Ripper Reds

Syrah is the new Pinot Noir. It’s bigger, bolder and punchier than Pinot. Syrah can be aged for longer and, if you’re a canny buyer, will deliver more bang for your buck. I’ve chosen a couple of contrasting styles that offer outstanding value. They are true thoroughbreds at work-horse prices. Both are from the Gimblett Gravels district of Hawke’s Bay and from a vintage that has delivered the best red wines the area’s seen for a while.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2007 – $29.95

When this wine won the trophy for top Syrah at the Royal Easter Wine Show it raised a few eyebrows because it is not Villa Maria’s top Syrah label. Taste the wine and it’s easy to understand how it earned a place in the top slot and elbowed its big brother out of contention. The wine has power and is seductively drinkable. It’s choc-full of lush ripe berry flavours with an appropriate seasoning of oak and cracked black pepper plus a featherbed texture that’s to die for.

This is seriously good red. Like all seriously good reds it promises to get even better after a few years in bottle. Sadly it’s so dangerously drinkable that only a few chartered accountants and the odd librarian will be able to resist drinking it within a year or two. I purchased a case and have one bottle left. I plan to open it tonight. – view on bobcampbell.nz

Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah 2007 – $29.95

Want to make an Aussie wine lover weep? Challenge him or her to compare a glass of their favourite Shiraz against this Craggy Range offering in blind combat. Block 14 has beaten more Aussies than the All Blacks. It’s been a consistently top wine since the first vintage in 2001 but this latest release is clearly the best yet.

This sleek and powerful red has a medley of red fruit flavours with a seasoning of cracked black pepper that gives it a nod in the direction of the France’s northern Rhone Valley. It’s a super-classy Syrah that’s drop-dead gorgeous now but has the potential to get even better with bottle age.


First published in KiaOra Magazine – Jan 2010.

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