Another great evening with nice wines and an informative presenter. John Loughlin was a pleasure to deal with and kept the meeting running to time. A good level of orders resulted. But that all our tastings were as easy to organize as this one was. John says he would be more than happy to come back and has some interesting wines that we haven’t yet tried. We will keep this in mind.
The wines tasted included; Askerne Sauv Blanc / Sauv Gris / Semillon 2018 as the quaffer; followed by; Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2016; Askerne Viognier 2018; Askerne Gewürztraminer 2016; Askerne Syrah 2015; Askerne Merlot Cab Franc Cab Sauv Malbec 2015; Askerne 2016 Cabernet Franc; rounded off with the Askerne Dessert Cabernet 2018.
The drought conditions of December through to mid-February had effectively “saved our bacon” in terms of how the grapes across Hawke’s Bay had weathered persistent and potentially damaging bouts of rain over the past six weeks.
However, there was likely to be a drop in overall volumes along with a drop in sugar levels and in individual cases a possible rise in the cost of harvesting, leading winemaker Rod McDonald said.
Bright, warm and dry days had seen the critical early development of grapes go extremely well, Mr McDonald said, adding that effectively created a good base for fruit protection when the rains did arrive.
“There was good early flavour development during the start of the season – they [grapes] may be down on sugars but the flavours are there.”
Location had been a factor in which vineyards saw reduced volumes, he said, although the overall drop was unlikely to be major.
Of the three vineyards which sourced Rod McDonald Wines one would be down on volumes as a result of the rain belts but the other two were actually slightly ahead of their initial estimates.
“It depends where you were to find the effects where rain hit.”
He said coastal areas like Te Awanga came through well.
“We’ve got some amazing chardonnay and perfect ripeness out of there.”
Rain often created extra costs due to stopping and starting of harvesting – “darting back and forth” – as well as the need for selected picking plans.
“But you’ve just got to suck it up.”
Mr McDonald said he was at a wine tasting in Auckland about a month ago and was asked what effect rain would have on the grape harvest and how damaging could it be.
He replied that despite Hawke’s Bay’s dry reputation everyone in the industry had a wet weather plan and were always prepared for such an eventuality.
“If you don’t then you’re dreaming.”
Part of his plan was to go with “discretion rather than valour” and carry out an earlier than usual harvest of some Syrah and Merlot so as not to put them through any more rain.
“You have to ask yourself ‘do I pull the pin now and bank it or push on through?”
But he still has some Syrah out, along with Cabernet “and they are in great shape”.
Having a damp end to the season was always a threat and simply “one of those things you have to deal with”.
Mission Estate winemaker Paul Mooney took the same stance.
“We have had a remarkable amount of rainfall over the past six or seven weeks and that is not ideal for grape growing but we have worked around it.”
Mr Mooney said there had been some grape loss.
“There have been one or two blocks we’ve had to leave.”
While volumes would be down it would not be major and he agreed with Mr MacDonald that the hot, dry start for the season had put things on the right path.
“It just hasn’t been ideal in the way it has finished,” he said.
He also agreed that while sugar levels were down flavours would still be very good.
On 13 March 2017, Bob Campbell MW spent the afternoon in Hawke’s Bay, blind tasting his way through a sea of 2014 vintage Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot Cabernet blends concealed in brown paper bags. Mr Campbell then selected the top 12 2014 vintage wines to represent Hawke’s Bay, only finding out himself on Wednesday which wines he had selected.
Bob Campbell was the second New Zealander, and is one of just over 300 people in the world to hold the Master of Wine qualification. Mr Campbell is an internationally acclaimed wine judge and is widely regarded as the New Zealand’s foremost wine educator.
Melisa Beight, Executive Officer of Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association Inc. said that the boards and members were thrilled that Bob Campbell MW had agreed to judge the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection. “This is the first year we have produced a Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection and it marks a real milestone for the region. The Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection will be judged by Bob Campbell every year from now on, with the top 12 wines representing the best of Hawke’s Bay being sent out to global key opinion leaders, so that they can make their own assessment.”
“The overall standard was very high indeed” declared Bob Campbell MW. “Clearly 2014 was a truly top vintage. A range of different Chardonnay styles added extra interest, and a degree of difficulty in choosing the ultimate winners. Syrah was stylistically more consistent as well as being the highest performer of the three classes. Blended reds were a pleasure to judge – all of the entries merited selection.”
The 2014 Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection (in no particular order):
Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2014
Te Awa Single Estate Chardonnay 2014
Bilancia Chardonnay 2014
Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014
Te Awa Single Estate Merlot Cabernet 2014
Craggy Range Te Kahu, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay 2014
Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2014
Vidal Legacy Syrah 2014
Church Road Grand Reserve Syrah 2014
Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2014
Craggy Range Syrah, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay 2014
About Hawke’s Bay Wine: Founded in 2006, Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association Inc. represents all wineries and growers in the region and its mission is to achieve international recognition as one of the great wine regions of the world.
A very enjoyable tasting We had a great evening and Ben Coles was a relaxed and entertaining presenter. The wines were more than pleasant and members were keen to make orders. Yet another top tasting, to repeat the wines offered;
There are not many times when tasting wines you come across a range that fulfils everything it promises. Duncan, the team at Man O’ War, and our presenter Ben have produced a range the would not let anyone down. Everyone had their favourite on the night right across the lineup.
2013 Gravestone Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
2014 Valhalla Chardonnay
2015 Exiled Pinot Gris
2015 Pinque Rose
2011 Dreadnought Syrah
2012 Man O’ War Merlot Cabernet Malbec
2010 Ironclad Bordeaux blend
Ben, the GSM at Man o’ War is an ingenious speaker; knowledgeable, funny, with a great personality; a great representative for Man O’ War. I noted a few of Ben’s one-liners:
Berocca pee (in reference to Marlborough Sauv’s)
Better red than dead
Gotta go big or go home
Drink some tea (in reference to waiting for wine to ferment)
Global warming is John Key,s fault (needing to pick 2012 crop later than usual due to wet weather)
Waiheke is a piece of dirt in a big blue thing (in reference to an ideal location)
Man O’ War is 150 acres made up of 76 individual parcels of land providing great diversity in soil type, prevailing winds and temperature, allowing the winemaker to source the best of what’s on offer to make incredibly decadent wines.
The Gravestone as you’d expect was far your typical sauv. Silky with a touch of sweetness with a slight minerality finish – pleasant. 15/20
I have been drinking the ’09 and ’10 Valhalla – exceptional wines. The 2014 rendition was smokey, no malo ferment due to basalt soils, and a beautifully balanced wine. Yes needs five years but worth the wait. 19/20
The Pinot Gris bottled at 4° gave a slight tingle on the tongue. Ben mentioned this raises the CO2 levels so there’s more in the bottle – about 4 ml. 17/20
The inaugural release of Pinque, named after a flat-bottomed ship, was gently pressed wine in the champagne style over 6 hours. A pale pink hue gives way to a savoury cranberry nose and clean dry finish. 15/20
The white label Merlot dominant (45%) Bordeaux blend is one of my favourite wines anytime. I can recommend the ’06 and ’07 as it has aged wonderfully well so 2012 won’t let you down. Fruity, light tannin feel on the teeth, not the mouth, and a smooth rich finish. 17/20. Now for the biggies.
The Ironclad, silky elegance. Savoury mince nose, rich lingering finish. An exciting wine that I’ve laid down for at least ten years. 19/20. The Dreadnought gave a hint of bayleaf, bacon and blueberries, finished off with savoury and minerality overtones. Ben said Pinot Noir on steroids and that’s the beauty of this wine. Another for ageing. 18/20.
Venue: Johnsonville Community Centre Hall, 30 Moorefield Rd, Johnsonville, Wellington 6037 – Directions.
Cost: Members $12, Guests $16
Presenter: Ben Coles, Global Sales Manager
About Man O’ War
The Winemaker at Man O’ War is Duncan McTavish. His heart and soul and enormous talent are all reflected in each of the extraordinary wines he crafts at Man O’ War. Of singular personality, they are indeed the “definitive translation of our land.”
The inaugural graduate of the Viticulture & Oenology degree at Lincoln University in 1998, Duncan spent the following three years working harvest for some of the best producers in Burgundy, Germany, California, Australia and New Zealand. This apprenticeship culminated in 2001 when he landed a job with one of New Zealand’s best wine producers, the Waipara Valley’s inimitable Pegasus Bay. After nearly four years under the wing of Pegasus, Duncan left to develop his winemaking ideas at Waipara Springs. In 2008, Man O’ War were fortunate enough to entice Duncan to go north to Man O’ War. He now makes his home on Waiheke living above Onetangi Beach with his partner Vanessa, son Tommy and a baby daughter.
We look forward to sharing the Man O’ War philosophy and wines with Ben, who is the Global Sales Manager for the winery.
Man O’ War Legacy – ‘Discovered’ in 1769
The Man O’ War story begins with a special piece of land which has a rich history. Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, Man O’ War is a stunning array of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and pristine beaches forming a ruggedly beautiful coastline. Continue reading →