Simply the best

It takes a little nerve to declare a wine as the very best of its type or even the best ever vintage of a certain label. Safer to wimp out and say it’s “one of the best” or call it “the best since …”.

I’m on reasonably solid ground when I describe Te Mata Coleraine as Hawke’s Bay’s best blended red. After all Coleraine has been making waves since its first vintage in 1982. In fact the inaugural vintage was more like a tsunami. It towered above every other red wine at the time. Coleraine is a wine with provenance. It has steadily evolved in sophistication as well as demonstrating ability to age gracefully. But is Te Mata 2009 Coleraine the best ever vintage of this distinguished label?

I’m only slightly less confident about rating Craggy Range Le Sol as Hawke’s Bay’s best Syrah. There are many worthy challengers to that crown including Te Mata (tastings), Trinity Hill (tastings), Church Road (tastings), Bilancia (tastings), Villa Maria (tastings), Vidal (tastings) and Mills Reef (tastings). However Le Sol is my pick of the bunch although others might argue at my choice. Le Sol’s first vintage was in 2001. It was a high-performer then and has continued to impress ever since although it is fair to say that the style has changed from being an Arnold Schwarzenegger of a wine to something just as powerful but with elegance and sophistication. But is Craggy Range 2009 Le Sol the best vintage yet?

Te Mata Coleraine 2009 – $75

Dense, powerful red with classic Cabernet Sauvignon characters evident, including cassis, floral and sweet mint flavours. Plenty of classy oak of course. Slightly higher Merlot percentage and lower Cabernet Franc adds a plumy richness. Lovely juicy fruit gives accessibility. Should age magnificently. Coleraine doesn’t taste much better than this, particularly when it’s less than two years old. I rate it best ever, but equal to the 2007 vintage. – view on

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2009 – $100

Big wine with impressively intense fruit but beautifully structured with a silken texture. Lots of flavors happening here with layers and layers of ripe berry, spice, savoury and subtle floral notes. This is the best Le Sol yet. No “ifs”, “buts” or “one of the” necessary. – view on

First published in KiaOra Magazine – May 2011.

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