A case of 2015 reds from the Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Each year, the Gimblett Gravels association – a group in charge of a special terroir in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand – makes a selection of 12 top reds. This is the 2015 edition, the latest, and it was selected by Andrew Caillard MW. These are my notes on the wines. Some I was really impressed with; others may be a little less. All were solidly good though.

Te Awa Single Estate Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol
This is a seductive, sweetly fruited wine with a whack of sweet vanilla oak adding a creamy, cedary edge to the supple, smooth cherry and plum fruit. It’s a very appealing wine with a softness to it, but there’s also a twist of bitterness on the finish, and the oak needs a while to settle down. 88/100

Stonecroft Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Slightly gravelly, savoury edge to the midweight blackcurrant fruit with some grippy tannins and a slight dustiness. This is supple and well balanced, but it feels slightly muted. With its tannic structure, this could be a good bet for a medium-term ager. 89/100

Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2015 Gimblett Gravels, New Zealand
Minimal handling and 16 months in French oak. Gravelly, peppery and savoury with some clove and black pepper framing to the meaty berry and cherry fruits. On the finish this is structured and grippy with nice focus to the black fruits, and hints of liquorice and anise. Concentrated but restrained and savoury, and quite focused and balanced. 92/100

Trinity Hill Syrah 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Fresh, vivid and peppery on the nose: more white pepper than black. The palate is midweight and supple, fresh and peppery, with fresh red and black cherry and blueberry notes. Nicely proportioned, fresh and beautifully balanced with vivid black fruits. Polished and appealing but with a subtly wild edge, too. This has a sense of elegance to it. Finishes dry and grippy but not austere. 93/100

Mission Estate Cabernet Merlot Barrique Reserve 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 18 months in barrel. This is ripe but with a gravelly, spicy depth to it, combining savoury, mineral, tarry notes alongside sweet blackcurrant fruit. It’s got a spicy lift, with some sour damson notes, but also some good structure and density. Quite old world in style, but with some sweet fruit too. 91/100

Ka Tahi Rangatira Reserve Syrah 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13.4% alcohol. This is a joint project between the Leadbetter, Bearsley and Karl families, who are farmers in Hawke’s bay, together with winemaker Rod Macdonald. It’s a really assured, well balanced wine that was unlucky just to get a bronze medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. It’s a beautifully ripe, textured Syrah that doesn’t show any of the angular clove and pepper notes that can dominate this variety in Hawke’s Bay. Instead, there’s a lush black cherry and blackberry core, with a slight saltiness and subtle pepper characters. Nice precision here, with lovely balance. This has harmony, and it’s drinking really well now. 93/100

Babich The Patriarch 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 22% Malbec. 13.5% alcohol. Fresh, pure and balanced with a savoury, gravelly edge to the bright black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Youthful and quite primary with some grainy tannic structure. Has a firmness and a sense of restraint. Should age really nicely, putting on some weight in the process. 92/100

Sacred Hill Brokenstone 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. A blend of Merlot/Malbec/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc aged for 18 months in French oak. This is seamless and textured with bold, ripe, smooth blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Shows lovely weight and balance, with nice fruit sweetness, but there’s just a hint of musty cork taint in the background, so I can’t rate it. Without the taint, this would be lovely

Craggy Range Le Sol 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Deeply coloured, this has beautiful floral aromas of sweet black cherries, violet and spice. There’s a touch of black pepper with some fine herbs and just a touch of olive and clove savouriness. The palate is ripe and sweetly fruited, but also fresh and well defined. The silky fruit is quite polished, but not overly so. Seductive and concentrated, this is a sophisticated, ripe expression of cool climate Syrah. It’s drinking beautifully now, and will continue to develop over the next few years. Lovely complexity here, blending sweet and savoury elements very nicely. Touching on profundity. 94/100

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Deeply coloured. Concentrated and intense with focused sweet blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. This is quite tight and compact, and not fully integrated yet: there’s some sweet lush fruit but also a strongly savoury, spicy, woody edge. Has lovely purity but also needs some time to come together. 90/100

Babich Irongate Cabernet Merlot Franc 2015 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. This is a beautiful, well-proportioned wine in an old-world mould. It has a fresh, quite floral nose of sweet blackcurrant fruit with a subtly chalky, gravelly twist. The palate is mid-weight and taut with fresh, sappy-edged blackcurrant and cherry fruit, together with appropriate structure and acidity. There’s ample concentration here, but also delicacy and freshness, and it has no rough edges. 93/100

Vidal Reserve Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13% alcohol. This is fresh, focused and gravelly with a nice savoury, refreshing edge to the black cherry and blackberry fruit. It’s a bit peppery and also quite grainy: there’s some ripeness to the fruit, but no plushness. This is tight and focused, showing good concentration, but also some savoury clove and pepper notes, and tight tannins. It’s an impressive effort, if a bit angular at the moment. Will be interesting to watch it develop over the next few years: will it put some weight on? 93/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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