Matt Kirby is an Aussie winemaker who previously worked in the Clare Valley. But he migrated to New Zealand is now the winemaker at Clearview Estate in Hawke’s Bay. His first vintage was 2015. I visited with him on a beautiful spring Hawke’s Bay day.
Clearview was established by Tim Turvey and is based in the Te Awanga sub region on the coast. Here it’s 5 C cooler than the Gimblett Gravels, the warmest sub-region in Hawke’s Bay, and this climatic freshness shows up in the wines. For example, with Chardonnay they get very good acidity even when the grapes are pretty ripe: a typical analysis would be 10 g/litre TA at 23.5 Brix, so there’s no need ever to acidify.
Altogether, Clearview have 50 hectares of vines owned and contracted. We drove around, checking some of them out.
One stop was at a premium red block owned by a grower who’s an ex-Google executive.
Then we looked at Cleaview’s premium Chardonnay block. Here, they are renewing the vines to offset trunk disease by growing up water shoots and retraining them to be new trunks, then cutting off the disease affected older trunks. It’s an efficient way of renewing the vines, because it maintains the root system.
The wines here are very fine, and fly under the radar a bit, in part because the focus is almost entirely on the domestic market. They are worth checking out: Matt is doing a good job here.
Clearview Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Barrique Fermented 2018
Barrel fermented in old oak from the Cape Crest vineyard. Took the lease over from Te Mata five or six years ago. Delicate with sweet citrus and pear fruit. Has some subtle nut and toast hints, but the main theme is pure fruit. Delicate style. 89/100
Clearview Estate Beachhead Chardonnay 2016
Barrel fermented mostly in 2-3 year old barriques. Fine toasty, spicy, nutty nose with refined pear and peach fruit. The palate is soft and textural, showing some nice oak and a lovely spiciness, with high acidity. Very linear, holding the ripe peach fruit in check. 92/100
Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2015
40% new oak here. Refined, fresh and vital with rich pear and peach fruit supported by a lean citrus core. Very stylish and beginning to develop some toast and bread secondary characters. Lovely acidity here. Ripe but refined. 93/100
Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2017
The worst vintage Hawke’s Bay has ever had. 22% new oak. Fresh, vital and toasty with a hint of reduction. There’s a nice lightness here: it won’t age but it has freshness and precision. The vineyard was hand-picked four times in order to make this wine, and the result is pretty good. Toasty, spicy finish. 92/100
Clearview Estate Endeavour Chardonnay 2015
Selling at $175 this is the most expensive New Zealand Chardonnay. In new puncheons for 19 months, unsulfured. Complex, refined and nicely spicy with minerals and spice. There’s a lovely concentration and a hint of mint with subtle oak influence, which is more cedary and spicy rather than toasty. This is from a special, low yielding part of the reserve Chardonnay block, with very small berries. This has real precision and focus to it, and needs time to show its best. Great acidity. 94/100
Clearview Estate Reserve Syrah 2016
Made with 100% whole bunch (the acid was 9 g/l and so the stems were used to bring this down a bit; use the CO2 from a white ferment to protect the cap). This is a lovely fruit-driven red with smooth raspberry and red cherry fruit, with some lusciousness and fine hints of pepper. It’s fleshy and generous, and doesn’t show the whole bunch character at all. Stylish and quite seductive. 92/100
Clearview Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc 2015
Bright and quite peppery with lovely sweet, focused black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Big but light at the same time. Some spicy oak in the background. Very stylish expression of Cabernet Franc with lovely poised, sweet fruit. 92/100
Clearview Estate Old Olive Block 2016
Some fruit from the Gimblett Gravels and some from here. Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Supple and bright with lovely gravelly fruit. Blackcurrant, raspberry and black cherry with nice structure and acidity. Grippy and delicious. Ripe but not blown out. 94/100
Clearview Estate Basket Press 2016 (unreleased)
Bordeaux-style blend: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 40% Merlot, 100% new oak. Concentrated, refined and structured with fresh but intense blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Very finely structured: tannic but fine-grained with a nice mouthfeel. Soaks up the oak beautifully. It’s not a blockbuster, but it has intensity and refinement. 95/100
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com
- Tony Bish and The Urban Winery
- Ant Mackenzie, Craft Farm
- Ash Ridge
- Collaboration Wines
- Sileni and their Pinot Noirs
- Clearview Estate
- De La Terre
- Trinity Hill