Elephant Hill 2016 Salome Chardonnay, and 2014 Airavata Syrah and Hieronymus


With the release of the ‘Icon’ wines from Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay saw the arrival of a new winegrower operating at the top level. Setting up Elephant Hill in 2003, Roger and Reydan Weiss had the ambitions to make outstanding wine. They planted 24 ha of vines at Te Awanga and hired Steve Skinner as their winemaker. The first wines from the 2007 vintage were noteworthy for their quality, but the following ‘Icon’ releases showed that there was the potential to make great Hawke’s Bay and indeed New Zealand wine in the blended red and Syrah categories. To ensure that the potential would be realised, Elephant Hill began drawing fruit from a Bridge Pa Triangle vineyard they entered into a long-term lease with the owners at the end of 2011. And the company purchased the former ‘Two Gates’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels. The three vineyards gave the ability to choose and blend the best fruit from three distinct and different sub-regions.

Winemaker Steve Skinner reckons that it has only been from the 2013 vintage that the ‘Icon’ wines are where he wants them. At the end of November 2015, I rated the 2013 ‘Airavata’ Syrah at 19.5+/20 and the 2013 ‘Hieronymus’ Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec a perfect 20.0/20 (click here to see my reviews). At the end of last month, I was given a preview tasting of the new ‘Icon’ wines, and also a set of the three wines to take home and conduct ‘Feature Reviews’ on for their release. They included a new ‘Icon’ wine, the 2016 ‘Salome’ Chardonnay, made only from Te Awanga fruit which shines on fruit purity and place rather than funkiness, plus the stupendous 2014 ‘Airavata’ Syrah and 2014 ‘Hieronymus’ Merlot/Malbec-based blend. I’ve adjusted my score on the 2014 ‘Hieronymus’ to 20.0/20 – it is simply opulent and gorgeously perfect. The wines are now released, and here are my reviews. www.elephanthill.co.nz


  • Elephant Hill ‘Salomé’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
  • Elephant Hill ‘Airavata’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014
  • Elephant Hill ‘Hieronymus’ Hawke’s Bay 2014

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