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Wine of the Week for week ending 7 October 2001
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Church Road Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

I find it very hard to believe that there are still 1998 reds from Hawkes Bay available for purchase in retail stores. Yet browsing the shelves with a wine lover visitor from Japan one day last week (hi Simon) revealed there are still a couple of great reds to be found. And one is a recent release.

Church Road Reserve Cab Sauv 98 label It is the Church Road Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, which the Montana crew have been lovingly aging in their own cellars at the Church Road winery in Hawkes Bay until just a couple of month ago.

It's a huge wine that is getting somewhere ready to drink now, although there is still plenty of life ahead if it.

Pouring it into a large glass, the colour is a deep black-red - opaque in the centre and glowing bright red on the rim.

Taking a sniff, there's spiced berry, pencil shavings and cedar on the fragrant nose.

It's a big minty leathery wine when first in the mouth with sweet ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, ripe rich tannins, spicy oak and excellent concentration of lovely sweet fruit. A touch of mocha lingers with the oak and fruit on the finish.

It was the perfect dinner accompaniment to my butcher's mint-marinaded lamb steaks.

Tasted again the following evening, the wine is still big and bold with plenty of spicy ripe fruit, creamy chocolate oak and a lingering minty nuance.

The Church Road Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 clearly has a great future ahead of it.

It's a blend of 85% cabernet sauvignon and 15% cabernet franc from the Esk Valley and Moteo sub-regions of Hawkes Bay. After fermentation it was aged in mainly new French oak barriques for approximately 16 months. It has 13.5% alcohol by volume.

The price will vary depending where you buy. It is usually about NZ$27-$29 but I've seen it advertised in Auckland for as low as NZ$22 a bottle, which is an absolute bargain for a wine of this quality. If you see it at that price, buy a case - you won't be disappointed.

Check out this page on the Montana Wines website for further information.

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