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Featured Reviews




Ash Ridge ‘Estate’, ‘Premium’, and ‘Hills & Rivers’ Releases

18 May,2017
Ash Ridge Wines is the Bridge Pa, Hawke’s Bay wine venture of Chris and Sonya Wilcox who operate a winery and cellar door at their home ‘Cardoness’ vineyard on S.H. 50 near the junction of Ngatarawa Road. They also have their ‘Peet’ vineyard nearby, and draw contact fruit to make a broad range of well-defined wines, from the ‘Estate’ and ‘Premium’ bottlings to the limited release ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ wines. They have as a junior label, the ‘Hills & Rivers’ wines which are made in a more accessible style which showcases varietal and Hawke’s Bay regional character. Lauren Swift id the Ash Ridge winemaker, and the wines have been earning increasing critical acclaim. Here, I review a selection of new release ‘Hills & Rivers’, ‘Estate’ and ‘Premium’ wines. www.ashridgewines.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Hills & Rivers Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2016

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

16.5/20
Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues and some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full with subtly fragrant aromas of white and yellow stonefruits, along with floral nuances and suggestions of honeysuckle and nutty lees elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has fresh, bright flavours of white and yellow stonefruits entwined with subtle floral notes and hint of honeysuckle and nuts. The palate has light, grainy phenolic textures and is enlivened by brisk acidity. The wine caries with good energy and grip to a dry, floral finish. This is a fresh, bright, stonefruited dry Pinot Gris with some grip and brisk acidity. Serve with most white meat dishes over the next 2+ years. Fruit from Maraekakaho, fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 7 g/L RS, the wine aged 6 months on lees with batonnage. 16.5/20 May 2017 RRP $16.00

Hills & Rivers Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2015

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

16.5/20
Very dark, near impenetrable hearted black-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is full and well-packed with up-front, robust and solid aromas of dark-red berry and plum fruit, with notes of blackberries and redcurrants, unfolding a little leafiness. The fruit is quite primary in expression. Medium-full bodied, the palate has up-front, primary flavours of dark-red berryfruit, plums, currants and herbs, and some leafiness. The fruit is supported by grainy tannin extraction lending plenty of mouthfeel and presence, with fresh, lacy acidity providing good tension and energy. The wine carries to a fulsome, soft-textured finish. This is an up-front, fulsome and robust, primary-fruited Merlot with dark-red berry and plum flavours, along with currants and herbs on a grainy palate. Match with barbecued red meat dishes over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from two sites in the Bridge Pa Triangle, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 6 months in10% new oak. 16.5/20 May 2017 RRP $16.00

Ash Ridge ‘Estate’ Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

17+/20

Bright, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, pale edged. The nose is very elegant and tightly bound with intense aromas of fresh and pure green stonefruits with greengages and gooseberries and notes of fresh herbs, unfolding nettle and smoky elements. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is slender in presentation with intense and tightly concentrated flavours of green stonefruits, gooseberries and notes of fresh herbs and nettles, with nutty oak adding detail. The wine flows along a fine-textured phenolic line with balancing, fresh, lacy acidity, leading to a taut, herb nuanced finish. This is a tightly bound, slender, but intensely fruited oak-influenced Sauvignon Blanc with flavours of green stonefruits and herbs on a fine, dry, crisp palate. Serve as an aperitif, and with seafood and poultry dishes over the next 3 years. Fruit from the ‘Cardoness’ vineyard, Bridge Pa, 70% fermented in barrel to 11.5% alc., the wine aged 5 months on lees with batonnage. 17.0+/20 May 2017 RRP $21.00

Bright straw-yellow colour with some depth and light green hues on the rim. The nose is very tight and fresh with youthfully firm and slender aromas of green stonefruits and piquant fresh herbs forming an intense and well-concentrated core with purity and clarity of expression. Subtle and delicate nutty nuances emerge with mineral elements. Dry to taste and light-medium-bodied, the palate is elegant and slender in presentation with a fine, tightly bound core of fresh green stonefruits, herbs and delicate nutty notes. The mouthfeel is bright and lively with crisp, refreshing acidity and the wine follows a fine-textured line, leading to a sift, finely packed, lingering finish of herbs and greengage fruit. This is an elegant and slender oak-influenced Sauvignon Blanc with fresh green stonefruit and herb flavours at the core and a bright, lively mouthfeel Serve with salads and vegetables and Mediterranean fare over the next 3+ years. Fruit from the winery vineyard fully barrel-fermented to 11.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged in seasoned oak with batonnage. 16.5+/20 Sep 2016 RRP $21.00

Ash Ridge ‘Estate’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2016

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

17+/20
Very dark, deep, black-hued purple-red colour, lighter on the rim and youthful in appearance. This is elegantly proportioned on the nose with very good intensity of dark-red and blackberry fruit and dark plums, with subtle notes of minerally reduction and nutty oak, unfolding curranty and herbal elements. Medium-full bodied, the palate has lively, rich and juicy fruit flavours of dark-red and blackberries, plums along with notes of redcurrants and herbs. The fruit is underlined by fine-grained powdery tannin extraction, with balancing acidity. The wine has good linearity and carries to a fine, elegant, lingering finish of plums, currants and herbs. This is an elegant, fine-grained Merlot with sweet dark-red and blackberry fruit, plums, currants and herb detail. Match with herb-marinated lamb and beef dishes, and Mediterranean fare over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from two sites in the Bridge Pa Triangle, fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new oak. 17.0+/20 May 2017 RRP $21.00

Ash Ridge ‘Estate’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

17/20
Full, even, very deep, black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on edge, and youthful in appearance. The nose is elegantly presented with refined and intense aromas of blackberry and dark raspberry fruit intermingling with black and white pepper, herbs, black minerals and violet florals. Medium-bodied, the palate is fine in proportion with tightly bound flavours of blackberries, dark raspberries, notes of liquorice, black and white pepper and herbal elements. Florals and nutty nuances emerge from the fine-textured core, and the wine flows along a flowery extracted line with balanced acidity. The flavours carry to a slender, but lingering finish of white pepper and herbs. This is an elegant and slender Syrah with tightly bound flavours of black and red berried fruits with notes of pepper and herbs on a refined palate. Match with Middle Eastern fare over the next 4 years. 74% MS, 46% Chave and 7% clone 877 fruit from the ‘Cardoness’ vineyard, Bridge Pa, fermented 50% with indigenous yeasts and 8% whole bunches to 12.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new oak. 17.0/20 May 2017 RRP $21.00

Ash Ridge ‘Premium’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

18-/20
Full, even straw-yellow colour with green-gold hue, a little lighter on the rim. This has a full, broad and well-packed nose with aromas of ripe white and yellow stonefruits entwined with nutty oak and gunflinty reductive sulphide complexities, unveiling a subtle layering of spicy and toasty oak with buttery MLF hints. Medium-bodied, the palate has vibrant and fresh fruit flavours of white and yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits melded with a layering of gunflint reduction and nutty lees notes, unfolding toasty oak detail. The flavours are mouthfilling and form a good heart, and the wine flows along a fine-textured line with underlying, refreshing acidity, leading to a long and sustained finish of toasty oak. This is a broad, mouthfilling Chardonnay with flavours of stonefruits, gunflint and toasty oak, with fine textures and fresh acid. Serve with grilled and roasted seafood, poultry and pork over the next 4 years. A selection of 15 barrels. Predominantly clones 95 and 15, fully barrel-fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 25% new oak, undergoing batonnage and 75^ MLF. 18.0-/20 May 2017 RRP $31.00
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