Featured Reviews

Babich 2015 ‘Irongate’ Chardonnay and Red, and 2014 ‘The Patriarch’

19 April,2017
The Babich ‘Irongate’ and ‘The Patriarch’ are the flagship wines for the Babich family and company. The ‘Irongate’ Chardonnay and Cabernet/Merlot/Franc blend are single vineyard wines with a pedigree stretching hack to 1985 and 1986 respectively, and have faithfully represented the Gimblett Gravels region from the start. The winemaking is traditional and has not changed significantly over the three decades of production, though there has been the inclusion of the benefits of viticultural and vinification advances in that time. In the Chardonnay, the winemakers have occasionally employed a portion of MLF, partly because of the use of wild ferments and if the growing season suited its usage. I’ve participated in vertical tastings of these wines, and can report a remarkable consistency, but the wines also reflect their vintages and growing seasons, as single vineyard wines ought to.

The Patriarch is the very best wine that the Babich family make, named in honour of company founder and industry pioneer Josip Babich. It is the best red possible from the ‘Irongate’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels and made only in the best years, the style not dictated by variety or blend. The wine was first made in the mid-1990s, I believe with the 1996 vintage. Here, I review the new release 2015 ‘Irongate’ Chardonnay and Red, and 2014 ‘The Patriarch’. www.babichwines.co.nz


Babich ‘Irongate’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Bright straw-yellow colour with pale lemon-gold hues. The nose is fresh with a firm and well-concentrated core of ripe yellow stonefruits melded with mealy and nutty elements, creamy barrel-ferment notes and complexing suggestions of flint, minerals, toast and smoke. Medium-full bodied, the palate has flavours of fresh yellow stonefruits, mealy and nutty layers, complexed by subtle a layering of creamy barrel-ferment and toasty oak forming a concentrated core. The fruit is underlined by fresh acidity lending vitality, and a little alcoholic power providing drive and linearity. The wine carries to a long and sustained finish of stonefruits, mealy and nutty notes. This is a firm, concentrated, complex Chardonnay with stonefruit, mealy and nutty flavours on a lively palate with underlying power and linearity. Match with seafood, poultry and pork dishes over the next 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Irongate’ vineyard, WBP, and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak, undergoing batonnage and less than 10% MLF. 19.0+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $39.95

Babich ‘Irongate’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot/Franc 2015

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Dark, deep ruby-red with black hue at the core, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is very deep, concentrated and intense with fragrant blackberry, blackcurrant and cassis aromas and an amalgam of dark herbs and iron-earth mineral notes. The oaking is integrated. Medium-full bodied, the palate has rich, sweet and luscious flavours of ripe blackcurrants and blackberry fruit with cassis liqueur, and some savoury herb and iron-earth and mineral notes. The palate has a good core of fine, grainy tannin extraction providing an excellent heart, a hint of robustness and palate presence. The acidity lends freshness and liveliness, and the wine carries to a very long, elegant finish of cassis and herbs. This is a rich and luscious Cabernet/Merlot blend with blackcurrant, blackberry and herb flavours with plenty of tannin extraction and freshness on the palate. This will keep for 8-10+ years. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc from the ‘Irongate’ vineyard, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 15 months in 40% new French oak. 18.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $39.95

Full, very dark, black-red colour with slight purple hues on the edge. The nose is very fresh and elegant with vibrant and aromatic lifted blackcurrant and blackberry fruit along with notes of dark herbs, spices and iron-earth minerals, unveiling some pencilly oak. The aromatics are refined, intense and intricately detailed. Medium-bodied, the palate possesses fresh and lively aromatic fruit flavours of blackcurrants and cassis with blackberries, dark herbs, subtle earthy elements and pencilly oak. The mouthfeel is fresh and poised with bright, lacy acidity providing energy and tension, and a fine-grained structural line that leads to a ling, piquant blackcurrant and herb flavoured finish. This is an elegant, refreshingly vibrant Cabernet/Merlot blend with blackcurrant, herb, earthy and subtle oak flavours on a fine-grained palate. Match with roast beef or lamb ove the next 7-9+ years. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon,30% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc from the ‘Irongate’ vineyard, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 15 months in 40% new French oak. 18.5+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $39.95

Babich ‘The Patriarch’ Hawke’s Bay 2014

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Full, very dark, near impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues. This has a softly full and voluminous nose unfolding layers of ripe blackberry fruit along with blackcurrants and cassis liqueur, and suggestions of boysenberries, entwined with iron-earth elements and spicy, cedary oak. Medium-full bodied, the palate features rich, succulent and luscious flavours of ripe blackberries intermixed with cassis and spices, unfolding iron-earth minerals and cedary oak. The fruit sweetness is balanced by plenty of fine-grained tannin structure and grip, with underlying fresh, lacy acidity providing energy and drive. The wine carries with power to a long and sustained, rich and plush finish of ripe black fruits, spices and oak cedar. This is a rich and succulent fruited Merlot/Cabernet/Malbec blend with black fruits, spices and cedar on a well-structured and fresh palate. Match with slow-cooked game meat and semi-hard cheeses over the next 10+ years. A blend of 46% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Malbec from the ‘Irongate’ vineyard, Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 45% new French oak barriques, blended, then given a further 3 months in barrel. 19.0+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $79.95
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