Topic of the Week 8/2/2019 - Advanced

for the win last week with blending rules for Vinho Verde. I've also actually seen 100% Alvarinho bottling from Basto from the 2017 vintage so it seems things are moving faster than forecasted.

This week: Hawkes Bay

What are the defining parameters for this region that dictate the wine styles? Name 3 producers.

  • Hawkes Bay is the driest region on New Zealand’s North Island, and has a diverse range of altitudes and soils. Varieties include Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and others. The Gimblett Gravels unofficial subregion (and trademarked brand of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association) was underwater until the 1860’s, and now has deep gravelly soils laid down by the old Ngaruroro River. Much of Hawkes Bay is influenced by cool temperatures and sea breezes and is not warm enough for Bordeaux varietals and Syrah, but Gimblett Gravels is a spot that gets more warmth than the rest of Hawkes Bay, and the combination of heat and gravelly soils give it a reputation for high-quality Syrah and Bordeaux blends. Producers include Craggy Range, Trinity Hill, and Te Mata Estate. 

  • Hawke's Bay is also the second largest region in the country, which has historically been one of the country's top producers of fruits and vegetables, rather than vines, so competition for land has been fierce. Some other key (unofficial) sub regions are Bridge Pa, Esk River Valley and Dartmoor Valley, with more likely to come due to the soil and altitude diversity Michael mentioned. I enjoy Te Awanga Estate's wines, currently pouring their Sauv Blanc at one of the restaurants. Merlot has the highest plantings hectare wise, followed closely by Chardonnay then Sauv Blanc. Some larger companies have been growing Pinot Noir for bulk sparkling production, but generally is has struggled to produce any wines of distinction, though some producers in the central part of the region look to be attempting to change this.  The regions varietal diversity is directly linked to its hot and long growing season, while still staying in the cool climate spectrum, low rainfall and humidity, and the aforementioned soil/altitude shifts.