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Tasting Reviews

Church Road 2016 Rosé and Chardonnay, and 2015 Syrah

The Church Road winery in Taradale is one of New Zealand’s historic icons. The site of the winery and vineyard dates back to Bartholomew Steinmetz in 1897, and its story includes ownership by the legendary Tom McDonald. The modern history began in 1989 with acquisition and ownership by Montana and the first releases of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the 1990 vintage. Corporate changes now see Pernod-Ricard as proprietors; but continuing the production seamlessly. Chris Scott has been in the winemaking role since 2003, and Hawke’s Bay veteran Graham Bartleet oversees the viticulture. The wines are exemplary Hawke’s Bay expressions from the accessible ‘Church Road’ range to the ultra-premium ‘TOM’ wines. Here, I review three of the ‘entry level’ Church Road wines, these being the 2016 Rosé and Chardonnay, and 2015 Syrah. The wines are modern with contemporary style and detail.

Church Road Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016
Bright, light, cerise-pink with some depth and youthful purple hues, lighter on the rim. This has an elegantly presented, fresh nose with aromas of raspberries and redcurrants along with fragrant red florals and subtle thirst-quenching mineral elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has bright and vibrant flavours of raspberry and redcurrant fruit with a subtle layering of red florals and cherry confectionary. The mouthfeel is crisp and mouthwatering from lacy acidity and the wine flow with good energy along a very fine-textured line, leading to a light, zesty finish. This is a bright and aromatic dryish rosé with flavours of raspberries and redcurrants, and nuances of confectionary on a gently mouthwatering palate. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian fare over the next 2 years. A blend of 86% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 5% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 91% from the Bridge Pa Triangle and 9% Gimblett Gravels, a portion from saignee, cool-fermented in tank to 13.0% alc. and 8 g/L RS. 18.0-/20 Jan 2017 RRP $19.95

Church Road Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Bright straw-yellow colour with pale lemon-gold hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is gently concentrated and packed with aromas of fresh white and yellow stonefruits, interwoven with citrus and tropical fruit elements, melded with complexing flinty, minerally reduction, revealing nuances of creamy and nutty oak. Medium-bodied, the palate features a well-proportioned and concentrated core of white and yellow stonefruits with citrus fruit detail, entwined with flint and mineral complexities. The fruit has mealy notes and combine with nutty oak, and is enlivened by fresh, bright acidity. The wine flows smoothly with positive linearity, leading to a dry, taut lingering finish. This is a finely concentrated, refreshing Chardonnay with complex stonefruit, citrus, flint and nutty flavours. Serve with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 4+ years 63% clone 15, 27% clone 95 and 10% Mendoza, from the Tuki Tuki Valley, Crownthorpe Terraces, Omaranui and Bridge Pa Triangle, fully barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 6 months in 30% new Hungarian and French oak, undergoing batonnage and MLF. 18.0+/20 Jan 2017 RRP $19.95

Church Road Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Full, very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour. The nose is full and softly packed with sweetly ripe aromas of blackberry fruit with soft nuances of black plums and liquorice, along with black pepper, spices and violet florals, lifted by oak elements. Medium-bodied, the palate possesses rich and sweet flavours of ripe blackberries and plums entwined with spices, liquorice, black and white pepper and dark florals. The fruit is balanced by fine-grained tannin structure and fresh acidity providing energy and liveliness. The wine carries with good tension and linearity to an elegant, lingering finish of blackberries, plums and pepper. This is a lively and fresh, sweet-fruited Syrah with blackberry, plum, liquorice and floral flavours with balanced tannin grip. Match with barbecued and grilled red meats and Mediterranean fare over the next 4+ years. Clones 470, MS and Chave, 70% from the Bridge Pa Triangle and 30% from the Gimblett Gravels, the fruit destemmed and fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine on skins for 3-4 weeks, and aged 18 months in 25% new French and Hungarian oak including barriques and cuves. 17.5/20 Jan 2017 RRP $19.95

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