Gimblett Gravels rock
I worry that sometimes I repeat myself on this blog. One of the themes I might have talked a bit too much about is New Zealand reds, but they're consistently good. I'm especially taken by the reds from the Gimblett Gravels, a unique 'terroir' in the Hawkes Bay region. Detractors say that viticulture in the gravels is essentially hydroponics, but this is the one place in NZ that seems to be able to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon reliably. Tonight's wine is a stylish, fresh, intense Bordeaux-style blend with lovely expressive character from one of the most reliable wineries out there.
Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Fresh blackcurrant and plum fruit dominates here, with a savoury, gravelly, spicy tannic structure providing a nice foil. It shows high acidity, and there's an almost floral perfumed character to nose. I don't think you'd mistake this for Bordeaux (and I don't think this was the intention of the winemaker), but there's a freshness and precision to this wine that is often missing in new world reds. Quite primary now; I reckon this will develop well over the next decade, although I'm slightly concerned that the high acidity might stick out a bit if the fruit recedes. 91/100 (£15.99 Hailsham Cellars, D Byrne, Peake Wine, nzhouseofwine.co.uk)