New Zealand Syrah and Cabernet from Hawkes Bay

While most people think of New Zealand as a good place to enjoy sheep, rugby Union and Sauvignon Blanc, there is a greater depth to their food and wine culture than making fun of fush en chups. Yes, New Zealand produces excellent ‘full bodied’ red wines. We at WineMarket love digging into a Kiwi Pinot Noir or two, but we're also pretty attracted to the slippery, seductive red wines produced from Hawkes Bay.

It's a region that sits on the southern part of the east coast of the north island (phew! Got that?). The focus of vineyards sits between and around the towns of Napier and Hastings with the most prized vineyard land being in the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ sub-region.

Cabernet Sauvignon (and Cabernet blends) from Hawkes Bay and particularly Gimblett Gravels are said to be not to dissimilar in structure and elegance to the great wines of Bordeaux – they are fruit forward and often show understated power, a character given to the wines by the regional climate and soils.

Syrah (Shiraz in Australia), from Hawkes Bay, feels cool but has great intensity; ‘classic’ examples show dark plum, fine spice and black pepper characters. Merlot is also a successful grape variety in Hawkes Bay, with premium wines offering depth of flavour and intensity with a peppery, spice edge. A lot of Merlot is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to create wines of satiny texture and finesse.

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Tempranillo are all being grown in the region too; it's certainly a region that wears its diversity well.

The region generally looks to premium wines and premium prices but there is the odd bargain to be found. We at WineMarket are constantly on the sniff for a new great producer or two. Hawkes Bay Cab Merlots keep our lamb shanks in good company too…

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