Thursday, September 10, 2009


I have been very impressed with the quality of Hawkes Bay red wines from recent vintages. Gone are the days when the offerings were thin, green and weedy, being poor imitations of lesser Bordeaux styles.
The better wines from recent good vintages knock the socks off their Australian counterparts and, now and then give the French heavyweights a run for their money.

A recent comparative wine tasting of French and Hawkes Bay 'clarets' proved that (on occasion) NZ red wines can foot it with the best. The tasters included Australian wine writer James Halliday and USA's Elin McCoy along with seven local winewriters.

Up against six Bordeaux wines including Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2005 and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2005 were six Bordeaux-style wines including the Blake Family Vineyards Redd Gravels 2005, the Sacred Hill Helmsman 2005, Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2005.
Four Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels wines were placed in the top six of the tasting, with Blake Family Vineyards Redd Gravels 2005 outright winner.
The top 6 wines based on scores from the 9 winewriters were:

1. Blake Family Vineyards Redd Gravels 2005
2. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2005
3. Sacred Hill Helmsman 2005
4. Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
5. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2005
6. Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2005

The wines tasted and prices were:

Chateau Cos d'Estournel (French) RRP $400

Chateau Haut Brion (French) RRP $1,650

Chateau Lafite Rothschild (French) RRP $2,000

Chateau L'Eglise Clinet (French) RRP $1,350

Chateau Mouton Rothschild (French) RRP $1,650

Chateau Troplong Mondot (French) RRP $600

Blake Family Vineyards Redd Gravels (NZ) RRP $75

Craggy Range “Sophia” (NZ) RRP $50

Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon (NZ) RRP $40

Newton Forrest Cornerstone (NZ) RRP $40

Sacred Hill Helmsman (NZ) RRP $70

Trinity Hill The Gimblett (NZ) RRP$30

An outstanding result and hopefully one that will be noticed.
Californian wines were put on the map when a group of French winewriters compared some of the best French wines with some of the best USA wines with the USA wines winning out (see the movie Bottle Shock). We have to be careful though in not getting too excited as one tasting albeit with respected and experienced tasters does not mean that we have yet made the grade but the world should start to take notice. Hopefully the prices won't be pushed up too much after this.


Richard (of RBB) said...

Thanks The Wine Guy. This really sets the standard for me to try and follow in my new role. I notice that there wasn't a Chateau Margaux in the tasting. I like that one especially when mixed with lemonade.

THE WINE GUY said...

No Richard (of Richard's Bass Bag, you must lift your game if you want to be known as a wine connoisseur. Coca Cola is the prefereed mixer for expensive Bordeaux wines. The Chinese have consumed like this for ages.