The Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association has announced their fifth release of the ‘Annual Vintage Selection’. This is the top dozen red wines from the Gimblett Gravels sub-region of Hawke’s Bay as assessed by Andrew Caillard MW of Sydney. The Annual Vintage Selection is a most illuminating collection as it offers a snapshot of some of the very best wines from a geographically and geologically defined district from one vintage.
2012 was a particularly challenging vintage in Hawke’s Bay with a very cool growing season marked by a number of rain events. The impression many critics and consumers have now is of a dismal vintage across the board. However, as with any vintage, there are wines which over and under-perform for any multitude of reasons and causes, and in 2012, there are many wines of very high quality deserving of attention and recognition. The Gimblett Gravels has its fair share of such wines, and the Annual Vintage Selection highlights some, from the perspective of an internationally recognised and authoritative critic.
The Annual Vintage Selection was initiated with wines from the 2008 vintage, and Andrew Caillard MW has been the independent selector for all five selections to date. The selections indicate the relative strengths of the Blended Reds compared to the Syrahs. For the 2012 vintage, there are 5 Blended Reds based on Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and 7 Syrah wines, suggesting a stronger performance with the latter wines in the cooler growing season. For the warmer 2011 vintage selection, there were 8 Bordeaux-varietal wines and 4 Syrahs (click here to see my review of a tasting of the wines). 2010 had 9 Bordeaux-styled wines and 3 Syrahs, somewhat surprising for a cooler year, and there were 8 Bordeaux-varietal wines with 4 Syrahs for 2009. For the inaugural 2008 selection there were 5 Bordeaux-styled wines and 7 Syrahs, the year being a cooler one.
Andrew Caillard MW commented on the 2012 selections “there were many fragrant expressive wines with generous fruit complexity and underlying savoury nuances” and that the very “best wines possessed mid-palate richness and volume”.
Following are the wines in 2012 Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintage Selection. The wines are listed alphabetically in their category. www.gimblettgravels.com
Blended Reds (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon dominant)
Alluviale Merlo/Cabernet Sauvignon
Babich ‘The Patriarch’
Unison’Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
Craggy Range ‘Gimblett Gravels Vineyard’
Mission Estate ‘Reserve’
Sacred Hill ‘Deerstalkers’
Squawking Magpie ‘Stoned Crow’
Trinity Hill ‘Gimblett Gravels’
Villa Maria ‘Reserve’