The wonderful folks at the Gimblett Gravels Wine Growing District in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand sent me their 13th release of wines, this time focussed on the 2020 vintage. Andrew Caillard MW selected 7 Blended reds and 5 Syrahs from this highly rated vintage, and I have further drilled down to the finest four wines below.
2020 Church Road, 1 Gimblett Vineyard Malbec (NZ$120)
14% alc.; 100% Malbec
14 months in French & Hungarian oak (41% new French oak)
This wine is my pick of the entire collection. It is the only 100% Malbec in the line-up, but the fact that it differs in its recipe from all other wines is not why it stood out. The most exciting attribute here is the perfect balance from the first perfume molecule, the succulent, plush palate, and then on to a ripe, smooth, luxurious finish. Many of the Cabernet-dominant wines in this year’s collection are raw and hard, requiring extended cellar time, but this wine is supple, pliable, and engaging.
None of the standoffish tannins nor the raw oak exhibited by other wines pop up here. Forget the grape for a minute and consider it a wine of the world – it is sublime, first and foremost, but it also stands proud and can take on all comers with its firm foundations and layered palate. Then introduce Malbec’s lascivious scent and hints of earth and liquorice, and the whole package makes a lot of sense. I never thought I would say that a Gimblett Gravels Malbec would be the pick of the annual GG mixed case, but here it is!
Other wines of note include 2020 Trinity Hills, The Gimblett (14%, 50% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot; 18 months in French oak 53% new; NZ$40), which looked beautifully balanced and the only blended red to have made the grade in my notes. Pure, bold, and nicely layered, the tannins are not too hard, and the overall impression is of a classy creature with a glossy sheen. It is worth noting the value here! It was the third time I had tasted 2020 Craggy Range Le Sol (13.5%, 100% Syrah, 17 months in French oak, 38% new; NZ$160), and it looked even more enticing with fit fruit, lashings of spice, and a sleek chassis. This is a refined wine with so much control and poise it somewhat confounds the senses. While the price tag is eye-watering, the fruit lives up to the billing, and it sits alongside top Northern Rhône wines confidently. Finally, the 2020 Trinity Hill Hommage (13.5%, 100% Syrah, 68% matured in new French oak for 19.5 months, and 32% matured for 16 months in seasoned French oak; NZ$135) looked stunning. This is a fuller-framed wine than the Craggy, yet it carries itself beautifully on the palate. Wild, regal, spicy, and deeply fruit-driven, waves of berries and earth wash over the palate, making this an incredible treat.