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Featured Reviews

SOHO 2016 Carter Chardonnay and 2014 Zabeel

01 May,2017
For those who know Rachael Carter, the company’s ‘Jomara’ vineyard at Onetangi on Waiheke Island is very special to her. While all of the prestige ‘Black Collection’ wines are of an extremely high standard, the bottlings from Waiheke Island stand out for me. The ‘Westwood’ Rosé, ‘Carter’ Chardonnay, ‘Valentina’ Syrah and ‘Revolver’ Bordeaux-varietal blend are 5-star or very close to 5-star wines for me on a regular basis. James Rowan is SOHO’s contracted winemaker for the Waiheke Island wines, and though he has many vintages there under his belt, he always works hard at making the best possible wines. He is ably assisted by viticulturist Matt Sloane who, like James, is coming to understand and appreciate the nuances of the ‘Jomara’ vineyard.

In 2015, Rachael introduced a new super-premium red wine named ‘Zabeel’ as part of the ‘Blue Blood Collection’, named after the champion sire of Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan and their syndicate. The wine, made as a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Malbec (to date) from the ‘Jomara’ vineyard lived up to its billing (click here to see my review of the inaugural 2013 vintage) The ‘Zabeel’ is regarded by James and Matt as a "moving” or "evolving” style, as the vines grow in, and express more with, maturity. Here, I review the new 2016 ‘Carter’ Chardonnay, the vintage deemed to be exceptional for the variety on the Island, and the second 2014 ‘Zabeel’, a wine only made in exceptional years. There will be a 2015 ‘Zabeel’, but no 2016 or 2017.


SOHO ‘Carter’ Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

Bright straw-yellow colour with lemon-gold hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is softly full with intricately layered and detailed aromas of white and yellow stonefruits interwoven with complexing nutty and yeasty lees notes forming a deep and concentrated core. Subtle oak and funky mineral nuances emerge with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is tightly bound with an intense and concentrated core of white and yellow stonefruits layered with nutty and yeasty lees detail, along with subtle oak elements. Bright, lacy acidity lends freshness and energy, and the wine flows along a fine-textured line with excellent vitality, leading to a sustained, nutty, minerally finish. This is a concentrated and intense Chardonnay with lively stonefruit flavours complexed by yeast lees detail on a fresh, fine-featured palate. Match with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Jomara’ vineyard, two-thirds clone 15 and one-third clone 95, fully barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 6 months in 23% new French oak barriques, undergoing batonnage and partial MLF, followed by a further month on full lees in tank. 18.5+/20 May 2017 RRP $38.00

SOHO ‘Blue Blood Reserve’ ‘Zabeel’ Waiheke Island 2014

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

Very dark, deep, near-impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. This has a full, deep and densely-packed nose with ripe blackberry and dark-red berry fruits along with black ink and iron-earth complexities, unfolding black plum notes with subtle spice elements, black pepper and exotic, nutty oak. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich with vibrant and concentrated, deeply packed flavours of black berried fruits, black plums, earth and inky notes, along with spice and oak flavours. The flavours unfold in multi-dimensional layers to fill the mouth, and follow a fine-grained line with considerable flowery, tannin extraction. The wine has acid freshness, energy and vigour, and carries to a powerful, deep, lingering finish of black fruits, earth, ink and spice. This is a rich, fulsome and densely concentrated Merlot-based blend with black fruits, earth and inky notes and complexing spice elements on a well-extracted, fine-grained, fresh palate. Match with slow cooked game meat dishes, casseroles and hard cheeses over the next 10+ years. A blend of 50% Merlot, 33% Syrah and 17% Malbec from the ‘Jomara’ vineyard, hand-picked and fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine spending 5-6 weeks on skins, and aged 9 months in 83% new ‘Alain Fouquet’ French oak. 6 barrels made. 19.0+/20 May 2017 RRP $138.00
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