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Featured Reviews

Decibel Wines 2017 Sauvignon, and 2016 Rosé, Pinot Noir, Malbec and ‘Testify’

16 April,2018

Decibel Wines is the venture of Daniel Brennan, based in Bridge Pa, making wines predominantly from Hawke’s Bay fruit and from Martinborough. His vision is to create wines "using classical practices, minimal intervention…with a community based attitude.” Daniel is associated with many winemaker friends and innovators in Hawke’s Bay, and cites influences from Martinborough and the United States where he originally harks from. His forebears were involved with wine, and his background in music are influences in his winemaking. He began making Hawke’s Bay wines under his ‘Decibel’ label in 2009, and Martinborough bottlings followed in 2010, and he has since developed a following. Here, I review his 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 Rosé. Martinborough Pinot Noir, Malbec and new ‘Testify’ red.


Decibel ‘Crownthorpe Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, pale on the edge. The nose is fresh with taut and finely concentrated aromas of gooseberries, green stonefruits, and nuances of nettles and cut-grass, along with a subtle waxiness. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is slender in proportion with a tight core of green stonefruits entwined with nettles, cut-grass and fresh herbs. The mouthfeel is fresh, lively and mouthwatering with crisp acidity, and the wine flows along a light, phenolic-textured line. Nuances of snow peas and green capsicums emerge and carry to a zesty, thirst-quenching finish. This is a slender, mouthwatering, zesty Sauvignon Blanc with a dry, textural core of nettles, herbs and green stonefruits. Serve with salads and vegetables, and Mediterranean fare over the next 2 years. Fruit from elevated terraces in Crownthorpe, fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc., the wine undergoing batonnage. 16.5+/20 Apr 2018 RRP $19.99

Decibel ‘Crownthorpe Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016

Rose from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Moderately deep, candy-floss pink with slight peach hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full with fresh aromas of strawberry fruit harmoniously melded with notes of quince, and subtle fresh herb and confectionary elements. Some mouthwatering mineral suggestions show. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has gently sweet and luscious flavours of strawberries in a harmonious amalgam of quince and confectionary. The fruit forms a fine, firm core underlined by light phenolics, and balanced, refreshing acidity. The confectionary elements are balanced by a thirst-quenching mouthfeel, and the flavours carry to a lingering fruity finish. This is a gently rich-fruited dry rosé with strawberry, quince and confectionary flavours on a thirst-quenching palate. Serve with antipasto and tapas over the next 2 years. Pinot Noir fruit from Crownthorpe, given 6 hours skin contact and fermented in stainless-steel to 13.5% alc. and approx. 4 g/L RS. 16.5+/20 Apr 2018 RRP $19.99

Decibel Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Dark ruby-red colour with garnet hues, showing good depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full with a packed and rounded heart of ripe dark-red and black cherry and berry fruits along with an amalgam of dark herbs, violet florals, savoury earthiness, unfolding black plum elements. Medium-bodied, the palate is finely presented with rich, juicy and vibrant, but stylishly restrained flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruit, intermixed with plums and subtle notes of savoury dark herbs and a little earthiness. The mouthfeel is enlivened by lacy acidity and the fruit is supported by light, fine-grained tannin extraction and supple grip. The fruit forms a tight core and line, and the wine flows with good energy to a long, elegant finish. This is a stylish Pinot Noir with vibrant dark-red berry and plum fruit and subtle earthy and herb notes on a supple, lively palate. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 5 years. Pinot Noir fruit from ‘Brodie Estate’, fermented with 10% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 3-4 weeks on skins and aged 10 months in 10% new French oak barriques. 18.0/20 Apr 2018 RRP $31.99

Decibel Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Malbec 2016

Malbec from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Very dark, deep, impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on the edge, youthful in appearance. The nose id full, with rich, ripe and opulent aromas of spicy black plums along with notes of boysenberries and blackberries, and funky meat and game, unfolding some black ink, tar and earth. This is bold and fruit-focussed. Medium-full bodied, the palate has richly sweet and fulsome flavours of ripe black plums, boysenberries, blackberries entwined funky game, black ink and earth. The opulent and mouthfilling flavours are supported by grainy tannin extraction and grip with balanced acid freshness. This has power, drip and drive and the wine carries to a dry, textured finish of black fruits and earth. This is a rich and opulent, bold Malbec with ripe black plum, boysenberry and blackberry fruit entwined with funky game and earthy notes on a well-structured palate. Match with roasted and slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 5+ years. Fruit from the Gimblett Gravels fermented to 13.0% alc. the wine on skins 19 days post ferment and aged 10 months in 2 and 3 y.o. oak barriques. 17.5/20 Apr 2018 RRP $27.99

Decibel ‘Testify’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay 2016

Malbec from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, even, near impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, very youthful in appearance. The nose is refined and near-ethereal in expression, building in volume to show very ripe blackberry and black plum fruit along with spices, and iron-earth minerals, and subtle game elements. The aromatics are complex in detail with fragrance. Medium-full bodied, the palate is refined with softly mouthfilling flavours of ripe blackberries and black plums, with spices and pencilly oak, along with iron-earth detail and suggestions of game. The fruit is sweetly rich and vibrant, with growing concentration forming a tight, textured palate with fine tannin extraction and balanced acidity. The flavours carry to a concentrated and sustained finish. This is a finely concentrated Malbec with ripe black fruits complexed by fine oak and mineral detail on a firmly structured palate. Match with roasted red meats and semi-hard cheeses over the next 7-9 years. 100% Malbec from the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 19 days on skins and aged 10 months in a new 500 L French oak puncheon and two 3 y.o. French oak barriques. 18.5/20 Apr 2018 RRP $44.99

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