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Wine of the Week for week ending 22 December 2002
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Unison RosÚ 2002
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Summertime - and the living is easy. Wish it was but heading into the week before Christmas it is rush, rush, rush. Still, despite the strong winds that have postponed the semi-final racing of the Louis Vuitton Cup (yacht racing) for the last 3 days, there's a bit of sunshine peeking through the fast moving clouds that block out the blue sky from time to time. And the winds here in Albany in the northern region of Auckland are warm, so long as you are in a sheltered possie.

Summertime is the perfect time for RosÚ style wines so it was the perfect time for me to open the Unison RosÚ 2002 from Hawkes Bay. I'd had the wine before, but just a taste when the winemakers from the Gimblett Gravels sub-region in Hawkes Bay came to Auckland to show their wines to the adoring fans. There were many impressive wines to taste that day.

However I was particularly taken with the Unison RosÚ as it was so refreshing in a red wine kind of way after all the new release Hawkes Bay blends of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and/or Syrah that I had been trying. The fresh young tannins and the oaky nature of these wines get to you after a while.

So Neil and I took some time out from the chores of the day to relax on the deck with a glass of Unison RosÚ. We were well sheltered from that wind that had dropped down to just a vigorous breeze and the wine, which had been in the fridge for an hour, was just the perfect temperature.

The colour of RosÚ wines always appeals to me but the Unison RosÚ, with its translucent colour of perfectly ripe strawberry with glints of grape garnet and ruby gemstones, is darker than most. That's probably because the wine is predominantly Syrah (80%) with Merlot making up the rest of the blend.

The aromas are appealing. They remind me of freshly picked strawberries and wild blackberries with just a touch of spice.

Its crisp in the palate with flavours of summer berry fruits, Christmas plums (the red skinned plums with the yellow flesh) and of course those strawberries. But the telltale spiciness of Syrah with its peppery connotations dominates the lingering flavour that is quite creamy yet crisp in texture.

It's a dry wine, which actually makes it very moreish when combined with such ripe fruit. I find some RosÚs too sweet and just one glass is almost too much. But not this wine, judging by the speed it wanted to evaporate. It's fruity but it is dry and savoury and there is definitely some spicy pepper in there.

Perhaps it was the food matching experiments and the need to relax that helped that evaporation. Fresh strawberries abound at this time of year and the price right now is good. So much so that I bought two punnets yesterday and so did Neil. There are strawberries galore around here.

After a bunch of experiments, from strawberries simply halved and sprinkled with black pepper to our final flourish of peppered strawberry and cream cheese bites, we'd somehow consumed half the bottle between us.

If all RosÚ wines were as good as this, people would be beating down the doors to get their hands on some.

Beat down the door of the Unison Winery, for that is the only place you will get this wine. It is sold ex-winery only. It will cost you $18 a bottle for your efforts but hurry, just 150 cases were made. Unsion is on the web at

Unison RosÚ 2002, a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Merlot that spent 2 hours on skins before being transferred to stainless steel, has been fermented to dryness.

© Sue Courtney
15 December 2002

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