While I enjoy practically all of the regional wine exhibition events, the Hot Red Hawke’s Bay is possibly the most interesting, exciting and satisfying for me. It’s more about the range of wine styles that are successfully done as well as what is emerging and innovative.
You can’t deny that Chardonnay and the Bordeaux varieties from Hawke’s Bay are this country’s most successful, with the longest and most consistent track record. New on the scene varieties that are pretty well accepted as mainstream, and representing the best in New Zealand are Viognier and Syrah. These are certainly stars for Hawke’s Bay. And making inroads are the aromatic varieties Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, as well as Pinot Noir for aromatic reds. As producers obtain fruit from the cooler coastal, higher altitude or inland sites that deem to favour such styles and varieties, Hawke’s Bay will release more excellent wines.
Sauvignon Blanc is the perennial problem. It just can’t foot it with South Island examples when it comes to exuberant fruity styles. But the proven wood-influenced, textural and riper versions which offer great versatility with a wide range of cuisine just haven’t been pushed enough, despite superb examples such as Sacred Hill’s ‘Sauvage’ and Te Mata ‘Cape Crest’.
Trialling the Italian and Spanish red grapes such as Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Tempranillo seem the be as promising as anywhere else if not better, sharing the honours of success so far with Waiheke Island and Northland.
There is much excitement indeed with the developments and continuance in the Hawke’s Bay wine scene. That is why attending the ‘Hot Red Hawke’s Bay Wine Expo’ is such a joy, and arguably a necessity to keep abreast of the new things on the New Zealand wine scene. 2012 marks the ninth expo, and the organisers are holding tastings for trade and media, as well as general public in Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Auckland on Friday 1 June, Tuesday 12 June and Tuesday 31 July respectively. Over 100 wines from over 20 exhibitors can be tasted. And the cost of $35.00 pp for tickets is a bargain.