Sacred Hill ‘Special Selection’ 2015 Chardonnays and 2014 Reds

The flagship wines of Sacred Hill are the ‘Special Selection’ tier. These are limited production wines made from outstanding parcels of fruit from the best vineyard sites, only when the vintages suit their making in the requisite style at the highest quality. Sacred Hill’s chief winemaker Tony Bish has personally overseen the development of each of the labels, and he is immensely proud of them. The wines have won numerous top awards and fare exceptionally well in judgings and tastings with international wines of similar aspirations such as grand cru white burgundy and First Growth claret.

The ‘Riflemans’ Chardonnay has the most auspicious track record of the ‘Special Selection’ wines, and its elegance, intensity, refinement and individual character make it one of the country’s great Chardonnays. The ‘Riflemans’ was joined at the top level by Sacred Hill’s Chablis-inspired ‘Virgin’ Chardonnay from the 2011 vintage in 2012. The ‘Virgin’ Chardonnay is also sourced from the ‘Riflemans’ vineyard, and is a superb expression of pure fruit. Upon Tony Bish’s insistence, the ‘Wine Thief’ Chardonnay joined the ‘Special Selection’ tier from 2014. The wine was first made in 2004, and was seen as a ‘baby Riflemans’ but suffered from being an ‘orphan’ label, not quite fitting into any of the existing ranges. With intermittent production and in an alternative style, it seemed to languish. However Tony saw the potential quality and stylistic difference possible, that it was deemed to deserve its place alongside the original ‘Riflemans’ and ‘Virgin’ Chardonnays. The ‘Wine Thief’, also sourced from the ‘Riflemans’ vineyard, is based on high solids ferments where sulphides are a part of the style, and the wine employs different oak origins and toasting levels. It is a more ‘contemporary’ expression, with an emphasis on richness and mid-palate weight according to Tony. Thus there are three Chardonnay variations in the ‘Special Selection’ range. At the time of writing, the 2015 ‘Virgin’ Chardonnay is still on lees, but about to be bottled.

The other ‘Special Selection’ wines are the ‘Deerstalkers’ Syrah, named after the site of the clubrooms of the Deerstalkers Association which happened to be in the Gimblett Gravels; the ‘Brokenstone’ Merlot-predominant wine, named so because the vineyard site took a long time to become anywhere near profitable, and it was affectionately known as ‘Stoneybroke’; and the ‘Helmsman’ Cabernet Sauvignon-predominant wine, the name suggested by winegrower friend Allan Gunn who was driving his tractor through the vineyard listening to the radio commentary of the America’s Cup when ‘Black Magic’ crossed the finish line.

Here, I review the new ‘Special Selection releases, the 2015 ‘Wine Thief’ and ‘Riflemans’ Chardonnays, and the 2014 reds, the ‘Deerstalkers’ Syrah, ‘Brokenstone’ and ‘Helmsman’. www.sacredhill.com


  • Sacred Hill ‘Wine Thief’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
  • Sacred Hill ‘Riflemans’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
  • Sacred Hill ‘Deerstalkers’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014
  • Sacred Hill ‘Brokenstone’ Hawke’s Bay 2014
  • Sacred Hill ‘Helmsman’ Hawke’s Bay 2014

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