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]


  • Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2017
  • Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2016
  • Jenny Dobson Hawke’s Bay Fiano 2015

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