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Trophy winning Syrah... seducing International Wine Critics

23 September 2014|Cellar Journal

NZ Syrah has been receiving massive critical acclaim, not just domestically but internationally. We are producing excellent Syrah across a number of wine regions and they are being lauded for their floral elegance, varietal typicity, purity of flavour and mineral like freshness. 

It's astonishing to think that Syrah is just 0.6% of plantings in New Zealand given the level of interest it is attracting.

Hawkes Bay is home to around 85% of NZ's plantings due to its warm maritime climate, and Marlborough with a miniscule 10 hectares under vine has also displayed its propensity for growing world class Syrah.

This year marked the first time a Marlborough Syrah had ever won a major Wine Show Trophy, when the Giesen Brothers Syrah 2011 (below) won Champion Syrah at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. 2011 Fromm La Strada Syrah gave the region further repute by claiming No.1 spot in Cuisine's Annual Top Ten NZ Syrah.

And speaking of trophy-winning Syrahs, the Elephant Hill Syrah from 2013, the finest vintage on record in the Hawkes Bay, claimed Champion Syrah and Champion Wine of Show status at the Spiegelau International Wine Competition. A blend of Te Awanga and Gimblett Gravels fruit it is one of the most exciting value wines our panel has encountered.

The final Syrah in our selection, Bridge Pa 'Louis' Hawke's Bay Syrah 2007 (special release from winery cellars), has fulfilled the promise of its youth, drinking remarkably well now but with a few more good years on the clock if you're so inclined. Further proof of the legitimacy of the Bridge Pa Triangle's merit as a sub-region of Hawkes Bay alongside Gimblett Gravels.

Four very different Syrahs: all impressive and great examples of why the collective international wine world is encouraging our growers to rip out other vines in favour of Syrah. 

Bridge Pa 'Louis' Hawke's Bay Syrah 2007

Drinking beautifully, it is the perfect partner for a venison backstrap!

Gold & Best of Class - London IWC
95/100 - Wine Orbit
93/100 - Bob Campbell MW

A watershed bottling from NZ's only producer 100% devoted to Syrah. Grown on the Pumice Sands on Ngatarawa Road, Louis 2007 was a standout example from one of the ripest and most highly regarded Hawkes Bay Syrah vintages. Now at its beautiful peak at 7 years old, there's plenty of great drinking left in it.

SMELLS: A powerful and mature nose of blueberry, smoke, plum, spice, hints of undergrowth and dark chocolate.

TASTES: The incredibly rich but finely structured palate has a plethora of black fruits, cured meat, nutmeg and cracked pepper complementing the savoury notes that come from bottle aging in perfect conditions. Fully mature now, this wine will drink well for at least the next 3-4 years, so see the butcher about a nice venison back strap and let this beauty speak to you!

Elephant Hill Syrah 2013

Superb cellar Syrah… remarkably priced!

Champion Wine of Show - Spiegelau IWC
Champion Syrah - Spiegelau IWC
Gold Medal - Spiegelau IWC
5 Stars - Raymond Chan
94/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co.

When you smell this multiple-trophy-winning wine, you realise why vineyards in Hawke's Bay are being ripped up and re-planted with Syrah! From what has come to be called 'the vintage of a generation', this 2013 Elephant Hill Syrah sees lots of high-quality French oak to tame its deep, luxurious concentration. The result is outstanding and one worth buying as much as you can get your hands on.

SMELLS: A deep, exotic bouquet with lavish black fruits, violets, leather, tar, vanilla and cloves.

TASTES: Silky, fine and long with lavish black fruits and layers of complexity unravelling suggestions of liquorice, chocolate and charcuterie. This is Syrah from the very top drawer to enjoy between now and 2023.

Giesen Brothers Syrah 2011

The first Marlborough Syrah to ever win a major Champion Trophy!

Champion Syrah - Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2014
Gold Medal - Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2014
93/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co
93/100 - Bob Campbell MW

A single vineyard wine that's sourced from low yielding 19-year-old organically farmed Syrah clones. 2011 was a long cool vintage with a prolonged ripening period making for perfectly ripe tanins and concentrated flavours.

SMELLS: Boysenberry, blackberry, smoke, espresso and vanilla.

TASTES: Subtly powerful in a very Northern Rhonish way, anyone who says you can't grow Syrah in Marlborough needs to try this. Silky and deeply fruited with fine tannins, this wine will drink beautifully with venison or game between now and 2020.

Fromm Vineyards La Strada Syrah 2011

No. 1 Syrah in Cuisine Magazine's Annual Syrah Competition.

5-Stars - Cuisine Magazine
18+/20 - Raymond Chan
91/100 - Bob Campbell MW
92/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co.

Fromm craft some of our finest wines in NZ from Riesling to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah; each variety being classical and balanced. This Syrah could be mistaken for quality Rhone; superior to most Crozes Hermitage and comparable to more pricey mid range Hermitage. The pure varietal expression and perfect harmony will impress those who appreciate the finesse and pleasure well made Syrah exhibits.

SMELLS: A splash of Viognier adds vitality to the floral, plum and spice notes a la quality Cote Rotie.

TASTES: Instantly engaging with creamy plum, berry and cracked pepper flavours wrapped in finely grained tannin. Texturally embracing with a sea-salt like mineral freshness to the creamy finish, which is pervaded with additional tastes of the Mediterranean. A totally engaging Syrah, extremely enjoyable now but will also cellar nicely through 2019.

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