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Featured Reviews

Soljans ‘Fusion’, and 2016 ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay, Merlot Cabernet Malbec and ‘Tribute’

29 August,2018

Soljans Estate has a venerable winegrowing history stretching back to 1932 when Bartul Soljan, coming from the Croatian island of Hvar, planted vines in Henderson. The company is the third oldest winery that is still owned and operated by the original family. Today, Bartul’s grandson Tony Soljan heads the business which comprises a specialised winery, cellar door and café complex on S.H. 16, Kumeu. Tony is joined by daughters Tonia and Lisa, and Tonia’s children Tyler and Amber involved in the business. Tony and his winemaker Jim Corkin make a broad portfolio of wines under the ‘Estate’, ‘Barrique Reserve’ and ‘Premium’ tiers, with fruit sourced from different regions. Soljans has a particular expertise with, and the specialised equipment for sparkling wines that encompasses Sparkling Muscat to Methode Traditionnelle, and the company bottles a number of the country’s leading sparkling wines on site. Here, I review the ‘Fusion’ Sparkling Muscat, 2016 ‘Barrique Reserve’ Chardonnay, ‘Estate’ Merlot/Cabernet/Malbec, and ‘Tribute’ Merlot/Malbec.


Soljans ‘Fusion’ Sparkling Muscat NV

Sparkling Wine from New Zealand – Gisborne


Light straw-yellow colour with green hues, paler on edge, the bubbles moderately fine and persistent. The nose is fresh with elegantly concentrated aromas of white and yellow floral blossoms along with musky and fresh grapey notes and a fine line of cutting and refreshing herbs. This is clean and pure with fine intensity. Sweet to taste and light-bodied, the palate has a frothy and creamy entry with up-front mousse and effervescence, giving energy to a fine core with elegantly concentrated flavours of floral blossom, musk and grapes, along with nuances of refreshing herbs. The palate flows along a light, phenolic-textured line with fresh lacy acidity, leading to an elegant and lingering finish. This is a delightfully elegant and concentrated sparkling Muscat with exotic floral blossom, musk and grape flavours on a fine-textured, creamy palate. Serve as an anytime sparkling over the next 2 years. Muscat fruit from Gisborne fermented to 8.4% alc. and 72 g/L RS. A carbonated wine. Lot L8156. 18.5-/20 Aug 2018 RRP $16.00

Soljans ‘Barrique Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, light golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is full and broad with a deep and softly-packed heart of ripe an savoury yellow stonefruits along with an amalgam of nutty oak, creamy barrel-ferment nuances and hints of lemon-curd MLF. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a solid core of savoury, ripe yellow stonefruits entwined with a layer of nutty oak, subtle creamy barrel-ferment and lemon-curd MLF. The palate has concentration with good underlying power and drive, and the wine flows along a fine-textured phenolic line, leading to a dry, lingering, nutty finish. This is a solid, savoury, ripe yellow-stonefruited Chardonnay with nutty oak and a concentrated, textural heart. Match with roast pork over the next 4 years. Hand-picked Hawke’s Bay fruit fully barrel-fermented to 13.3% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 30% new French oak barriques with batonnage and 60% MLF. 18.0/20 Aug 2018 RRP $26.00

Soljans Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet/Malbec 2016

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Even, dark ruby-red colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is fresh with good depth and intensity of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with cassis notes, along with fresh and dark herbs. This has good fragrance and lift, and the aromatics are vibrant and lively. Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant in proportion with brisk and lively, lifted herb flavours melded with blackcurrants, blackberries and hints of black plums, unfolding cassis and nuances of mint. The fruit forms a firm core with a positive line with sweetness and concentration, and is supported by fine-grained tannin and structure, with refreshing, lacy acidity. The wine carries with good energy to a lingering, curranty finish. This is a bright and lively Merlot-based blend with flavours of blackcurrants and herbs on a grainy palate. Match with herb-marinated lamb and beef dishes over the next 4-5+ years. Hawke’s Bay fruit, a blend of 68% Merlot, 22% Cabernet and 10% Malbec, fermented to 13.3% alc., the wine aged 21 months in 35% new French oak. 17.5-/20 Aug 2018 RRP $19.00

Soljans ‘Tribute’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Malbec 2016

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, even, dark ruby-red colour with black hues, a little paler on the rim. The nose is elegant and softly packed with harmoniously interwoven aromas of ripe black plums and blackberries along with an amalgam of nutty oak, dark herbs and earthy complexities. This is soft in expression, showing finesse. Medium-bodied, the palate has deep and densely packed flavours of lively and vibrant blackberry fruit along with notes of blackcurrants and black plums. This has a taut core that unfolds dark herbs, earth and nutty oak. The palate has a positive line with fine-grained tannin extraction and fresh acidity adding to the lusciousness. The wine carries to a sweet and refreshing, lingering finish. This is a densely packed lively and vibrant Merlot/Malbec, with dark plum and berry flavours with curranty notes on a structured, fresh palate. Match with slow-cooked game meats over the next 6-8 years. A barrel selection wine and a tribute to three generations of winemakers: Bartul Soljan from 1927, Frank Soljan from 1937 and Tony Soljan from 1960. Hawke’s Bay fruit, a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Malbec, fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 18-24 months in 40% new French oak barriques. 18.0+/20 Aug 2018 RRP $40.00

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