry scents of the grape and the spicy scent of oak. It smells warm and savoury with a coating of creamy chocoate that carries through to the palate to add lushness to the spicy flavoured taste. Rich, plush and velvety, full of red fruit with a beautiful array of spices and hints of rose pepper, the oak plays a supporting role in the background and the tannins are firm. An outstanding wine of depth, flavour, balance and length. Highly recommended with venison fillet cooked with a herb and bread crust and accompanied with a red wine and cranberry sauce. 12.5% alc. Release price $58. 16Sep2006.

Fromm La Strada Syrah 2004 (c) From new plantings on the Clayvin Vineyard, this is deep dark cherry red, almost opaque in the centre but not quite. It has rose petal, pepper, leather and tar aromas and sweet, bready fruit in the palate with a red liquorice infusion into the nutmeg and aromatic spices with hints of anise. Firmly structured with silky (grainy) tannins, beautifully integrated dark savoury oak and red fruits flourishing with rose pepper on the finish, like the 2004 reserve, this has 3% Viognier in the blend. 13% alc. $35. 9Mar2006.

Fromm La Strada Reserve Syrah 2004 (c) Deep in colour, like a boysenberry, opaque in the core of the glass and right to the edges where is has an intense violet red hue on the rim. The aromas are full of freshly ground multi-coloured peppercorns and the peppery spices follow through to the palate with leathery tannins. It's very dry with an earthy mystique and a meaty richness, then a succulent fruit sweetness emerges while the 3% Viognier that was co-fermented with the Syrah plays a part in adding muskiness to the lingering aftertaste. Just a baby, it really needs to be cellared for at least two years more before approaching but it has years of life ahead of it and can easily be cellared for at least ten years, perhaps longer. 13% alc. $55. 9Mar2006.

Gunn Estate 'Silistria' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) A deep black-hued red with dark, purple-red rims, fragrant, spicy, peppery aromas and rich, meaty, leathery flavours. Add wild blackberries, rose peppercorns, liquorice, firm tannins and savoury smoky oak with some acidity on the finish that lingers with a musky, meaty fragrance. 14% alc. $19.95. 9Oct2005.

Hatton Estate Syrah 2004 Pre-release sample, just bottled. Intense purple crimson, it shows some reductiveness on the nose at first but that soon goes to reveal grapefruit and acorn-like aromas. It is spicy in the palate with some acidity, grippy tannins, and a floral, pepper and leather aftertaste. It's going to be a blockbuster when it is released. $60. 25Mar2005.

John Forrest Collection Syrah 2004 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (sc) Deep crimson red with a purple-black core. Concentrated bright red fruit and new leather with a whiff of charcoal on the nose and an amalgam of pepper, liquorice and allspice in the palate with cherry, plum and blackberry fruit swimming in chocolate liqueur and a musky rose petal character to the finish. An extravagant wine with powerful yet smooth tannins and beautifully integrated cedary oak. 14% alc. $49.95. 12Jul2006.
Deep purple-red in colour with meaty, spicy, leathery aromas, it's full of succulent fruit flavours with creamy oak, violets, rose spice and white pepper. Full-bodied with smooth, fine, firm structured tannins, it's powerful and stylish with a floral lift to the long, dry finish. 14% alc. $49.99. 31Oct2007.

Karikari Estate Northland Syrah 2004 (sc) Youthful plummy, purple-hued red with crimson rims, a fragrant, meaty aroma with peppery spices, a floral nuance and later chocolate box, and dry peppery flavours with a hint of musk over leather with creamy oak, liquorice, macerated cherries and spice with dusty tannins and a lingering spicy, fragrant finish. Good varietal definition. 12% alc. $26.90. 9Oct2005.

Kennedy Point Waiheke Syrah 2004 Lifted and fragrant with slightly leathery nuances on the front of the dry, floral, peppery palate. The dry texture becomes quite juicy and silky as the wine takes over the mouth and the aftertaste lingers with a touch of cherry and a smidgen of chocolate. A richly fragrant finish no doubt enhanced by the 2% Viognier in the blend. $30. 11Feb2006.

Kennedy Point Waiheke Reserve Syrah 2004 Rich and robust, powerful, full-bodied, dry and spicy, with rose spice nuances, hints of chocolate, cedary oak. Long and full. 13.5 % $45. 9Oct2006.

Matariki Aspire Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Despite its big, rich, cherry red colour this is a lighter style of Syrah with soft tannins over a chocolatey backbone, cherry and plum fruit, fruit cake spice, a salty, slightly herbal (mint / rosemary) nuance and a slightly grippy finish that morphs into fleshy, full aftertaste. Very drinkable at the price and lots of characters that will make it a terrific match to all cuts of lamb. 13% alc. $18.95. 19Jul2006.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Plum red in colour with pink-red rims. Quite cedary on the nose with an overlay of vanilla and a hint of cherry liqueur, and a savoury, spicy, sweet-oaked palate with concentrated plum and cherry fruit, chocolate and liquorice, a smooth texture, well-structured silky tannins and a musky note to the meaty finish. There is something really intriguing about the aroma and a juiciness to the flavour that makes it simply delicious. 14% alc. $24.95. 9Oct2005.

Mission Reserve Syrah 2004 -Hawkes Bay Inky blackberry red, youthful and bright. Fragrant cedary oak, vanilla and pepper aromas with plenty more twists from the pepper mill in the palate. Fragrant and juicy to the taste with plum, raspberry and blueberry fruit, a hint of chocolate and a long, dry finish with a hint of violet as it lingers. 14.5% alc. $18.95. 25Jan2006.

Ngatarawa Silks Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 Inky in colour, almost black with crimson/purple rims. Aromatic, slightly minty smelling with concentrated blackberry and plum fruit, creamy oak, smooth tannins and a spicy succulent finish with sweet fruit lingering. 13% alc. $17.95. 19Oct2005.

Ohui Coromandel Peninsula Reserve Syrah 2004 (sc) Deep red in colour with a fragrant, floral perfume infused with vanillin oak and 'rose spice'. Warm, rich and harmonious wine with beautifully integrated cedary oak, peppery spices, juicy black cherry and plum fruit, cedary oak, velvety tannins and a dry savoury aftertaste with peppery spices flushing through it. It's medium to full-bodied in style and while delicious already, it has the potential to garner more complexity with age. 14% alc. $26. 30Sep2006.

Omaha Bay Vineyard Huapai Syrah 2004 (sc) Deep dark cherry red coloured, this fragrant wine has quite an opulent scent with floral nuances, vanillin oak, tart cherry fruit, dried herbs, leather and tar. It's medium-bodied in the palate with a savoury sweetness, fruit cake spices, raisins, leather, chocolate and a rustic, cedary, earthy undercurrent. There's underlying acidity that adds brightness to the earthy, slightly peppery finish which is mouthfilling and long with well-integrated cherry and chocolate and a touch of rose spice as it lingers. Made from Huapai fruit, it had 18 months in French oak. 13.5% alc. $30. 6Jul2007.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2004 (sc) Creamy oak, lifted bright red fruits laced with rose pepper spice, rich and full-bodied, a startling Syrah of exceptional quality with a firm grunty tannin structure, peppery spices and a lifted, well-balanced, full-bodied finish with lingering liquorice and a touch of chocolate on the creamy succulent finish. 14.5% alc. $70. 22Aug2005.
Deep, dense, bright blue/black coloured, this is spicy and complex with chocolatey oak on the nose, juicy red and black fruit, big tannins and a long dry savoury finish. There's a lovely floral character running through the wine while pepper underpins the palate without overpowering it. Succulence is the hallmark of this full-bodied deliciously creamy mouthful and the finish is long. Gold Royal Easter Wine Show. 14.5% alc. $51.95. 10May2006.

Red Rock The Underarm Syrah 2004 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (sc) Deep and dense in colour with blackcurrant hues, this is a meaty wine full of mocha and spice with a floral aroma, cherry and plum fruit, pepper and liquorice spices, grippy tannins, a creamy backbone. The finish is long and there's a musky, floral character that lingers along with copious amounts of peppery spices. Gold Royal Easter Wine Show. 14% alc. $19.95. 10May2006.

Sacred Hill 'Deerstalker' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Inky, blackberry red with a lustrous shine. Creamy smoky oak on the nose and dark, savoury, meaty, charry flavours with super concentrated plummy fruit, allspice, liquorice and tar. An opulent, powerful chocolatey wine that, at this stage of its life, is best decanted to let the juicy Syrah fruit escape from the tightly bound oak and tannins that it exhibits at this stage of its life. 14.5% alc. $59.95. 29Jun2006.

Stonecroft Young Vines Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 Very fragrant and peppery with leather and tar adding depth to the warm fruit flavours. Tannins just a little grippy at this stage. 13.5% alc. 19Sep2005.

Stonecroft 'Serine' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (D) Deep vivid purple red in colour, medium in its density. Fragrant blueberry fruit, savoury oak and peppery notes come through to titillate the nose and follow through to the palate where it's firm in structure with a dry backbone, lots of floral and spice connotations and beautiful balanced creamy oak. It seems a little austere at first, but that's only on the first sip because the depth of the berry fruit comes through to mellow that austerity and the tannins seduce with their smooth, velvety texture. Medium to full-bodied, this is a wine that needs time to muse over in the glass and bodes well for evolution in the cellar. 13.5% alc. $25. 18Sep2006.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 Deep plummy black-red with a potpourri of spice on the nose and spicy cedar in the palate. There's an initial peppery undercurrent to the dark berry fruit flavours then chocolate raisins add voluptuousness to the mid palate while spiced orange peel adds life and vibrancy and enhances the floral notes on the finish. 14% alc. $32.99. 6Sep2006.

Te Mata Bullnose Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 Blackberry red, inky in its depth. Crushed pepper and violets aromas lead into a finely structured palate with nutmeg, anise, dried herbs and rose petals combining with the concentrated red and black fruits. Lovely mouthfeel and fantastic length. 14% alc. 19Sep2005.
Very youthful, purple-hued crimson. Perfumed, musky. Still very young and tight with the vanilla oak playing a big part. Concentrated fruit, herbs de Provence and a lovely array of Syrah spice with a touch of orange pomander and a long, full-bodied, rich, concentrated finish. Give this a year or so and it will be stunning. 14% alc. $45. 10Oct2005.
Deep in colour with youthful, purple-crimson hues. Pepper aromas infuse into the slightly chocolatey, cedary French oak then in the mouth the fine tannins and the silky texture caress you while the full-bodied, biscuity, red cherry fruits seduce you. There's a musky fragrance to the wine which adds a wonderful allure, there's good acidity in the palate, it is very dry and the slightly tarry, cherry and bitter chocolate finish is long. 14% alc. $40. 15Feb2006.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah Viognier 2004 (sc) Quite floral and yeasty smelling with Syrah's typical pepperiness, it's very youthful right now with fresh, vibrant red fruits, even a hint of strawberry and gorgeous soft, slippery tannins. The Viognier is making its statement in this wine. 13.5% alc. 19Sep2005.
Delicate rose petal, apricot and cherry/chocolate aromas with an overlay of youthful cedary oak, slightly oily, cherry and chocolatey oak flavours with good varietal definition of peppery spice. Viognier (5%) seems more apparent in this wine and there's a musk and stonefruit character as the long smoky finish lingers with a fragrant, lifted aftertaste with a hint of fresh lavender. Juicy and flavoursome and already approachable. 13.5% alc. $25. 10Oct2005.

Unison Vineyard Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (c) Inky black red with crimson rims. Fragrant, floral, creamy and biscuity smelling with vanillin oak, black pepper and musk on the nose.. The pepper is more pronounced in the dark, rich, juicy palate with liquorice, dark chocolate, blackberry, purple fruits and black cherry fruit - the rose pepper muskiness comes to linger on the finish. Beautiful tannins structure - not too dry, not too sweet. A very, very good wine. 14% alc. $38. 9Nov2005.
Inky black red with purple rims, fragrant, biscuity cedar aromas and a rich weighty palate with a fine tannin structure, blackberry, black plum and black cherry fruit, white and black pepper, liquorice, dark chocolate and smoky vanillin oak. A rose pepper muskiness comes to linger on the fantastically long, supple finish. 14% alc. $38.95. 23Nov2005.

Vidal Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Aromatic, sweet fruited, cherries, spice, rose peppercorns, creamy oak, ripe tannins and a long, savoury finish make this a very approachable wine and fantastic for the price. 13.5% alc. $24.95. 6Sep2005.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Tasted after two powerful Aussie Shirazes, this Kiwi wine easily stood its ground because it's rich, ripe and robust and packed with juicy black cherry fruit, loganberry, liquorice, smoke and vanilla on a velvety tannined backbone that builds to a luscious, lingering and fulfilling finish. But give it time and the rose petals and tar, which seem to be a star feature of the best NZ Syrah's, come through with an underlying savouriness and nuances of Herbs de Provence to keep the sweet fruit in check. Beautifully balanced with a finish that is long and sensuous, this is stunning NZ Syrah. 14.5% alc. $58.99. 20Dec2006.

Vidal Soler Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Deep, dark and savoury with an impenetrable purple-red colour, rose pepper and chocolate on the nose and beautifully integrated polished oak in the palate with fine-grained succulent tannins, chocolate, juicy berries, exotic peppery spices and rose petals lingering on the gorgeously long, dry finish. Beautifully concentrated. A benchmark. 14.5% alc. $43.95. 22Mar2006.
Deep rich black red. Fragrant, chocolate-infused, cedary oak aromas, and succulent juicy flavours with a ton of black pepper, velvety tannins, vanillin oak, red and black berried fruits and a hint of rose petal. A big, fleshy wine with impeccable balance of fruit to oak and a fragrant spicy finish. Champion wine of the Show – Royal Easter Wine Show. 14.5% alc. $43.99. 16Aug2006.
Reddish black, opaque - reasonably developed from its original impenetrable purple red colour. A full-bodied, rich, dry chocolatey wine - peppery and spicy with dried herbs, bitter chocolate, red and black cherry fruit with some underlying acidity, spicy oak and grainy tannins. Like the colour, it is showing some development to the smoky finish which is long and lingering. 14.5% alc. $43.99. 18Jul2007.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2004 (sc) Spicy and creamy with dark, dusky oak, chocolate, tar, a hint of rose petal and sweet succulent spices. Creamy and lifted with a cherry and black peach finish. $28.95. 6Sep2005.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah / Viogner 2004 (sc) Chocolate smelling with black plums and black cherries, this is full of ripe fruit with leather, chocolate, mocha and creamy textured-savoury oak, and a vibrant peppery character on the long, sweet, savoury finish with lovely mouthfeel and length. $29.95. 6Sep2005.

Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc) Pepper and leather on the fragrant, spicy smelling nose with sweet oak, nutmeg, pepper and clove-like spices, fruit cake cherries, smoke, tobacco with soft juicy tannins and a ripe fruit finish. Very smart. 13.5% alc. $21.95. 6Sep2005.
Dense cherry red with smoky, sweet vanillin oak, cherry and red berry fruit, chocolate, soft juicy tannins and an underlying savouriness that adds a tarry note to the spicy peppery finish. Very smart for the price. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 30Nov2005.
Deep, youthful red-black in colour with a spicy, creamy aroma, a lovely fine tannin structure and a chocolatey backbone. It's rather reminiscent of Aussie Shiraz with its coconut, cherry jam and vanillin oak but a touch of cigar box makes the wine seem far more savoury on the long, juicy finish. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 8Feb2006.
Dark cherry-plum red with a perfumed chicory-like aroma and savoury, spicy flavours with juicy dark fruits, cherries, liquorice, chocolatey oak, smooth tannins and a long spicy finish. A gutsy, medium-bodied style. 13.5% alc. $19.95.29Mar2006.

Waimarie Muriwai Valley Syrah 2004 First crop Syrah from the Muriwai Valley vineyard, it's a deep garnet colour with cherries on the nose and soft, juicy flavours of cherries and spice together with toasty oak. It reminds me a little of a gutsy pinot noir with its savoury, earthy complexities. A huge departure from the Australia style, it's more like a rich, earthy, savoury pinot noir with a hint of peppery spice. 13% alc. $28. 11Jun2007.
Transparent fading garnet red. Show richness and complexity on the nose with well-integrated savoury creamy oak, a hint of pepper and cake spice with a touch of cherry too. A light-bodied style in the realm of the variety, it is dry and peppery in the palate with an earthy, savoury depth and a dried herb and a wild strawberry-like or delicately plummy sweetness on the silky textured finish. Light in attack but long in its sensual finish with rose pepper spice to the fore. 13% alc. $28.50. 22Jan2009.

2003 Vintage [top] [index]

Bilancia Hawkes Bay Syrah Viognier 2003 A deep, purple black colour with fragrant, slightly musky, peppery aromas and a richly spicy palate with a nice seam of black pepper, firm, tight, youthful tannins, concentrated plum and berry fruit and a long, earthy, savoury oak finish with leather and liquorice lingering on the smoky aftertaste. A musky, stonefruit character emerges to linger, too. Very impressive. 13.5% alc. $33.95. 19Oct2005.

Capricorn Wines Red Rock The Underarm Hawkes Bay Syrah 2003 (sc) With wonderfully fragrant creamy oak and crisp black peppery scents over well defined fruit, this alluring shining black red wine with its bright crimson edges is full of plums, blackberries, spicy oak, hints of tar and firm tannins. There's a fresh feel to the bright fruity finish and it looks very impressive tonight. 14% alc. $22.95/$19.95. 27Oct2004.
Rich, creamy oak, American oak, plums, blueberries, liquorice and mochaccino,. Hot and spicy. A palate grabber, a crowd pleaser. Ready now. Stunning NZ Syrah. 14% alc. $23.95. 1Sep2005.
Deep purple red. Inky. Fragrant. Lots of rich creamy, smoky oak, pepper, liquorice, violets with velvety tannins and a liquerish note to the warm, rich finish. 9Nov2005.
Inky purple/black with vibrantly coloured purple rims. Rich, spicy aromas with plum, leather and creamy oak, and lots of black pepper flavours with a lovely integration of oak, blueberry fruit and liquorice with dry tannins and a hint of musk adding to the floral nuances on the warm, rich, juicy finish. 14% alc. $19.95. 23Nov2005.

Dry River Lovat Vineyard Martinborough Syrah 2003 Deep inky, vivid purple red with a violet-purple edge. Aromas of creamy oak and nutmeg integrate with freshly cracked black pepper, with a sweet-scented, floral (carnation) overtone. Ultra-spicy in the palate with nutmeg and rose pepper jazzing up the juicy blackberry and black plum fruit. Dry, with firm, lightly grippy, silky tannins and a meaty, cracked pepper finish with hints of marmite, vanilla and liquorice and brighter fruit, like raspberries, lingering . A wine of super concentration that will reward cellaring, but aerate it (in a big glass or decanter) and it is delicious to drink now. 12.5% alc. $58 (mail order). 30Apr2005.

Fromm La Strada Reserve Syrah 2003 - Marlborough Inky blackish red showing a little fading on the more transparent, thin edges, it emanates peppery spice on the nose with hints of old rose and a boysenberry / blackberry depth - classically and varietally New Zealand Syrah. Very dry to the taste - dry, savoury and marmitey with loads of pepper and silky tannins. A meaty style that still seems to be evolving. The long, expansive floral and red fruited aftertaste shows great potential. 14% alc. $56.99. Cork. 9Jan2008.

Holmes Nelson Shiraz 2003 (sc) Stalky, dry, savoury and just a little leathery with a good smattering of pepper on the sweeter fruited finish. 13% alc. 1Sep2004.

Karikari Estate Northland Syrah 2003 (sc) Brightly hued, not completely opaque, a dry wine with spice-cupboard aromatics and lovely underlying rose pepper, bitter chocolate and bright raspberry/cherry spectrum fruit. Though very tight & structured at this stage with dry tannins and a yeasty malo influence, the enriching flavours on the finish show the potential. Viognier was added to the wine at blending. I'd like to see this develop in the bottle for a little longer. 12.6% alc. $26. 21Sep2004.
Perfumed with cherry, it smells sweet and ripe, succulent and juicy, intense and powerful with plenty of florals and rose stem spiciness. Lifted in the peppery palate, there's an initial phenol gargle character and crushed ants that distract from the promise on the nose. But the next day these distracting characters have gone and the result is a rich, powerful, dry red. 12.6% alc. $27. 7Oct2007.

Matua Matheson Syrah 2003 (sc) Good depth of purple red colour. Soft tannins, jammy red berry fruit and plums, vanillin oak and a peppery finish with lingering leather and tar. Full-bodied, smooth and ready now. $20.95. 13% alc. 21Mar2005.

Mills Reef Reserve Syrah 2003 (sc) This is a value packed wine with a colour and flavour that its price belies. With Syrah's characteristic peppery spice, hints of rose petal, a touch of leather and a smoky finish, this juicy berry flavoured wine is bound together with succulent tannins. Mills Reef's top tier Elspeth range is hard to beat but this reserve label certainly delivers. 13% alc. $19.95. 9Feb2005.
Deep inky red with characteristic peppery spice that covers the whole range of multi-coloured gourmet peppercorns with hints of rose petal, a touch of leather, velvety tannins, chocolate and red fruits. Nicely structured with smoky savoury oak, good acidity, a mouthfilling ripe-fruited finish and a creamy aftertaste, this wine has it all. It is young now but has a bright future and shows what Syrah can do in a vintage that was considered difficult for the Bordeaux variety reds. 13% alc. $18.95. 23Feb2005.

Murdoch James Saleyards Syrah 2003 Deep crimson purple-red, deep and inky, this is rich, powerful wine with creamy oak, sweet juicy cherry and blueberry fruit, ripe succulent tannins and a spicy peppery finish infused with coriander and nutmeg. Very powerful but also very approachable and deliciously drinkable. Excellent. 12% alc. $34.95. 26Jul2006.

Schubert Wairarapa Syrah 2003 Pepper - the signature of syrah is abundant in this wine. There's pepper on the nose and pepper in the rich, juicy palate that's full of dark cherry and black plum fruit. Add to the pepper a hint of sweet chilli, a touch of liquorice, a confetti of musky rose petals, a buttress of savoury French oak and a mattress of velvety tannins and you have one delicious, mouthfilling, robust red wine. And with the acidity that flares on the finish, regard it as a cellaring proposition for the next few years at least. 14% alc. $65. 29Jun2006.

Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Syrah 2003 Black red. Pristine aromas of red and black pepper, violets, rose petals and cherry, the oak is fairly dominant in the palate and the tannins a little grippy but subdued by the explosion of raspberry and cherry fruit with liquorice, spice, tar and leather with a creamy, spicy, slightly charry oak finish. Great potential with a little more age. Diam closure. 13.5% alc. $38. 24Feb2005.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah Viognier 2003 - Hawkes Bay (sc) A deeply coloured shining purple crimson wine that is much fruiter and fresher than last year's rendition, possibly due to the screwcap closure. Aromatic and spicy with an excellent partnership of cherry dominant fruit and vanillin oak. Lifted and nicely balanced with good acidity, not too heavy grainy textured tannins and a bright fruited finish with a lovely array of spices lingering in a moreish way. 13% alc. $25. 20Sep2004.
98% Syrah co-fermented with 2% Viognier, matured in French oak for 15 months. Crimson red with good depth of colour, earthy, leathery, peppery aromas, the palate shows terrific fruit weight - a puree of black cherry, raspberry and blackberry on a creamy texture with silky tannins that have just a little bit of grip on the finish and a spicy aftertaste. There's a nuance of mint and other aromatic herbs as it lingers. Very smart. 13% alc. $25. 12Apr2005.
Cherry red in colour. Freshly cracked white pepper on the nose. Dry and spicy in the palate with plenty of pepper and spices, sweet cherry and red plum fruit building to a sweet succulent, lifted finish. A clean, easy wine, not overly complex. 13% alc. $24.95. 1Jun2005.
A bright, clean, fragrantly spicy aroma with vanilla and a fruit cake richness behind it, and bright, fruit flavours with a touch of musk coming through the orange blossom, plums and cherries with nicely defined peppery spice, velvety tannins, a chocolatey richness emerging as it lingers. A wine that is quite intriguing as it evolves in the palate, with a delicious aftertaste. 13% alc. 10Oct2005.
Deep translucent red. Fragrant crushed pepper and vanilla aromas, smooth silky (slippery) tannins, plum and cherry fruit, creamy vanillin oak and sweet spices. A cool climate, medium-bodied Shiraz with a musky character to the spiced deli meats and pepper finish and a lingering, almost floral, aftertaste. 13% alc. $18.95 special. 2Nov2005.

Trinity Hill Shepherds Croft Shiraz 2003 - Hawkes Bay Deep, intense, blueberry red with crimson rims, abundant aromas of wine-infused multi-coloured crushed peppercorns, a good definition of plummy fruit with brambly berries and fruit cake spices, firm tannins and terrific length with sweet fruit, spices and savoury smoky oak lingering on the dry finish. It is more like a medium-bodied Cote-du-Rhone rather than a full-bodied Cote-Rotie and is ready to drink and enjoy now. 13% alc. $15.95. 16Mar2005.

2002 Vintage [top] [index]

Artisan Oratia 'Fantail Island' Syrah 2002 (Fantail Island is not an island but the name of the vineyard in Auckland). Good depth of purple red colour. Fragrant on the nose, peppery signature of Syrah with chocolate hints and floral (rose) traits. Good depth of flavour, plenty of pepper and spice, blueberry and berry fruits, a touch of mocha / choc and a leathery finish with just a touch of earthiness. A spicy little number that lingers well with sweet vanillin oak. Not an in-your-face style, it will be good with food and OK to quaff as well. 12.7% alc. $34.95. 18Feb2004.

Babich Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 Great inky colour reflective of the year, it's so dark it is almost black with crimson pink (magenta) hues on the rims, very appealing to the eye. Youthful, liquorice, pepper and sweet ripe juicy fruit on the nose, rich and full in the palate, good tannin structure, plenty of flavour concentration, spice, liquorice, concentrated red fruits, rich and delicious with a terrific spicy creamy backbone and a liquorice leathery character that comes through on the finish. Sweet and moreish. Matured in 100% American oak, 20% new. $24.95. 10Sep2003.
Inky purple black colour, peppery aromas, hints of tar and liquorice underlying the creamy berry fruit and deliciously concentrated berry fruit flavours with pepper, liquorice and creamy vanillin oak. A generous wine with a good tannin structure while hints of barnyard and leather give a savoury nuance to the dry finish. 13% alc. $19.95. 23Mar2005.

Bilancia Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 Fantastic blackberry colour, creamy and toasty with a hint of leather, a touch of tar, gripping tannins, and a creamy, pepper, fruitcake spice finish. It's a good wine with lots of potential, just needs some time to unfold. Pre-bottling sample. 21Aug2003.
Intense, opulent purple coloured, purple fruited wine with a berry and pepper nose, and very concentrated fruit flavours. The tannins seem more in check today. 26Aug2003.
As black as they come, a shiny black with purple rims like a ripe blackberry bursting with pristine ripe fruit. Tasting this black beauty I find a beautifully crafted wine, a rich creamy wine with fabulous fruit weight, ripe tannin structure and a lovely profile of peppery spice. Long and persistent in the palate with plums, berries, currants and chocolatey oak, it’s a big wine, built to last and the fine seam of acidity will ensure it does that. 22Feb2004.
As black and inky as they come with shiny crimson-purple hues, it's fragrant and appealing with pepper, spice, concentrated berries and sweet leather on the nose, wonderful fruit structure and weight in the palate with a rich creamy backbone, ripe fruit tannins and chocolatey oak finish, this wine has incredible flavour and length with lingering plums, berries and peppery spice. Outstanding! 14% alc. $33.95. 3Mar2004.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2002 – Hawkes Bay Wonderfully seductive aromas of creamy oak, rose pepper and blackberries lead into this dense black-red coloured thick, rich, mouthfilling, velvety textured wine. Deliciously ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit with wild herb influences to the gamey tarry savouriness and a liqueur-like factor in its delivery across the palate. Beautifully balanced and seamless with an incredible finish and a wonderful chocolate mocha aftertaste. 14% alc. $84.95. 23Feb2005.

Brookfields Hillside Syrah 2002 – Hawkes Bay Deep and dense, purple-black in its colour, it smells a bit like fruit shortcake as it bakes, together with a smoky nuance and a touch of pepper. Fruit driven in the palate with leather, pepper, spices, a touch of tar and some smoky bacon, the tannins are fine and meaty, the palate is long and chocolatey oak lingers. Top dry red of the Sydney International Wine Competition and Best Full-bodied Red. Judged with food the match was Lamb Shanks with Lima Beans. 14% alc. $39.95. 10Mar2004.

CJ Pask Gimblett Rd Syrah 2002 (sc) Magnenta colour. Fragrant, violets, creamy spices on cedar. Very primary at this stage. Quite dry and tannic but powerful fruit underlies the tightness. A medium-bodied wine with red and black fruits, sweet musky overtones and liquorice lingering on the succulent, concentrated fruit finish. There's potential ahead of it once the tannins start to integrate. Matured in new and older 100% French oak. 10Sep2003.
Wonderful colour, a glowing inky purple black, green peppercorns and savoury oak on the nose, slightly sweet juicy mulberry-like fruit with just a touch of citrus in the palate, this is more earthy and leathery with firm tannins and nut chocolate on the lingering dry finish. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 26May2004

Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah 2002 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay Inkily opaque purple black. Chocolate raisins on the smoky nose, a brooding dark bitter chocolate, plums, cherry and lots of sweet oak. There's good acidity that lifts the finish and the wine lingers well. Would not have picked it as NZ syrah at first though finally the pepper comes out to play. Fans of big blockbuster wines are really going to love this. 14.5% alc. 11Feb2004

Craggy Range 'Le Sol' Syrah 2002 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay A big black dense coloured wine with lovely fruit, silky tannins and a dark savoury finish. Aromatic cedar and berries drive the aromas while in the palate it is rich and creamy with voluptuous vanillin oak that is beautifully refined and integrated. The wine shows the spicy character of the grape well and this is enhanced by the tannin structure and the smooth delivery and flow. Leather and tar emerge. A meaty wine, a dark and savoury wine with a full, ripe, lush, spicy finish and blackberry and black cherry lingering on the spicy oak aftertaste. Some chocolate too. A wine that needs time. $70. 24Nov2004.

Dry River Lovat Vineyard Syrah 2002 Inky purple, great youth in the colour, which is dense to the crimson purple rim. Pepper and rose petal with creamy cedary oak on the nose, it’s a little meaty and savoury in the aromatics. Very lifted and bright in the palate, quite zesty, a little spritzy, with dark chocolate richness and creamy oak. There's lifted spices on the finish, where blue fruits linger. A lovely wine, great length and excellent potential. Later I opened a bottle of this wine at home and it showed no spritziness. It had a lovely brightness to the hue and exhibited currant cardamon, nutmeg and rose pepper spices. 13.5% alc. 13Mar2004.

Fromm Reserve Marlborough Syrah 2002 Vibrant pepper and rose petal aromas, this is a beautifully fragrant, fruit-filled peppery Syrah. Black pepper and new leather abound in the palate where there's a lovely tannin structure, they're definitely there but balanced to the opulent fruit. Violets and liquorice fill out the finish. Sensuous, long, dry, awesome. There's 6% Viognier in the blend. 26Aug2002.

Kennedy Point Waiheke Island Syrah 2002 A rose petal fragrance mingles with new wood, leather and peppery spice on the nose with a delicate woody flavour to the juicy, succulent cherry and red berry fruit. Concentrated, creamy and wonderfully structured, it sets the palate up for the terrific explosion of musky spices and the long, dry, spicy finish with hints of red liquorice. A wine of excellent length, it shows the promise for Syrah from Waiheke. Barrel sample. To be bottled in November. $39. 26Sep2003.

Kingsley Estate Syrah 2002 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay (sc) 86% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec. The colour of a shiny blackberry with purple tinges to the rims. Perfumed with spicy oak that is layered with pepper and chocolate while sweet musky purple fruit flavours swallow the rich grape tannins. Beautifully integrated with smoky oak, an underlying succulent juiciness, a mouthfilling, long dry finish and a spicy aftertaste. Very good. 14% alc. $36.95. 13Apr2005.

Matariki Aspire Syrah 2002 A spicy, full-bodied red with strawberry, cherry and juicy black berries. 7Nov2003.
Fantastic inky purple-black that we are becoming accustomed to with youthful NZ Syrah. Lots of fragrant rose pepper on the nose, there's plenty of plumy fruit in the palate, perhaps just a little stewed, and a solid leather and spicy oak backbone. A touch of cigar too. Good length. Not an overly complex style, it is a good intro to NZ Syrah. $19.50. 11Oct2003.
Amazingly youthful purple black with crimson rims, this reeks of black and white pepper, spices, tobacco and vanillin oak. It's oily in the palate with spiced black plums and more earthy savoury notes and asphalt. The texture is creamy and there's lots of oak, it's smooth with a flare of acidity on the finish. Not bad for under $20. 13.5% alc. 7Jan2004.

Matua Valley Matheson Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 A blacky-red coloured medium weight Syrah with hints of sweet coconut oak, crisp spicy peppery fruit, cherries, raspberries and plums, not too heavy, not too light, a soft, slightly savoury, food-friendly wine with a creamy finish. Easy to drink on its own - ready.

Matua Valley Matheson Innovator Syrah 2002 Biscuity oak, blackberries, spice and boot leather dominate the nose of this newly opened black-red coloured savoury meaty wine that fills out with the sweetness of ripe plum and berry fruit and builds up to a massively spicy finish. It's soft and approachable yet there's finely structured tannins in the background. As it develops it becomes rich, creamy and chocolatey with a lovely mouth-coating texture. Beautifully balanced and simply terrific Syrah. 13Oct2003.

Mills Reef Elspeth Syrah 2002 Deep in colour with blackberry hues and smelling slightly peppery with pristine red berries, the aroma gets better and better as the wine opens up in the glass and the sweet American oak component becomes more fragrant. Creamy oak, pepper and liquorice then a warm biscuity bready spiciness characterise the flavour of this velvety textured wine. It has good acidity with bright lifted fruit and a touch of tobacco in amongst the spicy oak and the finish is long and satisfying. *****. 14% alc. $39.95. 30Jun2004.
Big, black and bold. Full of lush vanillin oak characters - youthful oak, ?American oak with underlying hints of mint. The spicy oak fills the palate but the ripe cherry and plum fruit is massive and concentrated, and can handle it. It's a juicy, powerful wine with big gutsy tannins and a spicy note to the tarry finish with a very long, mouthfilling aftertaste of nutmeg, vanilla, mocha, chocolate and sweet plum/cherry fruit, and just a hint of tar. 14% alc. $39.95. 24Nov2004.
A fine textured blackberry hue introduces this outstanding New Zealand syrah that has wonderfully pristine aromatics of black pepper, red berries and vanillin oak. Immediately spicy and peppery in the palate with firm robust tannins equilibrated by voluptuous red fruits that soften the tannins' grippiness and a savoury connotation amongst the liquorice, rose pepper and creamy chocolatey oak that adds a delicious intrigue to the excellent mouthfilling, lingering finish. 14% alc. $40.95. 23Feb2005.

Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 A wine that promises so much with its inky, deep crimson colour, it emits an appealing pepper spice fragrance then in the palate it is rich and mouthfilling with ripe fruit, creamy oak, ripe tannins adding structure and wonderful balance of fruit to oak. I find plums, blueberries, a touch of liquorice, a suggestion of anise and lingering pepper on the savoury finish. A totally delicious wine. 13.5% alc. $34.95. 11May2004.
Deep crimson black with flashes of violet, purple and magenta. Lightly floral aromas with musky rose-pepper spice lead into an intensely flavoured, meaty wine with purple fruits, plums, black cherry, sweet vanillin oak and a long savoury finish. The spicy floral component comes forth on the finish again and lingers with a nuance of herbs de Provence. 13.5% alc. $34.95. 24Nov2004.

Moana Park Vineyard Tribute Syrah 2002 Blackberry and spice characterise this rich, creamy, full-bodied wine that has a touch of mocha, chocolate oak and a lingering cherry flavour with a dark liquorice succulence. There's a touch of leather too and vibrant assortment of white, black and rose pepper on the intense lingering finish. Tbr Nov. Tasted 26Aug2003.

Mudbrick Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah 2002 This is a big Syrah, a rich meaty savoury wine with dark succulent fruit, pepper and herbs with a dark chocolate and black cherry finish. It just needs time to unfold. 26Aug2003. See my Wine of the Week ending 5 October 2003.
A wine made in the vineyard, it's floral with chocolate, spice and anise. Double picked, plunged, 2 weeks post ferment maceration, now chocolate on the nose and later chocolate in the palate, spice galore and lifted fruit, blackberries, florals and spice, it goes will with port-soaked currants in the spiced bratwurst with zucchini and port soaked currants. 13Oct2003.

Murdoch James Martinborough Syrah 2002 Great colour, lots of pepper on the nose, musk, leather and nutmeg (mace) in palate with a hot spicy finish. 13Oct2003.
Deep dark crimson red, a touch of mercurachrome on the nose leads into a savoury wine that is typically syrah with sweet oak, blackberry fruit, peppery spices, a touch of liquorice, dry silky tannins and a long finish. A sophisticated wine, a food wine. 13.2% alc. 26Jul2006.

Newton Forrest Cornerstone Gimblett Road Syrah 2002 (sc) Inky crimson black, exuding aromas of violets, cherries, creamy oak and exotic spices, this delicious, velvety tannined wine is packed with succulent fruit, vanilla, tar, pepper, liquorice, anise and fruitcake spices. Dark and savoury, almost meaty in its complexity with a muskiness to the finish, it is ripe, round and very complete, an outstanding wine with great length, drinking well now it will continue to evolve with cellaring. 14.5% alc. $39.95. 25Aug2004.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2002 Back to the quality of the '00, this creamy, fragrant, floral smelling Syrah is full of lovely ripe fruit, an assortment of pepper, plums, blackberries, just a whiff of leather and sweet vanillin oak. It's ripe and beautifully balanced with a lovely structure and an amazing succulent berry juiciness on finish with just a touch of liquorice. To be released in November. Tasted 26Aug2003

Schubert Wairarapa Syrah 2002 Ruby red of medium to dense intensity with a blackberry glow. Smoky oak over rose pepper-influenced berry fruit then in the palate exotic spices and brushed berry flavours wih sweet vanillin oak overlain with chocolate, and a crispness to the spicy finish. Beautifully balanced throughout and rated very good. 14% alc. $45. 7Feb2005.

Selaks Founders Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 Intense rose pepper on the nose with a lovely sweet fragrance. There's creamy opulent fruit that is beautifully integrated to the oak. It's an 'elegant ' wine with a slightly liquorice tint to the finish. 26Aug2003. See my 'Wine of the Week ending 21Sep2003.
Dense and inky in its brightly hued black-red colour, there's lots of pepper on the nose together with raspberries, blackberries and vanillin oak. It's rather exciting to the taste with a solid oak backbone, peppery spice, earth, leather, blackberry and bitter chocolate then spice, plum, blackberry and creamy vanillin oak lingering on the firm, dry finish. It's just another fantastic NZ Syrah and I highly recommend it. 13.5% alc. 17Sep2003.

Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 Deeply coloured, almost black, with a crimson brightness to its hue. Wonderfully floral aromatics with the peppery signature of Syrah backed up by fabulous berry fruit and tar. Bright fruits, sweet ripe fruits with fantastic concentration, just the slightest hint of leather, honeyed oak and aromatic spices of anise, musk and liquorice, a dry wine with fruit sweetness throughout, it's soft and round wine with wonderful balance and the wine lingers with a fragrant persistence. 13.5% alc. 29Feb2004.
Inky red with lots of depth and richness to the colour and flavour, this has just the right amount of pepper strewn among the violets with a hint of chocolate and deliciously ripe plum and blueberry fruit. A beautifully structured wine with succulent tannins and a long savoury, sweet fruited finish with plenty of richness and power. 20Sep2004.

Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Syrah Viognier 2002 Deep, inky, red black colour, leather tar and black pepper on the nose, creamy oak, raspberry/loganberry and blackberry fruit in the palate. Peppery spices throughout with supple tannins, the earthy finish is lengthened by the wine's acidity. 12Feb2004.
Deep red in colour, quite savoury smelling with black pepper, tar, sheep paddock and 'dried sheep poo' on the nose. Quite complex in its savoury, leathery flavours with good tannin structure, dark plums, blackberries and spicy oak. It seemed quite European to me in comparison to the Aussies. 13.5% alc. $26.95. 10Mar2004.
It still has that leathery, earthy character that I've never liked in this wine and at last winemaker Peter Cowley admits that yes, there is some Brettanomyces present. Other than this, it is earthy, savoury and funky with well defined anise and peppery spices and cherry and raisin fruit, dusty tannins and a rich, savoury, meaty finish. It reminds me a little of a big chunky pinot. 13.5% alc. 10Oct2005.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2002 Red black, almost opaque. Fragrant with bright fruit, gentle oak and fruit spice, almost floral, a little peppery, some savoury herbs, it smells clean, varietal. Concentrated red berry fruits and fragrant spices in the palate with new leather, and a peppery brightness to the creamy finish with perhaps just a hint of 'Black Forest' chocolate. Soft, supple ripe fruit tannins, a meaty nuance and great length. 14.5% alc. 24Feb2004.
996, but far more primary with a hint of rose petal. Rich, lush, opulent flavours with beautifully structured silky tannins, a gorgeous array of anise and peppery spices, a meaty backbone and a long, fruity succulent finish, with lovely varietal definition of pepper and juicy plum and blackberry fruit as it lingers with liquorice coming through to linger on the aftertaste. Rich and concentrated and meaty! 14.5% alc. 10Oct2005.

Trinity Hill Homage Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 Wonderfully bright in its youthful, inky, red black colour that has crimson-purple stained rims, it is overall very tight at the moment but there is no hiding the potential of this intensely concentrated wine. Deep and rich with cherry and other succulent red fruits together with bitter chocolate, spice, rose petal and stonefruits, it builds on the velvety texture of the fine tannins in the palate to a long sustained finish with a character yet seen in only the best Syrah's that NZ has produced. Made as a homage to Gerard Jaboulet in the Rhone, the Syrah was co-fermented with 5% Viognier wine to produce this Cote-Rotie style. The rumour is that it will cost $100 a bottle when it is eventually released. 14% alc. 1Sep2004.
The colour of a ripe blackberry, intense, inky and deep. Showing lovely purity and varietal expression, this is softly aromatic with savoury oak, black pepper, cherry on the nose, firm, slightly leathery tannins, good acidity, black pepper and rose spice. A firmly structured dense, creamy wine with a long spicy finish and a sweet fruit aftertaste, there's good acidity too which will ensure this wine's continued evolution. 14% alc. $105. 24Nov2004.
Very deep inky purple red. Sweet fruit, aniseed and liquorice hints. Big tannins to support the super ripe fruit that's reminiscent of cherries with purple fruit bursts with a lovely herbs de Provence character running through the wine. Quite a meaty style in some respect and hints of leather too. Florals come through o the finish with a cherry softness. Powerful, fragrant and spicy becoming almost chocolatey on the finish. 17 months in new French oak. 14% alc. 6Dec2004.

Vidal Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 (sc) Inky purple black with crimson rims, this is a voluptuously fragrant wine with attractive scents of multi-coloured peppercorns, plums and violets that prepare the palate for the rich flavours ahead. Sweet fruited with lots of grunt, plums, violets, chocolate, pepper, spice, juicy, good tannins and a long flavoursome sweet juicy finish. It's the little brother to the Soler Syrah. 14.5% alc. $26.95. 5May2004.

Vidal Estate ‘Soler’ Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002 (sc) Tobacco on the nose of this fantastically intense, rich, opulent, peppery wine with immense tannins though they are finely attuned to the abundant fruit. Beautiful! But it won't be released until November. 26Aug2003.
Inky in its deep purple-red colour, there’s leather, cracked pepper and smoky exotic spices on the nose, wonderfully sweet spices, juicy plums, black peaches and honey oaked oak in the palate with a creamy texture and smooth, approachable tannins. The creamy vanillin oak seduces with its chocolatey nuances and there’s the subtle spicy peppery muskiness of my Dublin Bay rose on the finish. It’s dry and savoury yet spicy and succulent. It’s just as impressive as impressive can be. 14.8% alc $33.95. AirNZ Gold Medal tasting. 26Nov2003.
Inky red-black. Aromatic, slightly minty with creamy oak and cocoa powder on nose and lots of spices in the palate, it's clean to the taste with cherry, tar, savoury herbs and terrific balance of everything. A beautiful wine with lovely tannin structure and fruit lift on the lingering chocolatey finish. Gold medal ANZWA. 14.8% alc. 11Feb2004
Dark, savoury and peppery with juicy plums and purple fruits and creamy oak. Smooth and long with a rounded pepper and spice finish. 14.8% alc. 1Sep2004.
Very intense deepand inky in colour, almost black. Very fragrant, rose petal, almost soapy floral and spice. Plenty of oak, creamy oak, tarry oak, spicy oak, leathery oak that is beautifully integrated to the soft ripe tannins and the juicy purple fruits that give a lush succulence to the bright flavours and the lifted finish. With lingering spices, black cherry and mocha on the sweet fruit finish, this is a big wine that would fool the Aussies. A delicious, showy wine with wonderful fruit purity, incredible length and tantalising spices that come through on the finish. 14.8% alc. 24Nov2004.

2001 Vintage [top] [index]

Bilancia Syrah 2001 Lovely purple/violet/carmine hues in this medium dense coloured wine. Fragrant, spicy and floral with musk and lavendar, creamy, elegant and beautifully balanced in the mouth. Leather emerges and lingers with nutmeg and dry ripe tannins. 19Aug2002.

Brookfields Hillside Reserve Syrah 2001 (a barrel sample). Lovely deep red colour. Vanillin and white pepper spice aromas. Immense complexity and flavour with spices, herbs and bright berry fruit with cherries and raspberries quite dominant at this stage. Lovely and lifted with a very ripe, creamy and purple-fruited finish together with crisp spices. This will be an absolute stunner when released. Definitely lipsmackingly gorgeous right now. 22Jul2002.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Block 14 Syrah 2001 Inky purple-crimson. Terrific peppery aromatics of mixed colour peppercorns and the leathery smell of pressed red grapeskins on the nose, wonderful fruit weight in the palate - plums, definitely plums with leather and spices - pepper and nutmeg and heaven knows what else - perhaps some dried rosemary, it's a little hot and zesty on the front of the tongue (14% alc), lovely tannin structure, creamy savoury oak backbone and harmonious in its flow from entry to ending with a lingering flavour of liqueur cherries with a hint of red liquorice mingling in with those savoury notes. Persistent and long. 31Oct2003.

CJ Pask Gimblett Rd Hawkes Bay Syrah 2001 Leathery nose, fruity, peppery, smoky oak, fruity upfront but develops well and spicy raspberry notes linger on finish. Soft tannins, savoury finish, creamy texture. White pepper, light red fruits, lifted, floral. Good wine for the price. $25. 7Apr2003.

Dry River Arapoff Syrah 2001 Deep carmine red. Attractive scents - floral, berries, lots of peppery spice. It's very appealing with elegant but meaty oak. Quite youthful in the palate, still very wound up and tight with marmite, yeasty, spicy, creamy, slightly furry tannin - like stroking a cat. The oak is quite dark and dense, not too toasty, just quite delicious. Superbly balanced, this is a v.v. good Syrah and one to watch. Lingers with slightly musky, floral, spicy yet not overstated flavours and lots and lots of white and red pepper spice. $52 on mail order. 16Feb2003.
Crimson purple, bright. Youthful cherry, red currant and blackberry fruit, very tight, a touch (ever so slight) of mint, coffee, nutmeg, a hint of liquorice, firm velvety tannins, crisp fruit, aromatic spices, a fragrant lifted finish, a wine still evolving. The fruit is awesome on the finish with great persistence and length, a floral note in its youth, a touch of liquorice too. Wonderful lift and length. 12% alc. 13Mar2004.

Kennedy Point Waiheke Island 'Vignette' Syrah 2001 Smoked meat aromas. Very fragrant and spicy with lots of clove and ripe berry fruit flavours. There's a hint of apple (acidity) on the nice, full, warm creamy and fragrant finish. It is lighter in colour than the 2001 and shows more pepper in the mouth, but the lovely berry fruit flavours linger well. Not as ripe as the delicious 2000 from this producer. 20Aug2002.

Kingsley Estate Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2001 A vibrantly coloured deep blackcurrant red, this wine reeks of cracked black pepper, leather and succulent berry fruit on the nose. Earthy and spicy with violets and musk, it is also meaty and leathery with tannins quite dominant. The pepper, cherry, raspberry, plum and creamy oak flavours linger. A wine with lovely fruit ripeness and plenty of body and a terrific example. 13.5% alc. $43.95. Screwcap 6Aug2003.

Matariki Hawkes Bay Syrah 2001 Deep black red, flushed with colour and looking quite young, it reveals some age on the nose with mellow oak and subtle fruit but then it contradicts itself again with lots of grunt and power, pepper, allspice, sweet vibrant fruit and a touch of liquorice in the palate. Smooth and long with integrated oak and velvety smooth fine grained tannins imparting a pleasing, rounded, vinous finesse; dried, orange-scented herbs emerge on the finish and cherry and fruit cake spices linger gracefully. 13.5% alc. $28.95. 19Jul2006.

Matariki Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2001 Inky red-black. Savoury smelling with a bouquet garni of herb-driven aromas, lots of vanillin oak and wine berries. There's an abundance of concentrated sweet fruit in the palate fruit characterised by cherry, plum and juicy berries with a strong cedary oak backbone, firm tannins, fruit cake spices and some underlying leather and tar. Has a 'euro' quality, but tasted beside a selection of French wines it could only be from NZ.$40. 24Nov2004.

Mills Reef 'Elspeth' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2001 A deep red wine with French oak aromas and concentrated white pepper and spicy plum fruit. Lots of oak influence in the mouth with charcoal, burnt pencil, sheep poo, tar, leather and old spice, currants, plums and white pepper. The texture is fine and silky and the flavour is long, concentrated and dense. 13.5% alc. $44.95. 4Jun2003. *****

Mudbrick Waiheke Island Syrah 2001 A lightly coloured wine with lots of subtle delicate flavours that hint of cherry. Plenty of pepper spice in the long and flavourful in the palate. Try this with Puhoi Kaipara Blue Cheese - an excellent combo. 20Aug2002.

Okahu Estate Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2001 Youthful coloured red. Savoury, meaty, marmite, herbs, then sweet berry fruits fill the aroma spectrum. There's quite a sense of depth in this wine. Red berries, leather, spicy, it is momentarily Bordeaux-like but with sweeter ripe fruit giving hints to its New World provenance.
Next day: Dense, ripe, upfront red fruits, tobacco and leather. Good tannins that soften as the wine evolves. Velvety sweet fruited finish. Rich meaty flavours linger. 27Apr2003.

Schubert Syrah 2001 A blend of 50% Hawkes Bay and 50% Martinborough fruit, it seems a sweeter style upfront but there is masses and masses of pepper, blueberry and stonefruit, fleshy stone fruits like spiced blackboy peach and plum. A terrifically balanced, well-structured wine with sweet fruit lingering with a lovely peppery spiciness. 26Aug2003.
Inky purple red in colour. Black pepper and woodsmoke on the nose (tho' the BBQ was working at the time), dark and savoury, earthy, milk chocolate coated raisins, plums, smooth and creamy but with a robust tannin structure. Mmm, yum, delicious. This wine got no award in the Air NZ wine awards. I don't understand. Or perhaps I do. 5Dec2003.

Stonecroft Syrah 2001 Tasted at ther release tasting 17Feb2003 - I found this to be a creamy Syrah, but I thought that perhaps it lacked a little in concentration compared to previous efforts. Alan disagreed but said he did have to pick some of the Syrah early - this went into the Crofters V, however. The wine unfolds to reveal an immense robust flavour of plums and spice, so I put my disinterest down to the smell of the venue and the fact the wine followed the powerfully flavoured Ruhanui. Alan gave me the remainder of the bottle to take home.
Now without the distraction of paint, I can smell lots and lots of spice in the wine. It's hot and spicy and floral with cherry scents, warm cuddly oak, violets and herbs, the oak is quite polished and as the wine lingers in the palate the flavour becomes quite meaty and intense, with plums and leather joining the fray. It's definitely a good Syrah, northern Rhonish in style but with the ripe fruit flavours of New Zealand. Try with salami but not with olive or sundried tomatoes. $45 on mail order. 17Feb2003.

Te Awa Farm Longlands Syrah Hawkes Bay 2001 Fragrant vanillin cedar aromas with wafts of spicy fruit. Quite a big weighty, meaty, earthy, creamy wine in the mouth but the emerging fruit is long and succulent. 19Aug2002.

Te Kairanga Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2001 Red black in its dense bright colour this powerful, creamy, oak driven Syrah is spicy, ripe and fruity. Upfront red berry fruits, lots of zingy black peppery spice, finely ground white pepper, tar, balsamic vinegar, a little meaty and very very creamy with charcoal notes, it's full-bodied, grunty and flavoursome with good tannin structure and a zingy lifted finish. Would be great with peppered eye fillet steak cooked rare. $47.95. 19Mar2003.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2001 Deep red, dark and dusky smelling with leather, smoke, bacon, tar, savoury and spice. White pepper influence in the palate with glimpses of blackberry and black cherry, European in style, quite savoury and leathery with a little barnyard. Quite tight at this stage with firm dry tannins though the fruit is there and lingers on the finish with a peppery and savoury herb influence. Good length. As the wine lingers the bursts of juicy purple fruits become more succulent. 13.5% alc. $36.95. 7May2003.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Black Label Syrah 2001 A tight leathery wine, a wine that absolutely needs food. Creamy smelling with liquorice, leather, plum and spice on the nose, it's tightly bound by its tannin structure in the palate. Creamy, peppery oak spice, looking very, very good as it opens up, give it some aeration for the best benefit. 31Oct2003.
Blackberry hued. Yeasty at first on the perfumed nose with musk, tar and a touch of pepper. Sweet and fat in the palate with easy appeal. Blackberry and plum, a savoury spicy peppery character and a lovely creaminess with just a touch of liquorice that comes from the concentrated fruit. Lovely balance of fruit, spice, oak and tannin, a beautifully smooth wine not over the top like most Aussie shirazes are. A class act. There are 7 clones of Syrah in this wine. Some came from Jaboulet where John worked a vintage. 13% alc. $29.95 16Jun2004.
Showing hints of development, this ripe, rounded wine has savoury smoky oak and purple plummy fruit. Good balance throughout. 13% alc. 1Sep2004.

Vidal Estate Soler Syrah 2001 - Hawkes Bay Quite opulent on the nose, there's creamy chocolate galore with a touch of peppery spice, smoke and roasted coffee. There's plenty going on in the palate with nutmeg, white pepper, black pepper, lots and lots of pepper, blackberry and plums. It is very fine in its tannin structure with a lovely integration of French oak and good acidity giving the wine terrific balance. It shows the class of top quality NZ syrah. $33.95. 5Mar2003.

2000 Vintage [top] [index]

Babich Winemakers Reserve Syrah 2000 Showing a little development in its deep red colour, there's leather, pepper, cherry , plum and a hint of chocolate on the nose. Quite mellow, a lighter style though still attractive with vanillin oak, cherry, leather, spice and a touch of earth, it's drinking well now. Cherry chocolate flavours linger. 10Sep2003.

Bilancia Syrah 2000 (Hawkes Bay) Dense purple-red colour. Creamy, spicy aromas. Dry pepper and spice in the mouth with ripe blackberry and a leathery, richly tannic finish with black fleshed peach flavours lingering on the lovely ripe finish. Needs time to mellow. First vintage, with 100% new oak. Just 2 barrels made. 18Sep2001.

CJ Pask Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2000 Lovely sweet ripe fruit with subtle peppery spice on a creamy backbone of berry fruit and spicy oak. Very small quantities made for this first Syrah release and available ex-winery only. 18Sep2001.

Clevedon Hills Syrah 2000 (South Auckland) Intense blackberry with violet hues, it's fruit driven on the nose with chocolate, pepper, brambly and violet scents, a finely textured though well-structured palate with solid tannins, leather, a touch of barnyard and nugget, a sweet berry and plum finish and lingering notes of violets and roses. I imagine this would be a very good food wine. 12% alc. 1200 bottles. 8 month old vines. 25Aug2003.

Crossroads Classic Syrah 2000 Sweet, spicy peppery fruit with creamy vanillin oak and a hint of mint. Soft and balanced and nicely drinkable. 23Aug2001 $23.
Deep purple coloured wine. Really intense pepper on the nose together with barnyard and leathery scents. The pepper is amazingly intense in the mouth too. This is a creamy flavoursome full-bodied shiraz, smooth and rounded with raspberry, plums, peppery spice, and sweet leathery tannins and a full rich flavoursome finish that lasts for an age. Heartily recommended. 23May2000. $20.

Dry River 'Arapoff' Syrah 2000 Deeply coloured with purple hues, a meaty savoury nose with a dash of pepper and an initial hit of raspberry. There's pepper and juicy raspberries in the mouth and a tarry savouriness too, then hints of blueberry, hints of sweet leather and sweet spices with cinnamon. Herbs and viloets emerge and linger withthe pepper spice on the finish. This is an extremely elegant and enjoyable full-bodied wine that is smooth, integrated and seamless. It's very long and flavoursome with all sorts of things going on, on the creamy lifted finish. $49. 25May2002.

Holmes Nelson Shiraz 2000 Well-coloured. Blackberry, raspberry, an earthy richness, creamy oak, firm tannins and a lingering smoky finish with a nice lift of spice. Good wine and a very good accompaniment to porterhouse steak. 2Aug2002.

Kennedy Point Waiheke Island Syrah 2002 Rich and creamy with lovely ripe fruit and fragrance and a hint of stonefruit that is bought about by the 2% of viognier in the wine. Has developed well since last tasted in February. Creamy with subtle pepper, nutmeg and other spices, sweet berry fruit and a lovely meatiness. Very long and elegant with good ripe tannins. Rated as excellent. Perhaps Waiheke Island is the future for Syrah in NZ. 20Aug2002.

Matariki Reserve Syrah 2000 Deep colour - purple black with bright crimson-purple rims. Lovely spicy aromas on warm berries and creamy oak. Very firm, dry spicy tannins, lovely sweet cherry and plum fruit. Big, mouthfilling, bready, soft, well structured and balanced with lovely crisp spice. Good and nice fruit leather complexity from the skins and lovely fruit emerging on the finish. A young wine now looking a safe cellaring proposition. 100% Gimblett Road fruit. 39% new oak. $40. 21Feb2002.
Developing beautifully since last tasted (above) with cedary, tarry, smoky complexities combining with deliciously sweet ripe fruit that wins on the day. Spice, cherries, raspberries, smoke and musk on the nose, sweet musky fruit in the ripe, rounded palate. Leather comes through on the finish and lingers with a spicy glow. A dry, savoury yet very fruity wine with a persistent finish. Very, very good. $29.50. 11Oct2003.

Mills Reef 'Elspeth' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2000 Densely coloured bright crimson/red/black. It's a big leathery, spicy wine that leaves lovely flavours lingering in the mouth long after the wine is swallowed. A biscuity yeastiness, red fruits, plum, spice, cedary French oak, firm sweet tannins and a creamy texture. A very good, rich wine, full and long. 16Nov2001.
Densely purple. Violets and smoky French-like oak on the nose. A touch of oiliness. Structured and powerful with choc, white pepper, plums, meat juices and a rich textural complexity. Sweet, ripe and firm with velvety tannins. A little herbal like Herbs de Provence on roast meat cooked with grapes plus a lovely array of sweet berry fruit lingering with the smoky oak. Magnificent! $40. 27Mar2002.

Mission Gimblett Road Reserve Syrah 2000 Purple red, Raspberry, plums, blackberry and cracked pepper on the nose, it's creamy on the palate with savoury oak, a touch of olive and smoke, firm tannins and a leathery fruit finish with a sweetly fragrant rose petal nuance. Some tar too. Good wine. Nice development. 29Aug2003.

Murdoch James Estate Shiraz 2000 This has the deep colour of a young Shiraz with ruby hues. There's plenty of creamy white pepper and musky spice on the nose and intensely lifted fruit in the palate with mint, spice, creamy red berries, plums and delicious integration of oak. It is big and meaty with plenty of sweet fruit, spice and structure. A very attractive wine with lingering spice. 14.5% alc. $40. 2Oct2001.
Fragrant aroma with a floral nuance. Rich and creamy with spicy oak, a touch of sweet leather, redcurrant and plum fruit, an earthy note and a long sweetish, creamy finish. Very ripe and lifted, this is a good example of the complex structure that this grape can produce. The quality of the vintage shows through. 16Nov2001.

Murdoch James Fraser Vineyard Shiraz 2000 Tasted from a magnum, this has a smoky, dried pepper aroma with a touch of bottle funk and it's dry in the palate with a touch of leather at first. It needs decanting to let the funk dissipate and lots of swirling and a gorgeous big glass helps me speed this up to let the rich, ripe berry fruit show off. There’s even a hint of Black Boy peach in there and a touch of rose petal muskiness that adds a lovely floral tone to the fruit-sweet, creamy finish. It's a dry wine with pepper and Asian spices lingering on the beautifully long, drawn out finish where some attractive earthy notes add to its appeal. 26Jul2006.

Muddy Water Syrah 2000 (Waipara) Lightly coloured, cherry and youthful. Toasty vanillin aromas with a lovely fragrant nuance and delicate but firm spices. 17Sep2001.

Okahu Estate Kaz Shiraz 2000 Sweet, musky, quite fragrant with white pepper, violets and smoky creamy oak. Ripe juicy fruit with some meaty notes emerging on finish. Good wine with good potential. 20Aug2002.

Peninsula Estate Zeno Waiheke Island Syrah 2000 A very ripe tasting Syrah, lots of berries, sweet leather, vanillin French oak and a cherry chocolate complexity, it's ripe and juicy with lingering blackberries. Good!. 13% alc. 26Aug2003.

Pohutu Lodge Syrah 2000 Medium depth red colour, lively red fruits, peppery spice, firm tannins and lingering creamy vanillin oak. A blend of Gisborne and Te Araroa grapes made by Brenda Ramage of Te Araroa. 8 Mar2003.

Schubert Hawkes Bay Syrah 2000 This is quite an intensely flavoured syrah - quite creamy and full-bodied with pepper, crisp raspberry spices and very rich tannins. Would benefit from cellaring. 20Aug2002.
Deep blackberry in colour with ripe jammy fruit, lots of peppery spice, ripe tarry tannins, creamy oak and a long mouthfilling finish. $45. 22 Feb2003.

Stonecroft Crofters Syrah 2000 An oily nose at first, then floral aromatics and peppery spice. Sweet crackling berry fruit - cherryish in the dry spicy palate with firm tannins and spicy cool climate Syrah character. Creamy texture. Good length with lingering flavours of blue and blackberry and a touch of olive. Good wine for the price. Alan explains the pricing structure. The syrah grapes from the 2000 vintage did not have the weight and concentration for the flagship Stonecroft Syrah - there had been too much fruit on vine and the crop was not thinned enough. With the good growing season they took in more fruit than expected as the bunch weights were high. Not wanting to make a middle tier price wine, the grapes were destined to the Crofters label - hence this wine is really an exceptional NZ syrah for the price. $19. 16Feb2002.

Te Awa Farm Longlands Syrah 2000 (Hawkes Bay). Purple red. Quite subtle at first in the mouth. Creamy, peppery fruit, pretty ripe with plum and toasty integrated oak. Crisp spice on the finish. Very nice and slips down quite easily. 17Sep2001.
Fragrant vanillin cedar aromas with wafts of spicy fruit. Quite a big weighty, meaty, earthy, creamy wine in the mouth but the emerging fruit is long and succulent. 19Aug2002.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2000 Good dense red colour with raspberry rims. White pepper spice and meaty aromas then very smooth and creamy when first in the mouth. It's a little cedary with lovely cherry and plum fruit hinting to blackberry with ripe firm fruit tannins and hints of savoury meat. But the peppery spice is the highlight of this wine. And it's just so creamy. Yum. The finish is very, very long and that lovely spice character lingers with the fragrance of old rose. I'd like to try this with a slice of aromatic salami wrapped around some soft cheese. A single vineyard wine. 13.0% alcohol. ~NZ$37-40. 26Mar2002.
Deep, deep red. Fragrant, a little musky, spicy, cedary. Quite crisp with cracked berry fruit, herbs, lavender, spice. Lifted and fragrant with still youthful, biscuity tannins and a leathery note to the smoky finish. Very primary with lovely weight and elegance. 13% alc. 10Oct2005.

Trinity Hill Black Label Gimblett Road Syrah 2000 Creamy berry aromas with a myriad of fruit fragrances from strawberries through to blackberries. Creamy in the palate too with fruitcake spice and forward juicy fruit over an earthy integrated spicy oak layer and a lifted fruit acidity on the medium to firm tannin finish. Raspberry flavours linger. Very good indeed. $34.95. 6May2002.
Medium dense colour. Peppery aromas with a rosy fragrance. Beautifully structured creamy wine with sweet leather, pepper and exotic spices. Finishes with a lifted fragrance and floral notes linger with the spicy berry flavours. 19Aug2002.
Quite a bright but dense red colour with purple-black hues. Macerated fruit aromas a little like fruitcake with maraschino cherry and spiced blackberries, a dash of black pepper and the slightest hint of rose petal musk. The oaky scents smell quite creamy. There's a spicy character upfront in the mouth with crisp black pepper and firm ripe tannins. The fruit is like blackberries straight of the vine, crisp but sweet with just a little tinge of acidity but with a long underlying flavour. There's a dense layer of meaty oak as well. This is a flavoursome wine just waiting to unfold. There's a floral (rose petal? carnation?) character that lingers on the firm spicy, savoury and creamy finish. 14Dec2002.

1999 Vintage [top] [index]

Crossroads Classic Syrah 1999 Dark red colour with blackberry red rims. Good pepper aromas and pepper continues into the palate along with sweet spices. Dry, woody oak and blackberry, plum and raspberry fruit. Medium weight. Lingers well. 6 Jul 2001

Dry River Arapoff Syrah 1999 Good depth of colour with a crimson-rose hue to the meniscus. Attractive aromas of pepper, violet and cherry prepare for the taste that follows. There's rich peppery spice in the palate, then a burst of floral and a sweet fruit with savoury herbs. A meaty richness in an elegant kind of way combines with juicy citrus and stone fruits followed by the richness of Christmas cake fruits. Classy oak integrates well with the round flavours and firm tannins and the lingering aftertaste is of peppery spice. ($43.00). 18Mar2001.

Karaka Point Vineyard Shiraz 1999 Developed in colour and flavour with pepper spices, there's some sweeter Aussie-style traits with chocolate, mocha and cinnamon. Charry oak lingers on the finish. Seems to lack somewhat in fruit 21Aug2003.

Matakana Estate Syrah 1999 Deep crimson red and exuding fragrant aromas of pepper, cinnamon, cloves and sweet cherry fruit. A burst of freshly cracked black pepper in the mouth along with sweet cherry, plum and wild blackberry, smoky oak, meaty tannins, a hint of olive, dried roses and a dry finish with a creamy aftertaste. Sweet fruit lingers. About $30 ex-winery. May2001.

Matariki Gimblett Rd Syrah 1999 Dense red with bright crimson rims. Smoky and peppery, with a creamy nuance. Pepper and creamy spice, touch of boot polish, ripe plum and raspberry. Nice depth. A menthol leathery nuance that lingers with the fruit. $30. 6Feb2002.

Matariki Syrah 1999 ($29.95) Gorgeous, light carmine red colour. Chocolaty aromas. Lots of peppers in the palate - white, black, red and green crushed peppercorn. Fruits of cherries, plums and blackberries combine to make a fruit-filled spicy drop. Dry tannins. Very fruity with a touch of soapy citrus (acidity) lingering on the finish. OK for an NZ Syrah. FG 14Oct2000.
Another tasting - Perfumed floral with a creamy spicy berry nose, Sweet ripe peppery fruit with a silky, almost velvety texture. 3 bottles tried. A fair amount of bottle variation. First bottle corked. 2nd bottle the best which I used for these notes. 7 Mar 2001

Mills Reef 'Elspeth' Reserve Syrah 1999 Deep rich violet red colour. Aromas that exude freshly cracked pepper. It's warming in the palate with at first the flavour of smooth vanillin oak alongside firm dry tannins. Then, about a minute after has the wine been swallowed and the saliva starts working on the tannin residue in the mouth, the fruit starts to appear as a sweet flirtation. On the next sip the mouth is ready and the fruit is there in full frontal mode - sweet ripe raspberry, blueberry and strawberry with a touch of tar and roses. As the mouth gets used to the tannin the flavour is sweet and creamy with crackling spice and good acid balance. This youthful wine has excellent potential. NZ$32.50 ex-winery. June 2001

Peninsula Estate 'Gilmour' Syrah 99
Not as good as the 98 but good lifted fruit with dry berries, plums and spice. Silky texture that floats nicely across palate. Nicely integrated vanillin oak, medium palate weight soft tannins and a sweet berry lingering finish. Has potential. $39.95. 21Jan2002.

Sanderson Syrah 1999 Fragrant, cedary, spicy wine with ripe baked plum. Fruity and drinking well now. Integrated tannins and exotic spices linger. 19Aug2002.

Stonecroft Syrah 1999 Pepper leaps out on the plummy nose on this deep red, beautifully structured, wine. Soft and creamy, heading towards a velvety texture. There's a lovely ripe taste of red berries and plums and a nuance of roses with the spice of carnations. Subtle tannins with creamy oak emerge on the finish. Classy wine. 30% new oak. About $45.00 ex-vineyard. 26Feb2001

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 1999 (Hawkes Bay ). Creamy chocolate and appealing vanilla. Minty, yeasty, full, rich. Bloody good. Very ripe. 24 Jan 2001

1998 Vintage [top] [index]

Matariki Syrah 1998 (Hawkes Bay, NZ). Good colour. Nice spicy berry fruit and smooth ripe fruit, bready berry tannins and pleasing ripe length. One of the best examples of New Zealand Syrah that I have ever tasted. 19/2/2000.

Morton Estate White Label Hawkes Bay Syrah 1998 (about $17.95) is one of the best value New Zealand examples of this grape variety. Brightly coloured red with an attractive aroma that hints of raisins; it is creamy in texture with plum, spice and aniseed savouriness merging in well with the vanilla smokiness of American oak. Ripe fruit flavours and soft tannins make the wine immediately approachable. ***** March 2001

Okahu Estate Kaz Shiraz 1998 (Northland) Deep ruby red, closed on the nose with just some hints of leather and berries but anything lacking on the nose was made up for in taste. Plenty of mouthfilling sweet ripe fruit tasting of cherries, raspberries, black fleshed plums and blackberries, accompanied by a floral bouquet of violets and black and raspberry red peppercorn spice. Warm, round, full and textural with quality French oak loitering in the background adding structure and flavour but letting the fruit dominate throughout. There's a moment of tingling acidity, vaguely reminiscent of orange citrus then the wine finishes dry and mellow and chocolate emerges, together with liquorice and the merest hint of tar, to linger around for quite a while. This is a classy wine and while it is deliciously approachable in its youth, I firmly recorked the bottle after the second pour so I could try some more the following day. I found the chocolate oak, leather and liquorice were more enhanced with the potpourri of berries, cherries, plums, raspberries and blackberries quite well integrated. $50 ex-winery. WOTW 29Oct2000.

Peninsula Estate Syrah 1998 shows the variety well with peppery spice and well-balanced bright fruit flavours of cherry, red berry and plum. There's floral nuances and a good tannin structure. I was impressed in this, the 4th vintage of Syrah and retails for about $35. Aged in predominantly 2-year old oak and just 8 barrels were made. Feb2001.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 1998 A deep colour of intense young purple. Attractive aromas of roses, currants and subtle oak. No real spicy notes, or perhaps just a hint. Port-like flavours in the palate from the very rich, very ripe fruit. Where are the tannins? - the wine is just so ripe and smooth. It is very fruity with flavours of blackberry, raspberry and red plums. Smooth and creamy on the finish and emitting some licorice-like complexities. 7Mar2000.
Deep garnet coloured with good density, aromas of spicy mellowed oak with a hint of old rose and a delicate infusion of bouquet garni. There's a richness to the flavour and texture with a hint of mint, plummy fruit, meaty oak, nutmeg and hints of Asian spices with only a suggestion of pepper that becomes more obvious on the spicy, leathery finish. Very long, very tasty and hanging in well. Very good. 13.5% alc. 10Oct2005.

Older Vintages [top] [index]

Dry River Martinborough Syrah 1997
This is Dry River's first release of a Syrah, and it's a very good wine, indeed. The colour is a bright, black cherry on the rim with a red-black (ruby coloured) centre. The aroma is floral and in the palate the flavour is of peppery, powerful, spicy berry fruit with layers of chocolates. Soft, yet powerful. The wine finishes dry with excellent length, floral persistence and hints of spice. $33. WOTW 28Mar1999.

Fromm La Strada Syrah 1997 Stinky, earthy, thick & tarry, faulty. grubby. Where is the fruit? There is none but some rosehip notes emerging. 24 Jan 2001

Stonecroft Syrah 1989 90% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the latter part of the blend because it was needed to top off the one barrel of this wine. Made in the era when 'big is better' so had lots of extraction. A fragrant wine, though well into its secondary phase and without any distinct Syrah varietal definition. Smooth and creamy in the palate, lots of leather, then a sweet core of fruit, good tannins still and a long finish. From Alan Limmer's cellar. 29Feb2004.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 1996 Fading in its tawny-red colour, this has an intriguing aroma that changes every time I smell it but the dominant scents are floral with oily herbs. The flavours are meaty, earthy and spicy with grippy, grainy tannins and a burst of chocolate on the tarry, savoury finish. It has a lovely fine structure and although not easily discernible as Syrah, it is a warm, ripe and very drinkable wine. 13.5% alc. 10Oct2005.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 1992 Tawny hues and mellow cedary aromas with no discernible fruit or spice, though there's a vinous sweetness to the fragrance. In the palate there's an appealing macerated cherry flavour with a hint of liquorice, mellow oak, orange zest on the finish and a mellow cedary earthy character as it lingers. The tannins are smooth and integrated. 12.5% alc. 10Oct2005.

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Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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