Elephant Hill – the Estate range and their newest team members
Elephant Hill was established by the Weiss family in 2003 and released its first vintage since 2007. Over a relatively short period of time they’ve become one of the most highly respected producers of Hawke’s Bay wine.
Elephant Hill’s home vineyards are based in the cooler Te Awanga coastal region of Hawke’s Bay and they also own sites in the warmer inland areas of the Bridge Pa Triangle and the Gimblett Gravels, to give them a range of fruit options for making their preferred wine styles with balance and integrated character. They also produce a Central Otago Pinot Noir in their Estate range. I found that it has a Hawke's Bay winemaking influence – it’s quite grunty in style, which especially shows in the tannin structure.
There have been a few changes to the team at Elephant Hill in the last while. Hugh Crichton has recently been appointed as Elephant Hill Head Winemaker, replacing Steve Skinner, who was the Head Winemaker at Elephant Hill for 15 years and who developed the style and uncompromised quality Elephant Hill wines are recognised for. Hugh also has a great reputation from his 16 years spent establishing Vidal Estate (part of Villa Maria group) and is known as a winemaker who produces wines that truly reflect the region and vineyards where the grapes are grown, especially with the Legacy Chardonnay, which left quite an impression. I look forward to seeing his mark on Elephant Hill.
Other recent appointments include Andrew Vintiner, Operations & Logistics Manager and Simon Swa, General Manager Sales & Marketing, joining head winemaker Hugh Crichton and all led by Andreas Weiss, CEO. I will keep an eye out for the changes to come at Elephant Hill in the next few years.
Here I’ve reviewed the four latest release wines from their Estate range: Tempranillo Rosé 2019; Sauvignon Blanc 2018; Le Phant Rouge 2018; and Pinot Noir 2019 from Central Otago. Elephant Hill always exceeds delivery of their price points, with age-worthiness, especially for Le Phant Rouge.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Elephant Hill Tempranillo Rosé 2019, Hawke’s BayRosé from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 06-May-2021Brilliant, pale peach-pink, even colour throughout. The nose is gently full with nuances of strawberries and red berries, entwined with subtle florals, spices and mealy complexity. Medium-bodied, red berries, pomegranate leading the palate with a hint of citrus, zesty spices and subtle floral fragrance added interest, the finish linger with a meaty essence. The wine has a fine-textured phenolic line, flow with mouthwatering acidity to a crisp, dry finish. This is a bright and thirst-quenching red-fruited rosé with zesty spices on a fine-textured, refreshing palate. Match with antipasto over the next 2-3 years. 100% tempranillo sourced from Bridge Pa vineyard, whole bunch pressed, spent 1 hour on skins, fermented in stainless steel to 12.5% alc and on lees for 6 months. 18/20 pts (90 pts) May 2021 RRP $24
Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Hawke’s BaySauvignon Blanc from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 06-May-2021Bright, pale yellow with a green hue, even colour throughout. The nose is fresh and herbaceous, softly penetrating an amalgam of citrus, fresh-cut grass, hints of dried herb and dried wildflower. Medium-bodied, beautifully fine-textured phenolic flows on an energic acid line with aromas of green apple, citrus and zest, interweave dried wildflower, hay and herbs with good depth. A touch of flinty mineral carries to linearity. The wine possesses an ethereal texture from zesty phenolics as well as a lees-aged creaminess. Salivating acidity leads to food suggestion of kingfish crudo and oysters, enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Fruit sourced from Te Awanga vineyard, whole bunch pressed and fermented with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tank to 12.6% alc, aged on fine lees for 4 months. 18+/20 pts (91 pts) May 2021 RRP $22
Elephant Hill Le Phant Rouge 2018, Hawke’s BayBlended Red from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 06-May-2021Deep, inky ruby-red with a purple hue, slightly lighter on the rim. The nose is packed with intensity, mealy aromas of ripe plums, blackberries, entwined with minty herbs, cedar and spice development. Medium-full bodied, nuances of dark plums, blackberries have concentration and depth, cedar unfolds along with cloves, nutmeg spices and rich herbs. The warming palate has ample tannin extraction, fine-grained and savoury, contributed to the body and grip. The ripeness of fruit density and oak complexity grows with a hint of dark chocolate attraction, left a mealy finish. This is a succulent red blend with brilliant ripeness and concentration, oak details and cedar interest at an amazing value. Match with grilled marbling meat and meat stew over the next 6-8 years. Fruit sourced from 80% Gimblett Gravels, 20% Bridge Pa, predominately Merlot and Malbec, destemmed, fermented in open-top steel cuves over 14 days to 13% alc, aged in oak for 12 months. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) May 2021 RRP $26
Elephant Hill Pinot Noir 2019, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 06-May-2021Dark, even ruby-red with some transparency. The nose is gentle with broody aromas of ripe fruit, a mixture of red and dark berries, cherries and a hint of sweet herbs. Medium-full bodied, nuances of red berry fruit underlined dark cherries, subtle seasoning from spicy oak and a touch of herb unveiled, ample fine-grained tannin added savouriness and linger to a dry, herbaceous finish. The tannin structure is bold and broad on the palate, lends a drying mouthfeel; brilliant acidity lengthens the finish. Match with braised pork leg and lamb ribs over the next 3-5 years. Fruit was destemmed, cold-soaked for 4 days, fermented to 14.2% alc, aged in French oak for 11 months, 30% new oak. 18.5-/20 pts (92 pts) May 2021 RRP $36