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Featured Reviews

Vidal 2017 ‘Soler’ Chardonnay and 2016 ‘Legacy’ Syrah and Cabernet Merlot

12 July,2018

I chose Vidal Estate as my ‘Winery of the Year’ in 2017 primarily because of the leadership the company was showing in the crafting of contemporary Chardonnay and outstanding Syrah wines and those made from the Bordeaux varieties. The wines that stood out were the flagship ‘Legacy’ range, but these were supported by wonderful bottlings in the ‘Reserve’ tier (click here to see my article). The man guiding the direction of the style of the Vidal Estate wines is Hugh Crichton, with the company since 2004, but he would be the first to give credit to the experience and advice of the combined team of viticulturists and winemakers who work together under the Villa Maria umbrella.

I went to visit Hugh Crichton at the new ‘super Villa Maria’ winery being built on the Te Awa site in the Gimblett Gravels at the end of April (click here to see my report), and he was at pains to point out that the fruit sources ear-marked for each label, from super-premium right down to the everyday wines was kept separate, as they had been before the winery was built. So much reflects the fruit origins of the wines, and these are special vineyards, mainly, but not necessarily situated in the Gimblett Gravels. Here, I review three new Vidal Estate wines, a 2017 ‘Soler’ Chardonnay, this being a new tier sited between the ‘Legacy’ and ‘Reserve’ ranges, plus the 2016 ‘Legacy’ Gimblett Gravels Syrah and Cabernet/Merlot. These are due for release in August.


Vidal ‘Soler’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is full and voluminous with good depth of softly-packed complex aromas of white stonefruits harmoniously layered with an amalgam of citrus fruits, nuances of gunflint and minerals, and a little nutty oak. There is a deep core to the aromatics. Medium-bodied, the palate has a rounded and well-concentrated heart of white stonefruits interwoven with nutty and mealy notes, and some flinty, minerally reduction adding to the complexity. The flavours gently open to fill the palate, and flow along a light-textured line with soft, lacy acidity lending energy. This has good drive and some underlying power, and the wine carries to a long, sustained finish of stonefruits, nuts and flint. This is a rounded, well-concentrated Chardonnay with complex white stonefruit, nutty, and flinty mineral flavours on a palate with power and drive. Match with poultry, pork and veal over the next 4 years. Fruit from the ‘Kokako’ vineyard, Ohiti Valley, vines planted in 2008, fully barrel-fermented, partially by indigenous yeasts to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 40% new oak with batonnage, and approx. 15-20% undergoing MLF. 400 dozen made. 18.5/20 Jul 2018 RRP $35.99

Vidal ‘Legacy’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Dark, deep, near impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter edged. The nose full and broad with harmoniously concentrated and layered aromas showing ripe blackberries and black plums along with dark raspberries, liquorice and fragrant Asian spices, unfolding a little black pepper and iron-earth notes. The aromatics grow in depth and density with aeration, and is quite complete. Medium-full bodied, the palate has richly sweet, plush and juicy, vibrant and poised flavours of ripe blackberries and plums with notes of dark raspberries and liquorice, forming a tight and deeply packed core. Layers of exotic Asian spices, dark herbs, violet florals, pepper and iron-earth emerge. The fruit is supported by considerable fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction and structure with integrated acidity adding to the richness. The flavours carry to a very long, sustained, vibrant finish. This is a beautifully rich and lusciously vibrant Syrah with ripe and complex flavours of black fruits, spices, florals and earth on a well-structrured, fine-grained palate. Match with roasted game meat dishes over the next 7-10+ years. Waldron and MS clone fruit, 50% each from the ‘Omahu Gravels’ and ‘Twyford Gravels’ sites, vines 18 y.o., hand-picked and fully destemmed and fermented with a small portion of whole berries to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 20 months in 43% new French oak barriques. 350 dozen made. 19.5/20 Jul 2018 RRP $74.99

Vidal ‘Legacy’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2016

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Dark, deep, near impenetrable black-hued ruby-red colour with youthful purple tints. The nose is beautifully proportioned with concentrated and intensely penetrating aromas of ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some cassis liqueur, and fragrant dark-red and black plum fruit interwoven with subtle notes of redcurrants and herbs. This has finesse, intensity and beauty. Medium-full bodied, the palate is well-proportioned with deep and intense flavours of ripe blackberry, blackcurrant, and black plum fruit unfolding subtly complexing pencilly oak and iron-earth elements. The fruit forms a deep and tightly bound, dense core with very fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction providing plenty of structure. Soft, lacy acidity lends energy. The wine has excellent drive and carries to an elegant, sustained finish. This is a wonderfully proportioned Cabernet/Merlot with deep and intense flavours of ripe blackberries, blackcurrant and plums with fine oak and iron-earth detail on a fine-grained palate with plenty of extract. Match with roast lamb, beef and venison over the next 8-10+ years. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot from the ‘Omahu Gravels’ and ‘Te Awa’ sites, the fruit fermented to 13.5% alc., and aged 20 months in 60% new French oak barriques. 250 dozen made. 19.5-/20 Jul 2018 RRP $64.99

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