Mills Reef releases $350 wine

Mills Reef Chief Winemaker Tim Preston. (Photo: Via YouTube)

Mills Reef has just announced the release of a new “icon wine range” featuring two reds from the 2013 vintage, each with an NZD $350 price tag.

A stringent criteria was adopted, selecting only the oldest vines, in the very best rows on the best soils, pruned to extremely low yields of only 3-4 bunches of grapes per vine.” – Tim Preston

The new ultra-premium range is called “Arthur Edmund” after the husband of Elspeth, Mills Reef’s current flagship range.

Mills Reef co-founder and Chief Winemaker Tim Preston says,

“Arthur Edmund, my grandfather, was a pioneer and visionary, that same spirit is likewise echoed in these special wines, hence we felt it was a fitting tribute to name them in his honour, and to accompany the fine wines named in honour of his wife and my grandmother, Elspeth.”

At NZD $350 per bottle, the Arthur Edmund wines now command a price that is seven times greater than the NZD $49.95 price tag of the Elspeth wines from the highly regarded 2013 vintage. According to my records, the Arthur Edmund wines now rank as the second most expensive wines in the country behind Destiny Bay 2014 Magna Praemia at NZD $385.

The two inaugural wines are a 2013 Cabernet Merlot blend, and a 2013 Syrah, grown in the Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district of Hawkes Bay where Mills Reef established a vineyard in the 1990s.

Preston explained,

“A stringent criteria was adopted, selecting only the oldest vines, in the very best rows on the best soils, pruned to extremely low yields of only 3-4 bunches of grapes per vine.”

Then the wait began for a vintage that would deliver the sort of quality needed for the new high-flying label. The 2013 vintage made the cut.

“The winemaking was purposely very hands-off, with minimal disturbance, allowing the wines to fully express their vineyard site and the growing season, to obtain the purest expression possible.

“Fermentation took place in open-top fermenters with gentle hand-plunging, followed by a post-ferment maceration until tannin development and integration were at their optimum. The wine was then aged in 100% new oak barrels (100% French for the cabernet merlot, 50% French and 50% American for the syrah) with 20 months of élevage and just one racking throughout. A rigorous barrel selection was then undertaken before composing the final wines, which were again rested in barrel to gravity-settle over an extended period before bottling in an unfiltered state.”

Each bottle is wax-dipped and individually numbered and is presented in a boxed collector set with a certificate of authenticity. Only an (unspecified) limited quantity of each wine has been made.

Mills Reef won’t be sending me samples of either wine but they did hint that I may get a chance to taste both shortly.

Are they worth buying, sorry, investing in? That is hard to say without knowing exactly how many bottles of each will be produced. Investors like to own the first vintage of a wine that does attain iconic status. You’d certainly expect to pay a premium for the first vintage of Penfolds Grange or Henschke Hill of Grace, but Mills Reef Arthur Edmund is not yet an icon, although it does promise to be very good.

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