Part 14: Trinity Hill, Hawkes Bay
2396 State Highway 50, RD 5, Hastings, New Zealand
The final stop of the day in my Hawkes Bay itinerary
was Trinity Hill. Already, the sun was beginning to dip, and the
imposing winery was casting angular shadows. I met with owner John
Hancock and winemaker Warren Gibson, and tasted through a broad
range with them in a relaxed, end-of-day atmosphere.
Trinity Hill is actually a three-way partnership
between John, Robert and Robyn Wilson, and Trevor and Hanne James.
They bought their first vineyard – 20 hectares of Gimblett
Gravells – in 1993, and the first wines were made in 1996. The
winery was built in 1997, and a further 20 hectares of the gravels
were purchased in 2000. Currently, 600 tons (35 000) cases are
made, but this is expected to rise.
Hancock (left) and Warren Gibson
John has some interesting things to say about the
Gimblett Gravels, which I’ve talked about a lot here in this
series. ‘The Gimblett Gravels is not homogeneous by any stretch
of the imagination’, he says. ‘It’s variable, with different
levels of silt and alluvial materials. You can’t avoid the
variation because of the way the braiding works in the rivers’.
So what are the implications for the vineyard? ‘The areas with
more silt can be more vigorous. The way we deal with this is
composting, but it will take forever to deal with it. Organic
matter is a makor issue’. The way organic matter is added back
is with a compost made of chicken manure and grapeskins. ‘It’s
very expensive’, says John, ‘and you have to do it for 50
years before you get the benefit: it works its way down’.
The Trinity Hill wines really impress. [Is New Zealand
the world’s most consistent wine-producing nation? The wines all
seem to be pretty good.] In particular, the Homage Syrah is a real
stand-out – one of New Zealand’s top reds.
Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Hawkes Bay
Making up one-quarter to half of Trinity Hill’s annual
production, this is a fresh, bright, fruity Sauvignon with real
precision. A food-friendly style that’s mouthwateringly fresh.
2007 Hawkes Bay
This is a glimpse of what is intended to be a new joint
venture with Pascal Jolivet (Sancerre), and it was made by a
colleague of Pascal who was doing vintage here. Natural ferments,
working with higher solids and extended lees ageing were used.
Lovely tight aromatic minerally nose with a strong herbal
component. The palate is restrained and quite complex with a
chalky minerality and nice precision. Savoury with high acidity.
Hill Viognier 2006 Gimblett Gravels
A fresh, herby, aromatic style of Viognier. The palate is ripe
and full but with some herbiness, along with pear and grape
fruitiness. Nicely textured and food compatible. 88/100
Hill Pinot Noir 2006 Hawkes Bay
A blend from three different sites. Fresh, bright focused
cherry and berry fruit dominate with a subtle earthy, forest floor
character. Supple and expressive, this is a nice Pinot that’s
under NZ$20, which makes it good value. 90/100
Hill High Country Pinot Noir 2006 Hawkes Bay
Aromatic nose is fresh and supple with a bit of spice
alongside the berry and dark cherry fruits. The palate is
expressive and rounded with lovely purity of supple red fruits,
together with some earthy spicy notes. ‘We try to keep a savoury
style to the wines’, explains Warren Gibson. ‘The style is
savoury with dry tannins for ageability’. 92/100
Hill Shiraz (White Label) 2006 Gimblett Gravels
Supple expressive dark fruits nose with a really elegant white
pepper freshness. The palate has smooth elegant dark fruits with
some nice pepperiness. Very accessible and drinkable. 90/100
Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2006
Aromatic fresh dark fruits on the nose, complemented by notes
of grilled meat, spice and pepper. Smooth with some floral notes.
The palate is dense and full with nice fresh fruit and lovely
taut, spicy structure. There’s a bit of oak evident, too. This
is currently tight-wound, waiting to emerge. Delicious stuff in a
savoury style. 93/100
Hill Homage Syrah 2006 Gimblett Gravels
Deep coloured. Thrillingly intense nose is dark, meaty, spicy,
peppery and brooding. Hard to describe all the aromas. The palate
is intense, concentrated and tight with lovely freshness and pure,
dark, spicy fruit, backed up by huge tannins. Delicious now, but
just a baby, made in a wonderful Rhôney style with freshness and
Hill Homage Syrah 2004 Gimblett Gravels
Wonderfully sweet, dark, open nose with warm, spicy fruit. The
palate is broad and full with dense, warm, sweet fruit. It’s
delicious and open, but there’s perhaps a slightly unusual sweet
confected character to the fruit on this showing that stops it
reaching the levels of the 2006. Still, a very good wine. 92/100
Hill ‘The Gimblett’ 2005 Gimblett Gravels
A Merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend showing a lovely blackberry
and blackcurrant fruit nose – fresh and pure with a nice savoury
edge. The palate shows more pure, intense fruit with savoury
complexity. Youthful, with grippy tannins. Beautifully structured.
Hill Tempranillo 2006 Gimblett Gravels
Full, bright red fruits nose is quite pure. The palate is
juicy and fresh with nice red fruit character. Vibrant,
well-defined and fresh with a spicy finish. A primary sort of wine
where fruit purity is the key.
Wines tasted 11/07
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