Topic of the Week 12/26/2018 - Introductory & Certified

, and are Still studying during the holiday........(crickets.....) . I'll be here all week folks.

This week: Gimblett Gravels

Where is this region located? What are the soils? What varieties see success there?

  • That was an awful pun - it makes me want to rum away from these topics.  I hope you can rectify your terrible puns with some better ones :)

    Gimblett Gravels is in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand (North Island, Eastern Coast, kinda equidistant between Wellington and Auckland).

    It's mostly alluvial soils, deposited by the Ngaruroro river run off from the mountains to the west, with lots of chunky sandstone, gravel, and clays.  These heat-retaining stones and clays are important, as the region is only about 12 miles away from the Pacific Ocean.  It's considered a more moderate maritime climate.

    The varieties that see the most success there are Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, and Chard.  Trinity Hill is known for making some wonderfully potent Syrah from the region, and Sileni Estates makes some gorgeous Merlot as well.

  • To add to what Andrew said, the gravels are called greywacke (gray-wacky), which is a type of hard sandstone. They form underwater usually in oceanic trenches or along continental edges. The Southern Alps that form the backbone of most of NZ are composed of this rock. Slate is also associated with greywacke, though the Gimblett gravels are mostly sandstone based. The Ngaruroro River changed course in 1867 due to a massive flood. The old river bed is called Omahu and most of the Gimblett Gravels vineyards are here. The river deposited loam, clay, sand, and gravel in various thin layers and the vine roots tend to burrow past the stones and spread out in the sandy layers.

    It's worth knowing that the Gimblett Gravels is an unofficial GI, but the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers association regulates the use of Gimblett Gravels on the label. To comply, the wingrower must be a member of the growers organization, 95% of the vineyard must be on the defined soils and 95% of the wine in the bottle must come from the appellation. 

    90% of the Gimblett Gravels are planted to red grapes and of that, 35% is Merlot, 20% Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec comprising 7% and 4% respectively. Some renegade to have bucked the trend and planted a little Chardonnay and Viognier. tisk tisk.