Mills Reef 2013 ‘Arthur Edmund’ Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Merlot and Syrah

28-Nov-2018
At the start of August this year, Mills Reef announced the launch of two new super icon wines, named ‘Arthur Edmund’ which sat above the flagship ‘Elspeth’ wines. The wines came from Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay fruit, but what was particularly startling was the Recommended Retail Price of $350.00 per bottle. My initial reaction was shock at the very high pricing, such that I phoned Mills Reed general manager Nick Aleksich straight away to describe my reaction. Knowing how Mills Reef approach the marketplace, I should have realised that the decision for the pricing was well-considered by the management and team.

The pricing was decided on a number of factors, primarily that the quality of the ‘Elspeth’ Bordeaux-Varietal and Syrah wines was the equal if not better than of any similarly styled wines from around the world, including Bordeaux and the Rhone, as gauged by results of many blind tastings around the world conducted by some of the most highly renowned tasters on the planet. Comparing the prices of the ‘Elspeth’ wines with some of the more famous names, the Mills Reef wines were 10 or even 20 times less the price, making then incredibly undervalued and bargains. The Mills Reef team realised that they were not appreciating the worth of their wines in terms of being on a global market.

A number of New Zealand wines were already more expensive than the $350.00 they were pricing the ‘Arthur Edmund’ wines at; Stonyridge ‘Larose’ 2015 at $450.00, the Destiny Bay ‘Magna Praemia’ 2014 at $499.00 (both as on Wine Searcher), and the Babich ‘100 Year’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 was $399.00 (now unavailable). The Church Road’ ‘TOM’ wines are now $200.00, and the Craggy Range ‘Prestige Collection’ Sophia’ 2016 is $140.00 a bottle, as is Trinity Hill’s ‘Homage’ Syrah. The Villa Maria ’Ngakirikiri’ icon Cabernet Sauvignon is $150.00 There is a slow creep towards higher pricing for the super-premium Bordeaux-Variety and Syrah wines. Most producers of these wines are aware of the knife-edge balance between these wines being very expensive or luxury commodities. Few would wish to see their top wines become like the special editions of Penfolds ‘Grange’ which are generally unattainable by the vast majority of wine enthusiasts.
 
The Mills Reef ‘Arthur Edmund’ Wines
These first releases of the ‘Arthur Edmund’ wines have been nearly a decade in the making, with the viticultural team identifying the best rows and plots of fruit from their estate Gimblett Gravels vineyards. It was with the 2013 vintage, recognised now as one of the finest to date, described as a ‘vintage of a lifetime’ in the Gimblett Gravels and Hawke’s Bay that the fruit from the growing season met the criteria for the desired wines. The fruit to make these wines was stringently selected from the best vineyard rows, from vines on the best soils, from the oldest vines with exceptionally low yields of just 3-4 bunches per vine.

In the winery, parcels were kept separate, the grapes for the Cabernet/Merlot undergoing crushing under its natural weight with the cap hand-plunged twice daily, and the Syrah alcohol soaked for optimal tannin structure, before they were barrelled in the finest oak, 100% new 300L hogheads for 20 months maturation. Only one racking occurred throughout the maturation period, and natural gravity was employed for settling and clarification. A rigorous barrel selection was made for the final blends, the wines bottled with light egg-white fining and no filtration. The wines are named as a tribute to Paddy and Tim Preston’s father and grandfather respectively, who was married to Elspeth. I review the wines here. www.millsreef.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW

  • Mills Reef ‘Arthur Edmond’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2013
  • Mills Reef ‘Arthur Edmond’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013

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