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Featured Reviews

Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

18 September,2017
Trinity Hill’s ‘Homage’ Syrah is regarded as arguably the finest Syrah made in this country. Its peers include Church Road ‘TOM’, Craggy Range ‘Le Sol; Elephant Hill ‘Airavata’, Esk Valley ‘Winemakers Reserve’, Sacred Hill ‘Deerstalkers’, Te Mata ‘Bullnose’, Vidal ‘Legacy’ and Villa Maria ‘Reserve; in my books, and this is fine company indeed. I must admit that if I was to choose the best, it would be the Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ partly due to its track record going back to 2002, its particularly strong and complex character and structure, and the continual evolution of the style to greater finesse. The others are also on this path, but Trinity Hill is at the forefront.

The wine was commissioned as a tribute to Gerard Jaboulet of Paul Jaboulet Aine, who Trinity Hill’s founding winemaker John Hancock worked vintage for in 1996. Paul Jaboulet Aine makes the iconic ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage, which still serves as an inspiration for Trinity Hill. The 2015 Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ is the ninth release of the label, being preceded by the 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007. 2009, 2010, 2013 (which I rated 20.0/20, click here to see my review), and the 2014. The 2015 marks an unprecedented three consecutive vintage release of the wine, reflecting the outstanding Hawke’s bay growing seasons in those years.

The wine is, of course, made from the finest fruit. Originally this was solely from the company’s original Gimblett Gravels vines planted in 1995. These vines originated from cuttings from the neighbouring ‘Stonecroft’ vineyard, the ancestry of which is theorised to be the Busby ‘Hermitage’ vines of 1832, brought from Europe. These ‘Mass Selection’ vines were 20 y.o. for the 2015 vintage. This fruit has now been supplemented with new clonal material, the vines now proven to provide suitable quality for ‘Homage’. The 2013 employed Syrah from Roys Hill, technically outside the Gimblett Gravels, hence the ‘Hawke’s Bay’ nomenclature. But only Gimblett Gravels fruit was used for the 2014 and 2015.

It will be fascinating to compare the 2013, 2014 and 2015 ‘Homage’ Syrahs in the coming years. 2013 was touted the best Hawke’s Bay vintage to date, and the wines from this year are classical with brilliant acidity and vitality allied to wonderful ripeness. I see the 2013 ‘Homage’ having slightly greater complexity than the 2014, a product of an even warmer vintage than 2013, yielding wines of greater opulence and accessibility. The feature of the 2014 for me was its outstanding purity. Trinity Hill winemaker Warren Gibson sees the 2015 as "plusher than the previous two vintages” which particularly suits the U.S. market. I agree with Warren’s description of the 2015, adding that it has incredible aromatic floral intensity as its hallmark. It is my highest scored ‘Feature Review’ Syrah this year. My review of the 2015 follows.


Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Full, dark, deep ruby-red colour with purple-black hues, near impenetrable. The nose has incredibly intense and penetrating aromas of ripe blackberry fruit with subtle dark raspberry and blue fruit notes, lifted by an array of red, violet and black florals, melded with fine spice elements and a suggestion of black pepper. The aromatic components are seamlessly interwoven and harmonious in presentation. Medium-full bodied, the palate is richly sweet and succulent with ripe, vibrant and lively fruit flavours of blackberries entwined with dark-red and blue fruit notes, along with dark-red, violet and black florals, melded with notes of liquorice, spice and black pepper forming a complex amalgam. The fruit is fine and beautifully concentrated with intensity and depth, the lusciousness balanced by considerable extraction, the tannins very fine-grained and flowery in texture. The acidity is ripe, and softly integrated, and the wine carries with great linearity and drive to a long and sustained finish of black fruits, florals and spices. This Syrah has a remarkably intense and perfumed nose with a beautiful array of floral aromatics, on a rich, succulently sweet black, red and blue fruited palate with considerable, but refined extraction. Match with slow-cooked game meat and Middle Eastern fare over the next 10 years. Hand-picked fruit from sites in the Gimblett Gravels at a crop level of approx. 35 hL//ha, the different lots fermented with an approx. average of 25% whole bunches (some batches up to 100% whole bunch) to 13.1% alc., the wine spending on average 25 days on skins, and aged 15 months in approx. 60% new French oak, predominantly in barriques as well as large format 5000 L oak ovals. 19.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $130.00
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