Featured Reviews

Elephant Hill 2017 Rosé, 2016 Le Phant Blanc and 2015 ‘Reserve’ Merlot Malbec and Syrah

19 February,2018

Elephant Hill was established by the Weiss family in 2003, and in a short time became one of the most highly respected producers of Hawke’s Bay wine. The winery, cellar door and first-class restaurant as well as the home vineyard is at Te Awanga, where all the varieties except the Bordeaux reds are planted. The company also owns vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa, giving fruit from the warmer sub-regions. The quality of the wines is due to the very thoughtful and detailed winemaking of Steve Skinner and the fruit from the vineyards tended by Jon Peet. All of the wines are worthy of attention. I review the new 2017 Tempranillo Rosé, the 2016 ‘Le Phant Blanc’ blended white, and the 2015 ‘Reserve’ Merlot/Malbec and Syrah wines. www.elephanthill.co.nz


Elephant Hill Hawke’s Bay Temranillo Rosé 2017

Rose from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, very pale pink colour with a little depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly fresh with delicate aromas of quince and watermelon, along with subtle notes of strawberries and cream, red florals and thirst-quenching mineral nuances. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has elegantly concentrated and fine, tightly concentrated flavours of strawberries, quince and watermelon, along with aromatic red florals. The mouthfeel is refreshing with brisk acidity and the wine carries along a very fine-textured line unfolding mouthwatering mineral nuances. The wine carries to a long, elegant, lingering finish of strawberries and minerals. This is an elegantly concentrated, subtly mouthwatering dry rosé with strawberry, quince and watermelon flavours and a fine line. Serve as an aperitif, with canapés and antipasto over the next 2 years. Hand-picked Tempranillo fruit from the company’s Bridge Pa Triangle vineyard, WBP and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 1.8 g/L RS, the wine undergoing batonnage. 18.5/20 Feb 2018 RRP $29.00

Elephant Hill ‘Le Phant Blanc’ Hawke’s Bay Viognier/Pinot Gris/Gewurztraminer 2016

Blended White from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright straw-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. This has a finely proportioned nose with fragrant aromas of exotic white and yellow florals, yellow stonefruits, apricots and fresh blossom, unfolding subtle lees and mineral elements. The aromatics build in intensity with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has elegantly presented and intense flavours of white and yellow stonefruits, apricots, exotic florals and a little ginger. The mouthfeel is bright and lively with vibrancy and fresh background acidity. The wine flows along a soft, near-unctuous line, leading to a long finish. This is a finely concentrated, vibrant white blend with exotic floral and stonefruit flavours and a near-unctuous mouthfeel. Serve with Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine over the next 3 years. A blend of 65% Viognier, 27% Pinot Gris and 8% Gewurztraminer from the company’s Te Awanga vineyard, WBP and co-fermented in stainless-steel, 5% in barrel to 14.0% alc. and 2.6 g/L RS, the wine undergoing batonnage. 18.0+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $22.00

Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Malbec 2015

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, very dark, black-red colour, near-saturated, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fine and firmly concentrated, quite elegant in proportion with ripe aromas of blackberries and black plums along with subtle notes spices, black ink and minerals, unfolding nuances of blackcurrants, with aromatic oak adding detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate has rich and intense flavours of ripe blackberries, plums, liquorice and spices, along with blackcurrants and ink. The fruit is complexed by spicy, nutty oak. Fine-grained tannin structure underlines the fruit with integrated and balanced acidity providing lift to the fruit expression. The flavours possess a degree of opulence and carry along a fine-textured line, leading to a long and sustained finish. This is a rich and intensely flavoured Merlot/Malbec blend with ripe blackberry, plum, liquorice and spice flavours on a fine-structured palate. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 8-10 years. A blend of 72% Merlot, 20% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon from the company’s Gimblett (58%) and Bridge Pa (42%) vineyards, fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 24 months in 45% new French oak. 280 cases made. 19.0+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $49.00

Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, very dark, saturated black-hued purple-red colour, very youthful in appearance. The nose is elegantly concentrated with deep and intense aromas of ripe blackberries and dark-raspberry fruit complexed by black pepper, liquorice and an array of violet and black florals, spices and dark herbs. Spicy, nutty oak adds to the fruit richness. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a rich, deep and solid heart with ripe fruit flavours of blackberries, black pepper and dark raspberries, with liquorice and aromatic violet florals, and spice flavours complexed by herb and nutty elements adding interest and detail. The fruit is supported by fine-grained flowery tannin structure and grip, with fine acidity. The wine flows with energy to a harmonious, rich finish. This is a rich, ripe, exotic black-fruited Syrah with pepper, liquorice spice and floral flavours and herb complexities on a very fine-structured palate. Match with roasted game meats and semi-hard cheeses over the next 8-9+ years. Syrah fruit, 56% from the Triangle, 30% from Te Awanga and 14% Gimblett vineyards, co-fermented with 1% Viognier and 15% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 19 months in 25% new French oak. 497 cases made. 19.0/20 Feb 2018 RRP $49.00

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