Hawkes Bay winegrowers pride themselves on the production of some of New Zealand's most outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines and blends and they are due to feature at a symposium in the 'Bay later in the year. Well, I've just discovered a wine that is sure to be a standout at this event - that is of course, it if it included.
It is the Mills Reef Elspeth Trust Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from the Gimblett Gravels subregion of Hawkes Bay.
"It's a new vineyard," Tim Preston, winemaker at Mills Reef, explained to me at the
Elspeth One launch earlier in the month and is situated on the corner of State Highway 50 and Mere Road. Further along Mere Road, closer to the river, are the main Mills Reef vineyards.
They've planted the 4-hectare vineyard with 80% Syrah and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The plantings are intensive - just one metre apart vine spacings and low trellising (like Providence in Matakana which is modelled on Ch. Petrus). "This takes advantage of the reflective heat from the stones," say Tim.
The Mills Reef Elspeth Trust Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from first crop fruit from the site.
Impressive from the outset - from its deep, youthful, purple red colour through to its aroma, flavour and lasting finish - this intense, concentrated and beautiful red wine has a lovely winey sweetness to the cedary oak scent and a profound depth to the intense, pure flavour. It is rich, ripe and beautifully balanced with varietal flavours of cedar, smoke, tar, liquorice, blackcurrant and violet - with softly powerful tannins, as they should be for such a young wine.
Later there's cherry and cassis harmonising with the creamy vanillin French oak with a tarriness emerging from within and a touch of spice on the finish.
The notes say that grapes were hand picked at ideal ripeness on April 21st 2006, destemmed, gently crushed and cold soaked. Fermentation was then carried out in Integrale barrels using a selected indigenous yeast, followed by an extended cold maceration post-ferment. Aging took pace in 10% new French oak for 15 months with 2 aerated rackings and was bottled under cork on 11 October 2007. The alcohol reads 14% by volume.
If you are looking for a classic example of New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon, this is it. It is an outstanding debut and continues the excellence of the 2006 vintage from Hawkes Bay. As the tasting notes say, "Already delicious". I agree. However I'll be looking forward to finishing the wine tomorrow night with a roast leg of lamb. It will also give an insight to the development of the wine.
I like the new red label too. It's a danger alert - 'danger' because there is deliciously drinkakable wine inside.
Find out more from www.millsreef.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
18 Aug 2008