Featured Reviews

Pask 2016 Hawke’s Bay and ‘Small Batch’ Chardonnays, 2014 Merlot and 2013 ‘Declaration’ Cabernet Merlot Malbec

25 June,2018

There have been a number of changes at Pask Winery in Hawke’s Bay over the past year. Owner John Benton has merged the Pask Winery with Jackson Estate in Marlborough which he also owns under the Benton Family Wine Group. Both operations come under the management of Jeff Hart. The very experienced Jeff Clarke oversees the winemaking of the group. Winemaker and shareholder Kate Radburnd left last year to pursue her own winemaking interests, and recently Julz Brodgen on the winemaking team departed to commit more to her own wine brand.

The winemaking and overall winery running at Pask is now headed by Paul Smith who first worked at Pask in 2004 before travelling overseas to return to the company full-time in 2010. Graham Bee, with Pask for 5 years tends to the company’s 52+ ha of vines in the Gimblett Gravels, planted mainly to the classical Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay varieties.

Paul tells me that new plantings of Chardonnay are coming on stream, and he is particularly excited with the performance of clones 95 and 15 that will add to that of the existing Mendoza. With future plantings, clone 548 is high on the wish list. In winemaking, it is a continual evolution, and his aim, is to reduce the amount of new oak used in the wines, especially the flagship ‘Declaration’ wines. This is a fairly common theme heard throughout the industry as less intervention and more natural methodology grows in importance. Here, I review four wines, the 2016 Hawke’s Bay’ and‘Small Batch’ ‘Wild Ferment’ Chardonnays, the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Merlot, and the 2013 ‘Declaration’ Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec, the middle two I have reviewed earlier. www.pask.co.nz


Pask Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright straw-yellow colour with pale golden tints, lighter on the edge. The nose is soft with genttly concentrated aromas of white stonefruits and a subtle layering of flinty lees, unfolding a suggestion of herbs. This is fresh, clean and straightforward. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegant heart with modestly concentrated flavours of white stonefruits entwined with flinty lees detail. The mouthfeel has freshness with good acidity, and the wine flows along a light-textured line leading to an uncomplicated, clean, stonefruited finish. This is an uncomplicated Chardonnay with modest stonefruit and flint notes and a fresh palate. Serve as an aperitif, with seafood and poultry over the next 2+ years. Fruit predominantly from the ‘Settlement 1 and 2’ vineyards fermented in seasoned barrels and puncheons to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months on lees with batonnage, avoiding MLF. 1,400 cases made. 16.5/20 Jun 2018 RRP $22.00

Pask ‘Small Batch – Wild Yeast’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, even, light golden hues yellow colour. The nose is softly full and rich with good depth and concentration of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, along with enriching notes of creamy barrel-ferment, and smoky, nutty interest. The nose unfolds layers of richness and complexing detail with aeration. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegantly concentrated and rich palate with bright and vibrant flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, along with creamy and lifted nutty oak, and some flinty and smoky nuances. The palate has suggestions of unctuousness, balanced by fresh acidity, and the wine has good linearity and drive, leading to a citrussy and nutty finish. This is an elegantly rich and concentrated Chardonnay with stonefruit and citrus fruit flavours along with creamy, nutty oak and fresh acidity balancing the richness. Match with roasted pork over the next 3-4 years. Clones Mendoza and 15 Chardonnay fruit from the Gimblett Gravels, indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned French oak puncheons to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 50% new French oak on lees avoiding MLF. 390 dozen made. 18.5/20 Jun 2018 RRP $25.00

Bright golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and gently voluminous with harmoniously packed aromas of white and yellow stonefruits, along with mealy and smoky notes and nutty oak, unveiling subtle creamy barrel-ferment nuances. Medium-bodied, the palate has a rich and vibrantly lively core of savoury, smoky, white and yellow stonefruits with mealy hints and subtle nutty oak. The palate is underlined by fresh acidity and the wine flows with good energy along a fine-textured phenolic line, leading to a thirst-quenching finish. This is a fresh, lively Chardonnay with a good core of savoury stonefruit with smoky and nutty oak notes on a fine-textured, mouthwatering palate. Serve with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 3-4 years. Mendoza and clone 15 fruit indigenous yeast fermented in French oak puncheons to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months on lees in 50% new oak. 390 dozen made. 18.0-/20 May 2017 RRP $25.00

Pask Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2014

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Ruby-red colour with good depth, a little lighter on the edge with a touch of garnet. The nose is softly full and voluminous with good depth of dark-red and black currant and berry fruit aromas along with dark-red plums and a layer of dark herbs. This is fresh and bright, and shows good depth with some subtle cool-spectrum hints. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegantly concentrated heart with flavours of black plums and berry fruit with notes of red and blackcurrants and a delicate herbal layering. The fruit forms a rounded core with fine-grained tannin extraction and the mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity. The palate core becomes firmer as it flows, showing good linearity, leading to a sustained finish with some presence. This Merlot has black fruit with coolish currant and herb notes with a good palate core, fine structure and presence. Match with herb-marinated beef and lamb dishes over the next 4 years. Merlot fruit from the ‘McKay’ block, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 8% new French and American oak barrels. 17.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $22.00

Dark, even ruby-red colour with some black-purple hues, a little lighter on the edge. This has a solid and up-front nose with fresh, ripe blackberry, blackcurrant and plum aromas along with hints of dark herbs and subtle nuances of nutty oak. Medium-full bodied the palate is sweet and lush with flavours of blackberries, currants and black plums entwined with redcurrant and dark herb detail. The flavours are mouthfilling, forming a hearty core with fine, grainy tannin structure and fresh, lively acidity providing plenty of energy. The wine carries to a rich, black-fruited, lingering finish showing dark herbs. This is a rich and lively, black berry and plum-fruited Merlot with dark herb notes, plenty of presence and heart, with good structure and freshness. Match with herb-marinated lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from the ‘McKay’ block fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 8% new French and American oak. 18.0-/20 May 2017 RRP $22.00

Pask ‘Declaration’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec 2013

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Very dark, deep ruby-red colour with black hues at the heart, a little lighter edged. The nose is elegantly proportioned and deeply packed and dense aromas of harmoniously interwoven notes of blackcurrants, black plums along with spicy blackberries, along with a layer with an amalgam of spicy herbs and new oak adding lift and richness. A little iron-earth complexity emerges with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is well-packed with flavours of blackcurrants and cassis liqueur integrated with black plums and blackberries, dark herbs and spicy new oak. The fruit has sweetness and richness and is supported by fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction providing good structure and presence. Integrated acidity lends balance, freshness and a degree of tension. Iron-earth elements emerge as the wine carries to a sustained finish. This is a densely packed Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec blend with blackcurrant, cassis, plum and blackberry fruit along with dark herbs and spicy new oak. Match with slow-cooked game meat, casseroles and semi-hard cheeses over the next 8+ years. A blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 15% Malbec from the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 19 months an approx. 85% new French and American oak barriques, hogsheads and puncheons. 399 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $50.00


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