Elephant Hill 2014 and 2013 ‘Reserve’ Releases
Elephant Hill has quickly grown since its establishment in 2003 to become the consummate contemporary Hawke’s Bay wine producer with an output of 22,000 cases of wine that shows the breadth and depth of Hawke’s Bay as a growing region, offering value, but also wines that rival the very best made in the region. Based in the coastal district of Te Awanga, with vineyards, cellar door, award-winning restaurant and modern 450 tonne capacity winery, Elephant Hill also has vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels and the Bridge Pa Triangle to ensure full and balanced blending options to achieve the ideal styles of wine.
The maritime-influenced ‘Te Awanga Vineyard’ is 25 ha and is planted to Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer on clay and loam soils, over deep beds of free-draining river shingle. The company’s ‘Gimblett Vineyard’ is the warmest of the holdings, with 17 ha planted to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc on deep river gravels left by the Ngaruroro River. The ‘Triangle Vineyard’ in the Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District is also 17 ha, planted to Syrah, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec and Tempranillo on ‘Red Metal’ soils, a layer of silt loam over river-deposited gravels with a reddish hue. All three vineyards are just over 10 years old, but have had replanting to supplement the established vines.
Winemaker Steve Skinner is assisted by Jack Cornes, and the viticultural responsibility is to the care of John Peet. Gunther Thies, the managing director, and owners Reydan and Roger Weiss are extremely pleased with these latest 2014 and 2013 ‘Reserve’ wines, a forward step for the company, being the produce of superior vintages. During a visit to Elephant Hill in November last year, I had a preview of the two 2013 reds. They were very impressive then (click here to see my report). I review them along with two whites here. www.elephanthill.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 22-Jul-2015Bright, very pale straw-colour, near colourless on rim. The nose is expressive of finesse, with elegantly and tightly bound, delicate aromas of green stonefruits interwoven with soft herbs, wet-stone minerals, unveiling sweet gooseberry fruit and rainwater suggestions. Dry and medium-bodied, the palate is refined in proportion with a soft, mouthwatering core of gooseberries, green stonefruits, white florals and minerals. The mouthfeel is smooth in texture and flow, building is subtle sweetness, with soft, ripe acidity lending energy and drive. The palate possesses a fine, linear core that carries the flavours to a soft, sustained, minerally finish. This is a subtle, refined dry sauvignon Blanc with delicate richness and mouthwatering minerality. Serve with seafood and herb-marinated poultry dishes over the next 2-3+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the stoniest block of the ‘Te Awanga’ estate vineyard from vines planted in 2003, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented, 50% in seasoned puncheons and 50% in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 2.5 g/L RS, the wine aged 8 months on lees in 3 y.o. oak. 18.0/20 Jul 2015 RRP $35.00
Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013Chardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 22-Jul-2015The second release of a ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay, the fruit from the ‘Te Awanga’ estate vineyard from vines planted in 2003. 84% clone 15 and 16% clone 95, hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 30% new oak with MLF and batonnage, the wine aged a further 5 months on lees in tank. Brilliant straw-yellow colour with pale lemon-gold hues. This has a full and powerfully packed nose with deep layers of complex gunflint sulphide reduction intermixed with white stonefruits and minerals, showing some nutty and toast detail in support. The aromatics are direct and show with great clarity and depth. Medium-full bodied, mouthfilling flavours of gunflint and minerals unfold an array of detail with white stonefruits, nuts, oak and toast. The fruit is rich and has a subtle barrel-ferment creaminess and unctuousness, along with plenty of power and drive at the core. Rounded, ripe acidity adds to the presence and liveliness, and the wine carries to a succulent, concentrated and lingering finish of flint, stonefruits and minerals. This is a full, rich, concentrated Chardonnay with complex gunflint, stonefruit and minerally flavours. Match with most white meat dishes over the next 4-5+ years. 19.0-/20 Jul 2015 RRP $45.00
Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2013Merlot from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 22-Jul-2015Full, impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues on rim. The nose is very rich and intensely concentrated with aromas of ripe black berry, blackcurrant and plum fruits, still very fresh, vibrantly lifted and primary in expression, revealing black mineral, iron-earth and fragrant black, blue and violet florals. The fruit has opulence, and is complexed by a fine piquant herbal line which unfolds subtle cedary oak detail with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate features a richly concentrated palate with intense, deep, ripe flavours of blackcurrants, black plum and berried fruits. The sweetness is enhanced by acid vibrancy and vitality, and lifted by floral and herbal elements. Very fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction provides significant structure, mouthfeel presence and linearity, and carries the wine, revealing iron-earth and cedary oak notes on a very long, lingering finish. This is a very rich, concentrated and ripe, youthful sweet-fruited Merlot/Cabernet blend with fine-grained structure. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison over the next 10+ years. A blend of 64% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec, 78% from the company’s ‘Gimblett Vineyard’ and 22% from the ‘Triangle Vineyard’, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 15 months in 40% new French oak. 19.0/20 Jul 2015 RRP $49.00