Elephant Hill – The Icons and The Elements 2019/ 2020 Releases
Elephant Hill was established by the Weiss family in 2003 and released its first vintage in 2007. Since its inception, Elephant Hill has aspired to produce wines of the highest quality and set itself to become one of the most highly reputed producers in Hawke's Bay.
Elephant Hill's special parcels of 2019 reds and 2020 Chardonnays are set to release this November, a couple of incredible vintages in Hawke's Bay; winemaker Hugh Crichton believes they will go down as truly great years. The Element range SEA, STONE and EARTH represent Te Awanga, Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle, respectively. Sourcing grapes from a single sub-region to highlight the special expressions of the unique climate and soils.
The Icon range highlights the best of the Elements with similar winemaking processes. The Salome Chardonnay 2020 is 100% clone 15 from Sea Vineyard (Te Awanga); Hieronymus 2019 is 99% Stone Vineyard (Gimblett Gravels) and 1% Earth Vineyard (Bridge Pa Triangle), a blend of 60% cabernet Sauvignon clone 10, 29% Cabernet Franc clone 326 and 11% Merlot clone 181. Lastly, Airavata Syrah 2019 is 71% Stone Vineyard (Gimblett Gravels) MS clone and 29% Earth Vineyard (Bridge Pa Triangle) clone 470.
As always, it's a pleasure and pure indulgence tasting these.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Elephant Hill Sea Chardonnay 2020, Hawke’s BayChardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 18-Oct-2022Bright, pale straw yellow with a faint green sheen, even colour throughout. The nose is elegantly full, with power, citrus, stonefruit and hazelnut aromas interweaving, underlying pastry and creamy lees. Full-bodied, aromas of lemon curd, apricot and a suggestion of pineapple enriched by roasted hazelnut, pastry and delicate spice. The wine is powerful with weight, tension, and quality new oak provides an unctuous mouthfeel and lends a sweet-fruited, long finish. This Chardonnay shows tension from the Te Awanga coastal influence and a powerful palate with new oak and sweet fruit. Will benefit from further ageing. Serve decanted and match with roast guinea fowl and crayfish mornay over the next 8+ years. 100% fruit from Sea vineyard in Te Awanga, 88% clone 15 & 12% clone 95, whole bunch pressed to barrel, naturally fermented to 14% alc, partial MLF, aged 18 months on light lees, 12 months in barrel, 25% new oak and 6 months in tank. 575 cases produced. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) Oct 2022 RRP $59
Elephant Hill Stone Merlot 2019, Hawke’s BayMerlot from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 18-Oct-2022Deep, full ruby-red, lighter on the rim. The nose is gently growing in volume, with aromas of cigar, overlying plum, red berry, herb and spice. Medium-full bodied, aromas of plum and red berry have a savoury edge, unfolding clove, nutmeg, cigar leaf and blackcurrant leaf. The fruit is dense and enlivened by lively acidity; ripe, smooth, grainy tannins reflect dark minerals and carry on to a long, dry finish. This elegant Merlot possesses a dark mineral backbone with red fruit and cigar spice on a fine tannin palate. Match with flank steak and meat stew over the next 6-8 years. Fruit from 98% Stone vineyard in Gimblett Gravels, 2% Earth vineyard in Bridge Pa, 91% clone 181 Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, inoculated & natural fermentation, 14% alc, and spring natural MLF. Aged 30 months on light lees in total, 22 months in barrel, 38% new oak and 8 months in tank. 800 cases produced. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) Oct 2022 RRP $59
Elephant Hill Stone Syrah 2019, Hawke’s BaySyrah from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 18-Oct-2022Deep, ruby-red with a purple core, faintly lighter on the rim. The nose is enticing and gently full, sweet floral, blackberry and Damson plum entwined with vanilla, pepper and a suggestion of cured meat. Full-bodied, aromas of violet, Damson plum and blackberry have a concentrated core, unfolding cedar, black pepper and savoury elements. The fruit is dense with richness and concentration; smooth yet firm, fine-grained tannin structured an elegant frame, unveiling vanilla and black pepper. Lively, integrated acidity drives a long, sustained finish. This well-crafted Syrah is structured with fine-grained tannin, dense sweet fruit with excellent concentration and length. Match with venison and beef short rib over the next 10 years. 100% Stone vineyard in Gimblett Gravels, 80% clone 470, 20% MS clone, inoculated & natural yeast fermented with 40% whole clusters, sping natural MLF, aged 28 months on light lees in total, 24 months in barrel, 25% new oak, and 4 months in tank. 110 cases produced. 19/20 pts (95 pts) Oct 2022 RRP $65
Elephant Hill Salome Chardonnay 2020, Hawke’s BayChardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 18-Oct-2022Bright, pale yellow with some depth and a light green sheen, even colour throughout. This has an expressive, full bouquet, complex layers of brisk spice, hazelnut and warm butter underlying ripe peach, nectarine and citrus. Full-bodied, aromas of peach, nectarine and citrus peel enriched by toast, hazelnut, delicate spice and warm butter in well-proportions. An opulent, creamy and unctuous mouthfeel flows with refined, silky phenolics, supported by an acid backbone and carries to a prolonged, spicy finish. This opulent Chardonnay shows clear layers and multi-dimensions with ripe fruit and well-portioned barrel elements. Match with butter-poached crayfish and veal chop over the next 8+ years. 100% clone 15 Chardonnay from Sea vineyard, whole bunch pressed to barrel, naturally fermented to 14% alc, natural partial MLF, aged 18 months on light lees, occasional stirring, 12 months in barrel, 35% new oak, 6 months in tank. 110 cases produced. 19/20 (95 pts) Oct 2022 RRP $85
Elephant Hill Hieronymus 2019, Hawke’s BayBlended Red from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 18-Oct-2022Full, deep, ruby-red with a dark core, faintly lighter on the rim. This bouquet is complex, precise, and structured in layers of cassis, red berry, herbs, violet, cedar, leather and an amalgam of spice. Full-bodied, cassis, red and blackberry aromas entwined with vine leaf, violet, cedar and leather, unveiling dark minerals and new barrel spice. The mouthfeel is smooth with broody dark minerals and finely woven tannins. Lively, integrated acidity enlivens the palate with freshness and length. This robust red blend possesses grace and structure with enticing, integrated fruit and complex new oak elements, already delicious. Serve decanted and match with braised short ribs and tomahawk steak over the next 15 years. Fruit from 99% Stone vineyard in Gimblett Gravels, 1% Earth vineyard in Bridge Pa. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc and 11% Merlot, inoculated and natural fermentation, 13.5% alc, natural spring MLF, aged 28 months on light less in total, 24 months in barrel, 67% new oak, and 4 months in tank. 435 cases produced. 19.5-/20 pts (97 pts) Oct 2022 RRP $125
Elephant Hill Airavata Syrah 2019, Hawke’s BaySyrah from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 18-Oct-2022Deep, full dark purple with a ruby-red core, slightly lighter on the rim. This has a fragrant, alluring, full bouquet with aromas of violet, dark plum, blackberry and blackcurrant, along with cured meat, earthy minerals and an amalgam of spice. Full-bodied, aromas of violet, dark plum and blackberry entwined with savoury, meaty nuance, unfolding earthy, iron minerals, cedar and black pepper. The wine is complex, with clear floral, fruit and earth layers, enriched by barrel ageing complexity and details. Firm, fine-grained, earthy tannins integrated with the fruit and acidity, powerful and elegantly presented. This Syrah shows power and structure with concentrated fruit and hauntingly beautiful floral details. Match with goat stew and venison over the next 12+ years. Fruit from 71% Stone vineyard in Gimblett Gravels, 29% Earth vineyard in Bridge Pa Triangle. 71% MS clone, 29% clone 470, inoculated & natural fermentation with 10% whole bunch, 13.5% alc, natural MLF in spring, aged 28 months on light lees in total, 24 months in barrel, 45% new oak and 4 months in tank. 450 cases produced. 19+/20 pts (96 pts) Oct 2022 RRP $125