Elephant Hill 2014 ‘Estate’ and ‘Reserve’ Merlot/Malbec and Syrah

Although established only 15 years ago, with a first vintage in 2007, Elephant Hill has made impressive progress to join the leading group of producers in Hawke’s Bay. Much of this is the free rein that winemaker Steve Skinner has been given in his task to make great wine. Another significant factor is the vineyard resource expanded from the original coastal Te Awanga plantings to include sites on differing soils and warmer climate inland. The 23.5 ha Te Awanga site was established in vines in 2003, but the composition has changed, and now there are no red Bordeaux varieties there. In 2011, Elephant Hill purchased their 18 ha Gimblett Gravels site and 15 ha Bridge Pa Triangle vineyard, both with vines established in 2001 expressly for Bordeaux style and Syrah production. This required replanting a portion of the latter vineyard. Steve and his viticultural team were already quite familiar with the characteristics of the Gimblett Gravels site, but the Bridge Pa vineyard is still new to them in terms of performance. Talking to Steve, the company’s Syrah programme is a particular passion, and already, some superb wines have been made.

As is generally recognised in Hawke’s Bay with the 2014 vintage, and in comparison with the outstanding 2013, Elephant Hill sees 2014 as another outstanding season. It was warmer than 2013, and all the earlier ripening red varieties such as Merlot and Syrah, along with Malbec and Cabernet Franc can be deemed superior this year, especially at Elephant Hill. In 2013, it was Cabernet Sauvignon’s year. It was with this in mind that Steve Skinner and marketer Vince Labat introduced the 2014 ‘Estate’ and ‘Reserve’ Merlot/Malbec blend and Syrah wines to compare and review. Steve pointed out that the two ranges differ in philosophy, the ‘Estate’ to show accessibility on release, and the ‘Reserve’ made in an ageworthy style to perform well internationally. The base for the style differentiation is on fruit selection at vineyard, and each parcel guided and treated accordingly to achieve the desired style. Here, I review the wines. The will be released on 1st October. www.elephanthill.co.nz


  • Elephant Hill Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Malbec 2014
  • Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Elephant Hill Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014
  • Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014

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