Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2017 – 2015
Jenny Dobson is one of this country’s most accomplished winemakers, known in her early vinous life as winemaker at Chateau Senejac in the Medoc, a position most unusual for a woman then. And her wines were very good. But her arrival in Hawke’s Bay and especially at Te Awa Farm showed it was Bordeaux’s loss and New Zealand’s gain. Jenny has her fingers in many viticultural and vinification pies besides her main job as winemaker at Sacred Hill, where she makes some of the best Gimblett Gravels Syrah and Bordeaux-varietal reds.
One such project is making a wine from the white Fiano grape which has its home in the volcanic soils of Campania, south-west Italy. It’s a variety that has slowly spread across other parts of Italy and the world, such as California, Oregon and Australia, after nearly becoming extinct. Its character and quality is well-regarded. Jenny is now the only producer of Fiano in New Zealand, though Coopers Creek had bottlings from the Bell Vineyard Gisborne grown fruit from the 2014. 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintages made by Simon Nunns. These vines have now been pulled out. The wines made by Jenny and Simon have attracted positive comments from those who have tasted them.
Jenny first made Fiano from Bryce Campbell’s ‘Bush Hawk’ vineyard on Ngatarawa Road from 300 vines planted in 2010, yielding their first crop in 2013, the wine labelled ‘Bush Hawk’. Since then she has made the 2014 from this block, which she now leases, and has continually made wine from these vines since. In 2017 and 2018, Jenny obtained fruit from another grower with 1,000 Fiano vines, in Hastings, thus increasing her production, but these vines were pulled out just in August before she found out! Jenny reports she has found another Hawke’s Bay grower with 300 vines, which she is trying to secure supply.
I reckon the making of Fiano wine by Jenny is an affair of the heart. She sees vibrant and complex aromas of red apple, citrus blossom, lemon-curd and wet-stone minerality, and a bold and flavoursome palate with raciness, weight and power, with textural richness. In the winery, she ferments the fruit to dryness in stainless-steel tanks and small steel barrels, and ages the wine on lees with batonnage. Jenny wanted me to review three vintages of her Fiano, the 2017, 2016 and 2015, the latter now all sold out. My reviews follow. For availability, contact Jenny on email: [email protected]
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2017Other White from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 02-Nov-2018Bright straw-yellow colour with lemon-gold tints and slight green hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is elegant in proportion with good depth and concentration of white and yellow stonefruits, notes of white florals and positively defined minerality, unfolding some nutty lees elements. This is fine and fresh in expression with penetration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a well-concentrated core with good presence, showing white and yellow stonefruits with floral nuances, hints of citrus fruit and minerals. The mouthfeel is refreshing and lively in flow with crisp acidity, unfolding floral elements and a suggestion of honeysuckle along with minerals. The wine carries to a bright, lingering finish. This is a bright and lively, refreshingly intense Fiano with stonefruit, floral and mineral flavours on a crisp, lingering palate. Serve with seafood and Asian fare over the next 2-3+ years. Fruit from two sites, fermented in stainless-steel tanks and small stainless barrels to 12.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged on lees undergoing batonnage. 18.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $35.00
Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2016Other White from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 02-Nov-2018Bright straw-yellow colour with light green-gold hues and some depth, lighter edged. The nose is softly full with good depth and breadth, showing plenty of presence of yellow stonefruits along with an amalgam of nutty and mineral notes. This has underlying freshness and florality, revealing lees inputs with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is fulsome and possesses richness with a subtly-driven core and underlying power. The flavours are a little reticent, but the palate has good mouthfeel, unfolding soft stonefruit flavours with nutty hints and mineral detail. The acidity is soft and gentle, and the wine carries to a light finish. This is a softly rich and moderately broad Fiano with restrained stonefruit and nutty flavours. Serve with poultry and pork dishes over the next 2+ years. Fruit from the ‘Bush Hawk’ vineyard, Ngatarawa Road, fermented in stainless-steel tanks and small stainless barrels to 12.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged on lees undergoing batonnage. 17.5-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $38.00
Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2015Other White from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 02-Nov-2018Bright straw-yellow colour with some depth, paler on the rim. The nose is softly full with good depth and density of concentrated white and yellow stonefruit aromas, entwined with an amalgam of honied and nutty notes, and a little secondary savoury floral and mineral nuance. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has rich and layered, but subtle flavours of yellow stonefruits with some honeysuckle, nutty and mineral elements. The palate is full with good presence and mouthfeel and the wine flows along a fine-textured line with lacy acidity lending energy and freshness, carrying to a soft, plush, rich finish with power and length. This is a rich and layered Fiano just beginning to show some honied secondary flavours on a palate with power and length. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 2-3 years. Fruit from the ‘Bush Hawk’ vineyard, Ngatarawa Road, fermented in stainless-steel tanks and small stainless barrels to 13.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged on lees undergoing batonnage. 17.5+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $N/A