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Featured Reviews

Theory & Practice 2017 Chardonnay, and 2016 Merlot and Syrah

24 May,2018

Ant Mackenzie is in the process of consolidating his brands after a fairly rapid period of growth, not only in production, but in commercialisation. That said, there continues to be growth. With his sourcing of more Chardonnay fruit, from ‘Oak Estate’ (the former ‘Salvare’ vineyard), Ant has called for assistance from his brother, a viticulturist, in managing the crop.

His ‘Theory & Practice’ wines are made in partnership with other growers and winemakers, where he highlights the best qualities of the region of origin in a contemporary style. You could read into that he has a degree of free rein to push towards certain styles that he thinks will work well with the fruit. Hence the name ‘Theory & Practice’. Here, I review three of his latest wines under the ‘Theory & Practice’ label.


Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full with good depth and concentration of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits with notes of tropical fruits, harmoniously entwined with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak, melded with some buttery MLF notes. Medium-bodied, the palate is rounded and rich with integrated flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and tropical fruits, subtle citrus fruit elements, along with creamy and nutty oak, alongside buttery MLF. The mouthfeel is smooth and seamless, and the wine flows easily, opening to fill the palate and carrying to a rich, plush and flavoursome finish. This is a rich and plush Chardonnay with stonefruit and tropical fruit melded with creamy and nutty oak on a seamlessly smooth-flowing palate. Match with roasted poultry and pork over the next 4+ years. Mendoza, and clones 15, 95 and 809 from the ‘Craft Farm’, ‘Askerne’, ‘Alchemy’ and ‘Oak Estate’ vineyards, three-quarters hand-picked and WBP, barrel-fermented partially by indigenous yeasts to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 30% new French oak, undergoing MLF. 18.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $24.95

Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2016

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, lighter edged. The nose is elegant in proportion with fresh and vibrantly bright, fragrant aromas of dark-red berry and plum fruit along with subtle notes of dark herbs. This is softly fragrant with an amalgam of red floral nuances, herbs and earthy detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate is finely presented with very good intensity of bright dark-red berry and plum fruit. The flavours show vitality with aromatic red floral and dark herb elements adding lift. The fruit is gently sweet and succulent, and is balanced by fine-grained tannin extraction and structure, forming an elegant heart. The juicy fruit flavours carry to a lingering finish. This is an elegantly presented Merlot with bright, vibrant and aromatic dark-red berry and plum fruit with floral and herb detail on a fine-structured palate. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison over the next 5-6+ years. A blend of 85% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon from three sites in Bridge Pa, the fruit hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented to 135% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 40% new French oak. 18.5/20 May 2018 RRP $24.95

Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Even, moderately dark ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly proportioned with moderate depth and concentration of blackberry and dark raspberry fruit along with black pepper notes, nuances of spice and violet florals, and hints of complexing savoury reductive minerals. Medium-bodied, the palate is taut with a tightly bound core of finely concentrated flavours of blackberries and dark raspberries, along with savoury black pepper notes, hints of spice and a little reductive detail. The mouthfeel is bright and lively, the fruit sweetness underlined by fine-grained tannin extraction with balanced acid freshness. The flavours carry to an elegant, lingering finish. This is an elegant and tightly bound Syrah with blackberry and dark raspberry flavours along with savoury black pepper, spice, floral and reductive notes on affine-textured, fresh palate. Match with slow-cooked game meat and casseroles over the next 5 years. Chave and MS clone Syrah from the ‘Stewart’ and ‘Lyons’ vineyards, Bridge Pa, hand-picked and destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 20 months in 20% new French oak barrels. 18.0+/20 May 2018 RRP $24.95

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