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Featured Reviews

Mills Reef ‘Reserve’ Syrah 2017 and ‘Elspeth’ Cabernet Merlot 2016

25 September,2018

My most recent review of Mills Reef wines was of the 2017 ‘Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot and 2016 ‘Elspeth’ Syrah in August, last month. In that review I discussed the new super-premium ‘Arthur Edmund’ wines from the 2013 vintage, these being the best possible wines from Mills Reef’s Gimblett Gravels vineyards in an outstanding vintage. I felt that Mills Reef were justified in their pricing of $350.00 per bottle, especially taking into consideration the global market (click here to see the review article). The review also demonstrated how good value the ‘Reserve’ and ‘Elspeth’ wines of the same variety and style were, with my award of 4-stars and 5-stars respectively. Here, I review the mirror-images of those wines, a 2017 ‘Reserve’ Syrah and a 2016 ‘Elspeth’ Cabernet/Merlot, these wines too, from the Gimblett Gravels.


Mills Reef ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2017

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Even, dark ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh with intense and penetrating aromas of dark raspberry fruit entwined with dark herbs, white and black pepper, unfolding violet florals and spices. This is in the cooler spectrum. Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant on proportion with a slender, concentrated core of raspberry fruit with blackberry notes melded with white and black pepper, herbs and spices. The fruit is supported by light, fine-grained tannin extraction lending a soft, refined mouthfeel and line. Light, lacy acidity enlivens the mouthfeel and carries the wine to a refreshing finish of florals and spices. This is an elegant Syrah with cooler spectrum raspberry, white pepper, floral and spice flavours on a fresh, fine-textured palate. Match with Middle Eastern fare over the next 3+ years. Fruit from the ‘Mere Road’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 9 months in 56% French and 44% American oak, of which 29% was new. 17.5-/20 Sep 2018 RRP $24.95

Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2016

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Dark, deep ruby-red colour with a light purple tint, slightly paler on the rim. The nose is taut and tightly bound, a little restrained in expression with harmoniously interwoven aromas of blackcurrants, blackberries and dark plums, along with dark herbs and iron-earth elements. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegantly concentrated heart with softly packed flavours of blackcurrants, blackberries and redcurrants along with dark herbs and subtle iron-earth notes. The fruit builds in dpth and is supported by fine-grained tannin structure providing grip and linearity, with balanced acidity. The wine carries to a long, fine, sweet-fruited finish. This is an elegant Cabernet/Merlot with fine concentration of blackcurrant, blackberry and redcurrant fruit along with herb and iron-earth detail on a palate with refined grip and linearity. Match with lamb, beef and venison over the next 5-6 years. A blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc from the ‘Mere Road’ vineyard, destemmed to retain whole berries and fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine spending 14 days on skins post ferment and aged 17 months in 37% new French oak hogsheads. 18.0+/20 Sep 2018 RRP $49.95

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