Featured Reviews




Sacred Hill ‘Special Selection’ 2016 Chardonnays and 2015 Reds

06 July,2017
The Sacred Hill ‘Special Selection’ wines are among the best wines of Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand. They are the epitome of the most fastidious viticulture, of vines from the company’s best vineyard sites, and the most sensitive winemaking, personally overseen by chief winemaker Tony Bish, and with Jenny Dobson for the reds. As a result of this extra attention, the wines have become highly lauded both here in New Zealand and overseas, and have a track record second to none. The ‘Helmsman’ in particular has performed well against First Growth Bordeaux at a number of comparative tastings. But what is particularly incredible is that Sacred Hill has maintained the pricing at a reasonable level, at a time now when many companies and producers are asking two to three times the price for what are similar quality wines. Yes, these are superlative wines which the Sacred Hill management team has (at least until now) kept at prices which consumers can still afford.

For a run-down on the background of the ‘Wine Thief’ and ‘Riflemans’ Chardonnays, the ‘Deerstalker’ Syrah, ‘Brokenstone’ Merlot-based wine and ‘Helmsman’ Cabernet-based wine, go to my reviews on last year’s releases by clicking here. This year’s release is essentially the same, rolling one vintage forward. As most of us are aware, 2016 and 2015, which these wines comprise, are part of the four year consecutive run of excellent and outstanding vintages in Hawke’s Bay, starting from 2013. The Riflemans vineyard in the Dartmoor Valley for Chardonnay, and the Gimblett Gravels vineyards for the reds, all performed exceptionally for quality in 2015 and 2016. Here are my reviews on the new Sacred Hill ‘Special Selection’ wines. They are indeed superb and spectacular, and sit among the best wines I have reviewed this year. www.sacredhill.com

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Sacred Hill ‘Wine Thief’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

18.5+/20
Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, paler on the rim. The nose is gently full and voluminous with a concentrated core of ripe yellow stonefruits with mealy notes, along with plenty of sweet, aromatic, spicy and nutty oak unfolding toasty elements. A minerally edge emerges with aeration.. Medium-bodied, the palate has rich and vibrant fruit flavours of yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, along with an amalgam of mealy notes, entwined with sweet, spicy, toasty oak. The palate has power and richness, and is up-front in fruit and oak expression. Fresh acidity lends the mouthfeel plenty of vitality, and the wine carries to a very long, lingering finish of ripe citrus fruit, and nutty, toasty oak. This is a rich, vibrant, mouthfilling Chardonnay with ripe citrus fruits and plenty of toasty oak and underlying power. Match with roasted pork over the next 4 years. First made in 2004. Hand-picked Mendoza fruit, vines 26 y.o. from the ‘Riflemans’ vineyard, Dartmoor Valley, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 50% French oak barriques with 100% MLF. 297 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $34.99

Sacred Hill ‘Riflemans’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

19.5/20
Bright, pale golden-hued yellow colour with lemon-green tints. The nose is very elegant in presentation with a rich and concentrated core of ripe yellow stonefruits and aromatic citrus fruit, unfolding mealy and nutty detail, interwoven harmoniously with spicy and toasty oak nuances. This has great finesse and intensity, building in penetration with aeration. Medium-bodied, the palate has elegant, but penetrating and intensely concentrated flavours of citrus and yellow stonefruits melded harmoniously with layers of creamy barrel-ferment and nutty, toasty oak, the flavours discreetly mouthfilling. The mouthfeel fresh and taut with the concentrated, near exotic fruit the feature, and the palate is enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity, with underlying power and drive. The wine carries to a very long and sustained, concentrated finish of poise and finesse. This is a beautifully refined and poised Chardonnay with great concentration of fruit and layers of fine oak on an intense and vibrant palate with great length. This is superb. Match with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 5-6 years. First made in 1995. Hand-picked Mendoza clone fruit, own rooted and 26 y.o., from the ‘Riflemans’ vineyard, Dartmoor Valley, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 80% new French oak barriques, undergoing 100% MLF. 707 dozen made. 19.5/20 Jul 2017 RRP $69.99

Sacred Hill ‘Deerstalkers’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

19.5/20
Very dark, near impenetrable purple-black red colour, a little lighter on the rim, youthful in appearance. The nose is very full and softly voluminous with very ripe fruit aromas of blackberries with notes of black plums and suggestions of boysenberries, along with a very fine amalgam of liquorice, spices and cedary oak. The array of aromatics is spectacular. Medium-full bodied, the palate possesses intensely rich and vibrant, concentrated flavours of blackberries, dark raspberries and black plums, with nuances of blue fruits and liquorice. The mouthfeel has vitality and the sweet fruit is enhanced by fresh acidity, and supported by fine-grained tannin structure and extract, providing fine textures and grip. The fruit has soft and refined density and linearity, and carries to a very long and sustained finish of black fruits and spices. This is a stunning and sweetly rich, vibrant and fully-structured Syrah with an array ripe fruit flavours and cedary oak complexity. Serve with slow-cooked game meat and Middle Eastern fare over the next 7-10+ years. First made in 2004. Fruit from the ‘Deerstalkers’ vineyard, Gimblett Gravels, indigenous yeast fermented with up to 20% whole clusters to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 20-30 days on skins and aged 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels and puncheons. 283 dozen made. 19.5/20 Jul 2017 RRP $59.99

Sacred Hill ‘Brokenstone’ Hawke’s Bay 2015

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

19+/20
Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour, a little lighter on the rim with purple hues. The nose is elegantly proportioned with rich, ripe and well-packed, solid and deep aromas of blackberry and black plum fruit along with redcurrants, dark-red floral elements and a hint of cassis. Medium-full bodied, this has a vibrantly rich and well-concentrated palate of ripe blackberries, blackcurrants and cassis liqueur. This has real elegance and harmony of fruit expression with beautifully sweetness, and the mouthfeel has vigour, the lacy acidity enlivening the palate. The fruit is supported by fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction and the wine flows to a very long, lingering finish of ripe black fruits and cassis notes. This is an elegant, but richly concentrated, vigorous and lively Merlot-based blend with considerable, but fine-grained structure. Match with roast lamb and beef dishes over the next 8-10+ years. First made in 1997. A blend of 87% Merlot, 4% each Malbec and Syrah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc from the ‘Deerstalkers’ vineyard, Gimblett Gravels, mainly indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc., the wines spending 30-40 days on skins and aged 19 months in 22% new French oak barrels. 313 dozen made. 19.0+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $49.99

Sacred Hill ‘Helmsman’ Hawke’s Bay 2015

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

19.5/20
Very full, near impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on the rim, youthful in appearance. The nose is beautifully refined, but very concentrated and intense with subtly penetrating and deep aromas of ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, along with plum and liquorice notes and delicate cassis liqueur elements. Medium-full bodied, the palate has very concentrated and tightly bound, rich and sweet flavours of ripe blackcurrants, blackberries, cassis and liquorice. The fruit has great drive and linearity, and is supported by considerable structure, the tannins very fine-grained and flowery. The acidity lends balance and energy, and the wine carries with great drive and underlying power to a very long and sustained, nuanced finish. The is a wonderfully concentrated and rich Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend with considerable structure, linearity and energy. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison, or serve with hard cheeses over the next 10-15 years. First made in 1997. A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, from the ‘Deerstalkers’ vineyard, Gimblett Gravels, mainly indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 30-40 days on skins, the wine aged 20 months in 50% new French oak. 263 dozen made. 19.5/20 Jul 2017 RRP $84.99
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