Featured Reviews

Stonecroft 2018 ‘Crofters’ and ‘Undressed’, and 2016 ‘Reserve’ Syrahs

12 November,2018

When Dermot McCollum and Andria Monin purchased the Stonecroft winegrowing business from the Limmer family, they took on the mantle of continuing one of the pioneering and top wineries in the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay, as well as tending some of this country’s oldest Syrah vines, based on cuttings from the Te Kauwhata Research Station. The vines are now 34 y.o., planted in 1984, and the MS clone has been propagated to become the best performing Syrah clone producing arguably the finest Syrah wines in the country.

McCollum and Monin have revitalised the brand, added a third vineyard (the former Mills Reef ‘Trust’ vineyard) which they call the ‘Fernhill’ vineyard with 3.6 ha of vines to their existing holdings of the home ‘Mere Road’ vineyard of 3 ha, and the ‘Roys Hill’ vineyard of 3.5 ha. They gained AsureQuality organic certification in 2013, and in my opinion, generally raised the standards of the wines. The owners live on Roys Hill and are fully intimate with all aspects of the business, but keep the production tight and controlled, making up to only 3,000 cases of wine annually. Although making a range of excellent wines, the Syrah is the star. Here, I review the 2018 ‘Crofters’ and ‘Undressed’, and 2016 ‘Reserve’ Syrahs, the latter the flagship. There is also the super-premium ‘The Original’ Syrah, made twice to date. www.stonecroft.co.nz


Stonecroft ‘Crofters’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2018

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Moderately dark purple-hued ruby-red colour with good depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly fresh with gently fragrant aromas of blackberry fruit and raspberries, along with subtle notes of fresh herbs, violet florals and a harmonious amalgam of black and white pepper. Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant in proportion with a fine, tight core with flavours of raspberries and blackberries, along with red and violet florals, and white and black pepper. A little herbal detail shows. The fruit is juicy and lush, and balanced by light, supple tannin extraction and some acid freshness, and the wine flows with good linearity to an elegant, lingering finish of raspberries and pepper. This is an elegant, fruit-driven Syrah with raspberry and blackberry fruit, white and black pepper and floral notes on a supple palate. Match with Middle Eastern and Asian fare over the next 3-4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the three estate vineyards, indigenous yeast fermented to 12.0% alc., with 50% of the wine aged 5 months in French oak barrels. 1,000 cases made. Certified AsureQuality organic. 17.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $24.00

Stonecroft ‘Undressed’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2018

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Even, dark purple-hued ruby-red colour, lighter on the edge, very youthful in appearance. This has a moderately concentrated, rounded nose with a good core of ripe blackberry fruit and dark raspberry aromas, building to show penetrating black and white pepper elements, hints of liquorice and savoury spices. Medium-bodied, the palate has a softly concentrated, deep heart of ripe blackberry fruit with notes of raspberries and plums, entwined with black pepper and liquorice detail, savoury spices and a little earthiness. The fruit has good weight and mouthfeel, forming a solid palate, and is supported by fine-grained tannin structure. The wine carries plenty of grip to a long, textured finish with acid liveliness. This is a deep and rounded Syrah with ripe blackberry, raspberry and plum fruit with pepper, spices and earthy interest on a grainy structured palate with good grip. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison, and semi-hard cheeses over the next 5-7 years. A barrel selection wine. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Mere Road’ vineyard fermented to 12.0% alc., the wine spending 2-3 weeks on skins post ferment and aged 5 months in 20% new French oak with no additions of sulphur during vinification or at bottling. Certified AsureQuality organic. 17.5+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $31.00

Stonecroft ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Even, dark, deep ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is softly full and voluminous, initially a little restrained, but unfolding to show ripe blackberry fruit entwined with black plums and dark raspberries, with liquorice and Asian spices, revealing black pepper and soft violet floral detail. This is stylishly concentrated. Medium-bodied, the palate is deeply concentrated with densely packed flavours of rich, ripe blackberry fruit with notes of black and red plums, dark raspberries and violet floral elements. A layer of black pepper, Asian spices and iron-earth minerals add complexity. The fruit is melded with very fine-grained flowery tannin structure with integrated acidity, and the fruit flavours blossom with lusciousness, carrying to a long, concentrated finish. This is rich, elegantly concentrated Syrah with blackberry and plum fruit, along with spices, florals and complex iron-earth notes on a very fine-grained, but considerably structured palate. Match with casseroles and roasted game meat over the next 10 years. A selection of the best barrels from the vintage. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Mere Road’ and ‘Roys Hill’ sites, fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 2-3 weeks on skins post ferment and aged 20 months in 40% new French oak barriques. 110 cases made. Ceritfied AsureQuality organic. 19.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $60.00

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