2015 Elephant Hill, Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand £21.95, Corney & Barrow, 020-7265 2430, CorneyAndBarrow.com
Last week I wrote about the predictability, or otherwise, of New Zealand’s most famous vinous export, Marlborough sauvignon blanc. This week I would like to introduce you to a discipline that represents a fraction of 1% of the country’s harvest – syrah. Of course, Australia is a syrah/shiraz hero-producer and New Zealand will never compete in quantity or absolute quality, but it has a style all of its own, as a result of its climate, and it is a style that the Aussies are increasingly chasing in their own cooler spots, too.
Harking back to the flavours associated with the energetic syrahs from the Northern Rhône, such as Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph, the wines from Hawke’s Bay are usually medium-weight (unlike the warmer climate Aussie versions), aromatically invigorating with pepper, herb and lavender notes, and luxuriously slippery and toothsome on the palate. They finish clean and bright unlike the more muscular examples from South Africa and South America, too. Rarely troubling the credit card too much, the best examples shock with their value for money and incredibly accurate flavours.
My pick is this tremendous wine, which utilises three clones, judicious viticulture, forensic care in the winery and 12 months in French barriques of which 30% is new. It will blow you away with its magical flavours. You are unlikely to forget the name in a hurry.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).