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Esk Valley ‘The Hillside’ 2013
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Featured Reviews

Esk Valley ‘The Hillside’ 2013

30 May,2018

The Esk Valley ‘The Terraces’ is a unique representation of the 1 ha of vines on the terraced hillside overlooking the former winery in the Bay View district of Hawke’s Bay. Winemaker Gordon Russell took the approach of co-fermenting equal proportions of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and the result since its first vintage in 1991 has seen the rise of one of the great red wines of New Zealand. The wine is powerful, rich and individual. (Click here to see my review notes of the 2013-2015 vintages tasted in September last year.)

In 2016 Esk Valley released their inaugural ‘The Hillside’ wine, from the 2010 vintage, ostensibly the second label to the iconic ‘The Terraces’.  The 2010 ‘The Hillside’ has been well-received, I’ve rated it around the 5-stars mark, noting it to be of a more robust style (click here to see my review).

In the exceptional 2013 Hawke’s Bay vintage, Gordon reports that the yield of the Merlot was relatively abundant.  Rather than making a ‘The Terraces’ wine which was Merlot predominant, he decided to use this fruit to form the basis of a ‘The Hillside’ wine.  The resultant wine is two-thirds Merlot with 30% Cabernet Franc and a little Malbec.  As with the first ‘The Hillside’ wine, this will be released with around 5 years bottle-age on it.  Here is my review of the new wine.


Esk Valley ‘The Hillside’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec 2013

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and well-concentrated with aromas of ripe black plums along with fragrant redcurrant nots entwined with subtle earthy and suggestions of secondary detail, unfolding dark herbs and some spices. The aromatics grow in depth and density with aeration. Full-bodied, the palate is rich and plush with sweetly ripe, juicy flavours of black plums with a suggestion of boysenberries and blackberries, along with subtle notes of redcurrants and dark herbs. The fruit sweetness fills the palate and is supported by very fine-grained tannin extraction providing plenty of mouthfeel and refined grip. The acidity is balanced and provides underlying energy and drive. As the wine flows, pencilly oak elements emerge add lift and complexing detail. The wine carries to a very long, rich, concentrated, sweet, black-fruited finish. This is a beautifully rich and sweet-fruited, generous and plush, Merlot-based blend with mouthfilling flavours and fine structure, finishing with real length. A co-fermented blend of 66% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 4% Malbec from ‘The Terraces’ vineyard, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. 19.5-/20 May 2018 RRP $90.00

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