Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection

It is just over 35 years since the first grapes were planted in the Gimblett Gravels, originally thought wasteland by the Hawke’s Bay locals, but in these times it is regarded as one of the best areas in New Zealand to grow the Bordeaux red varieties and Syrah. The Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association was formed in 2001 to collective promote the wines of the district and protect its identity, by delineating an 800 ha area based on the gravelly soils laid down by the old Ngaruroro river. The area defined is independent of GI specifications, and the Association has the name ‘Gimblett Gravels’ registered as a trademark. Members of the Association must own land in the area and wines produced bearing the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ designation must be 95% from the area.

The current members of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association are: Babich, Beach House, Coopers Creek, Craggy Range, Crossroads, Crown Range Cellar, Element Wines, Elephant Hill, Esk Valley, Ka Tahi, Mills Reef, Mission, Newton Forrest, New Zealand Wine Society, Pask, Sacred Hill, Saint Clair, Squawking Magpie, Stonecroft, Te Awa, Trinity Hill, Unison, Vidal, Villa Maria and William Murdoch as producers. Grower members are: M. Cairns & A. Wright Partnership, Riverstone Vineyards and Terra Vitae Vineyards. www.gimblettgravels.com

The 2015 Annual Vintage Selection
One of the most effective promotional exercises devised by the Association is the ‘Annual Vintage Selection’ where a dozen wines are chosen independently by Andrew Caillard MW of Sydney, from wines submitted for blind tasting, to represent the best of the district for that given year. The ‘Selection’ wines are sent to media and critics world-wide for their appraisal. The ‘Annual Vintage Selection’ has been made from the 2008 vintage, and the 2015 Selection, the eighth, was announced in June earlier this year.

The 2015 growing season follows on from the excellent vintages of 2013 and 2014, and started with delayed flowering for Merlot and Syrah due to a cool spring. A dry summer followed with classically good temperatures through to a very dry January and February, the heat summation similar to that of 2013, allowing excellent ripening of the red varieties. The threatening Cyclone Pam in March when the tail end reached the Gimblett Gravels had little effect as the grapes were not yet fully ripe and resistant to damage. The rest of the growing season was excellent leading to harvesting in ideal conditions. Although there was a rain event on 10 April, the cool, dry weather minimised any disease outbreak. Settled weather then continued to the conclusion of harvest. This is seen as a strong vintage for Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The 2015 Annual Vintage.

Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection - Syrahs

Tasting the Wines
Following are my reviews of the 2015 Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintage Selection. The wines are ordered alphabetically by name for the Syrah and the Bordeaux varietals. I have already tasted a number of these wines as ‘Feature Reviews’, these being all of the five Syrah and two of the Blended reds.. It is interesting to taste those already tasted before – in this context of comparison. As with any tasting, the juxtaposition of wines highlights certain traits and often downplays others which seem more obvious in other situations. As in judging, sequential effects operate. These factors will explain why my notes may vary from previous tasting notes or future ones.

The quality of the wines is extremely high, and I am very much in agreement with Andrew Caillard’s selections. The Bordeaux-varietal wines are very even across the board, despite the different varietal proportions of the wines. I feel they are more fruit-expressive wines, a reflection of the vintage. I don’t get a clear defined message of the Gimblett Gravels with what I describe as an ‘iron-earth’ aroma and flavour, as I have in other vintages. There is greater variation with the Syrahs, with very high points and slightly lesser ones. These too are fruit-expressive, showing full ripeness, and some of the wines capture the ‘iron-earth’ and mineral character I see as being the Gimblett Gravels signature.

Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection - Blended Reds


  • Craggy Range ‘Le Sol’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
  • Ka Tahi ‘Rangatira’ ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
  • Sacred Hill ‘Deerstalkers’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
  • Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
  • Vidal ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
  • Babich ‘Irongate’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot/Franc 2015
  • Babich ‘The Patriarch’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay 2015
  • Mission ‘Barrique Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2015
  • Sacred Hill ‘Brokenstone’ Hawke’s Bay 2015
  • Stonecroft Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
  • Te Awa ‘Single Estate’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
  • Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2015

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