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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
A SYRAH WORKSHOP AND TASTING ON WAIHEKE ISLAND,  JUNE 23,  2008



Background:  The Waiheke Winegrowers Association conducts three workshop / tasting sessions per year,  where winemakers meet behind closed doors to blind-taste their recent vintages,  and then discuss them co-operatively.  Their meeting of 23 June 2008 focused on syrah.  I was delighted to be invited to participate in this session,  and to offer some commentary on the wines.  This opportunity arose consequent to my recent article on the ripening curve of syrah,  and syrah winestyles,  published on this site 30 September 2007.
 
This brief review summarises some of my thoughts on current Waiheke syrahs,  both arising from the workshop,  and in subsequent discussions.  Two points must be made:
#  Because this workshop succeeds only on the basis of trust,  on this occasion Waiheke Island wines falling below bronze medal level (in my assessment) will not be reviewed,  and;
#  Some of the 2007 samples were from barrel.  Thus the notes offered here may not reflect the final bottled blend.  

Format for the workshop was three flights of wines,  presented blind,  for the three vintages 2005,  2006,  and 2007.  In discussion with Lindsay Spilman,  coordinator / convener of the workshop,  I selected and brought reference wines to be added to each flight.  Some illustrated excellence in the variety,  some reflected other attributes deemed appropriate to the current concerns of Waiheke Island syrah winemakers,  as I understood them.

The wines are reviewed in rank order,  the three flights interleaved (and a couple of others seen later added in).  Since clearly for this exercise the reference wines would be selected from some of the quality syrahs recently written up on this site,  there is some overlap with recent articles.  Nonetheless,  for any wine worth buying a case of,  it is worthwhile to see and record how the wine performs in a variety of contexts,  for wine perception does vary depending on the accompanying wines,  and other imponderable factors.

Conclusions:  The results of the tastings illustrated conclusively that syrah has a great future on Waiheke Island.  The variety seems to provide the complete red wine answer to those north-eastern districts of New Zealand such as Gisborne,  Waiheke,  Matakana,  Great Barrier Island,  Kerikeri,  and the Karikari Peninsula to the north,  where cabernet sauvignon either does not or rarely achieves full physiological maturity before the end of settled summer weather,  the earlier-ripening merlot is too thin-skinned and capricious at flowering for total reliability,  and pinotage is too boring / down-market.  Syrah ripens at about the same point as merlot,  but performs more consistently.

On the basis of these tastings,  the top two syrah producers on Waiheke at this moment are Passage Rock,   already with several gold medals for their Reserve wine,  and the very small Awaroa winery.  The precise varietal character they are achieving,  and the contrasting styles they are making,  augurs well for the future of the variety on the island.  Leaving aside achieving sufficient ripeness to avoid leafiness,  in general the main technical issues needing more critical care are winery-related:  reducing the incidence of brett / greater attention to cooperage hygiene;  and more care with the use and ratio of oak.  In a variety such as syrah in our climate,  varietal beauty is easily swamped by excess oak.

Recent vintages:  Note this is a broad-brush estimate for all grapes / the whole island.  Individual wineries may feel it under-estimates their achievements.  The problem grape is cabernet sauvignon.  All too often the dry weather of the typical Auckland summer finishes before cabernet is fully physiologically mature / ripe,  introducing the leafy notes so characteristic of reds in the Auckland / Matakana / North Auckland districts generally.  This is why the earlier-ripening syrah looks so promising in the district.  It is all early days yet,  but it does seem likely that favoured (drier) microclimates exist on Waiheke (relative to the central aggregation of wineries),  particularly to the east and towards the extremities of peninsulas.  There however the risk of salt exposure is higher.  Using James Halliday's excellent vintage charts (for Australia) at http://winecompanion.com.au/vintagechart.cfm  as the model,  the rating is out of 10.

2008   8   10   good flowering,  good crop,  long settled summer,  all varieties good,  may exceed 2005
2007   5  7     difficult flowering,  low crop,  early season reds good,  late / cabernet lesser
2006   6  8     reasonable flowering and crop,  good ripening for all but latest season reds
2005   8  10   difficult flowering,  small crops of superb grapes for all varieties
2004   5  7     good flowering and crop,  long slightly cool season giving lean aromatic grapes all varieties
2003   4  5     reasonable crops,  but summer a month too short,  only chardonnay good
2002   7  9     lowish crops but good long summer all varieties,  fractionally ahead of 2000
2001   3  4     small crops,  rain,  summer lacking,  the least of decade
2000   7  8     good flowering and crop,  long dry season,  all varieties good

Information:  The basic starting point for information on the vineyards of Waiheke Island is:  www.waihekewine.co.nz   This is a remarkable site,  with information on both the island,  its geology,  soils and climate,  and for many of the vineyards,  with links wherever possible.

Acknowledgements:  it is a pleasure to record the assistance of the Waiheke Winegrowers Association for me to participate in this workshop,  and the helpful discussion with Lindsay Spilman to achieve it.  Chris Canning and Lindsay Spilman accommodated me splendidly on the island.  All winemakers contacted readily helped with wine and local detail for this report.






SYRAH & RELATED BLENDS



2006  Awaroa Syrah
2005  Awaroa Syrah
2004  Awaroa Syrah
2007  Awaroa Syrah [ Barrel Sample ]
2006  Babich Syrah Winemakers Reserve
2006  Church Road Syrah Reserve
2003  Courbis Cornas les Eygats
2007  Man O' War Syrah
2006  Mudbrick Syrah Reserve
2005  Mudbrick Syrah Reserve
2007  Mudbrick Syrah Reserve [ Barrel Sample ]
2007  [ Obsidian ]  Weeping Sands Syrah
  2006  [ Obsidian ] Weeping Sands Syrah
2007  Passage Rock Syrah
2007  Passage Rock Syrah Reserve
2006  Passage Rock Syrah Reserve
2005  Passage Rock Syrah Reserve
2005  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2002  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2007  The Hay Paddock Syrah [ Barrel Sample ]
2006  Villa Maria Syrah Reserve
2006  Villa Maria Syrah / Viognier Cellar Selection
2006  Yann Chave Hermitage


2006  Church Road Syrah Reserve   19 +  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle 70%,  Gimblett Gravels & Havelock North,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ cork;  Sy 100% hand-harvested and sorted;  no cold soak,  inoculated yeast,  warm-fermented in open-top oak and s/s vessels,  3 weeks cuvaison,  controlled aeration;  c. 12 months in burgundy barrels c. 55% new,  500 cases;  www.churchroad.co.nz ]
This was the standout wine on the day,  particularly for the pinpoint beauty of its wallflower and dusky rose florals,  the richness and perfect ripeness of the cassis and bottled black doris fruit,  and the elegance,  balance and length of the carefully-oaked palate.  Great wine,  as in previous reviews,  but looking even better on this occasion.  The opportunity subsequently arose to compare this wine with the 2005 Chapoutier Hermitage individual vineyard 'grand cru' wines,  and this Church Road was not shamed by even the best of them.  The main point of difference was not in the smells,  flavours,  richness or varietal specificity displayed,  but simply the Church Road being less of a long-term (20 years plus) cellar wine the winemaker's market-reality reflection of current New Zealand attitudes to cellaring red wines.  Cellar 5 15 years.  VALUE  GK 06/08

2005  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose   19  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $44   [ cork;  Sy 100%,  hand-harvested,  de-stemmed;  16 months in French oak 33% new;  www.temata.co.nz ]
The fresh ruby,  carmine and velvet hue of this wine stood out,  not as dense as the other two top wines,  but youthful alongside the other 2005s.  The similarity of style between this wine and the Church Road is devastating,  both showing an explicitly beautiful syrah florality the Gimblett Gravels do not seem to so easily achieve.  Both the Church Road and Bullnose come from the Ngatarawa Triangle,  the two vineyards close by each other.  Density and weight of the wine is a little less than the Church Road,  the whole style illustrating top-notch Cote Rotie,  the more 'feminine' side of syrah,  to perfection.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 06/08

2006  Villa Maria Syrah Reserve   18 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $62   [ screwcap;  Sy 100% hand-harvested;  inoculated yeast,  21 days cuvaison;  MLF and 16 months in French oak 60% new;  RS nil;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
The perfect hue and density of the colour leads on to a firm Hermitage-like bouquet,  and as this tasting was to show conclusively,  fine Hermitage at that.  This Villa Reserve Syrah illustrates to perfection the stern and more 'masculine' side of syrah.  In the context of this workshop tasting,  it was great to see a majority of participants acknowledging the excellence of this wine and the Church Road,  in the ranking the wines received while still blind.  This speaks volumes about the desire of Waiheke winemakers to excel with the variety.  Great wine,  as in previous reviews,  but outclassed by the slightly softer,  richer and more fragrant Church Road Reserve on this occasion.  Cellar 5 15 years.  GK 06/08

2007  Awaroa Syrah [ Barrel Sample ]   18 ½  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ will be supercritical 'cork';  27 days cuvaison including 5 cold soak @ 8 degrees;  c. 12 months in 50% new oak,  90% French,  10 American ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  a close match to the 2005 Bullnose.  And on bouquet,  the wine is much in the style of the Ngatarawa Triangle wines too,  deep wallflower and dusky rose florals,  both cassis and soft blueberry fruit,  and subtle oak,  all totally pure.  Palate is a little richer than the highly-rated Villa Maria Syrah / Viognier Cellar Selection,  and more floral than that wine,  despite having no viognier at all.  This Cote Rotie-styled wine highlights the importance of the floral dimension in great syrah,  something the Australians haven't thought about much yet,  but we can achieve superbly in good years and on good sites in our more critically attuned syrah climate if the wine is not over-ripened or over-oaked.  [ NB:  the finished wine may differ from this barrel sample.]  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 06/08

2006  Villa Maria Syrah / Viognier Cellar Selection   18 +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  Sy 95%,  Vi 5,   hand-harvested,  all de-stemmed;  inoculated yeast,  warm-fermented in open-top vessels,  15 days cuvaison;  c. 15 months in French and American oak 60% new;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  deeper than Bullnose,  but less dense than the Reserve.  Bouquet combines everything that is fragrant and berry-rich about syrah,  is explicitly varietal,  and beautifully ripe in a Cote Rotie / temperate-climate style,  subtly oaked.  It is not as rich as the Villa Reserve wine.  I have reviewed this wine more fully in comparison with its straight Syrah Cellar Selection sibling,  in the syrah report dated 19 May 2008 on this site.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 06/08

2007  Passage Rock Syrah Reserve   18  ()
Eastern Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $50   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  25 days cuvaison;  c. 11 12 months in barrel,  90% American and 60% new,  balance French;  sterile-filtered;  not released yet;  www.passagerockwines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  a good weight.  Passage Rock has been the standard-bearer for syrah so far on Waiheke,  the Reserve Syrah having won gold medal several times in our top two judgings (the Air New Zealand show,  and the Royal Easter Show).  This 2007 shows great cassis and blueberry varietal character on bouquet,  with aromatic oak and trace savoury complexity.  Palate is rich,  long,  succulent but a little oaky,  highly varietal.  The savoury complexity probably reflects a little brett,  at a level that is completely academic.  Since the wine is sterile-filtered,  it will be stable in bottle,  so one can enjoy the hints of venison casserole and  savoury notes to the full.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 06/08

2006  Awaroa Syrah   18  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ supercritical 'cork';  25 days cuvaison including 3 cold soak;  c. 12 months in 50% new oak,  90% French,  10 American ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  similar in weight to the Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah / Viognier.  This wine benefits from decanting,  to reveal such a fragrant bouquet that (in the blind tasting) one wonders if there is some viognier in it.  Not so,  apparently.  Both bouquet and palate suggest cassis and blueberry,  with attractive wood-handling,  which is both subtle and very clean,  plus firm acid.  There are people out there who dismiss all Waiheke reds so far as not worth considering,  since some wines show brett character to greater or lesser degree.  This view overlooks the fact that the average wine drinker likes brett complexity (as does the London wine trade),  so it is a bit vexing to Waiheke winemakers to be told your favourite red is contemptible,  due to a technical fault which may be of academic significance only.  Anyway,  Awaroa seems  to be one winery that has sorted this issue,  so doubters should seek out their fine pure recent syrahs.  Mail order,  mainly.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 06/08

2005  Passage Rock Syrah Reserve   17 ½ +  ()
Eastern Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  c. 11 months in barrel 90% American and 60% new,  balance French;  sterile-filtered;  www.passagerockwines.co.nz ]
Rich ruby and velvet.  There is a great consistency in the Passage Rock Syrah Reserves,  the rich fruit showing both cassis and bottled black doris plum,  maturing a little now,  all a little on the oaky side with some fragrant brett complexity,  but again at an academic level.  This is flavoursome and wonderfully rich dry wine which will cellar 5 8 years.  GK 06/08

2004  Awaroa Syrah   17 ½  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14.7%;  $45   [ cork;  20 days cuvaison;  12 months in 100% new oak,  80% French,  20 American ]
Ruby and velvet.  This is a bigger and more robust wine than the later examples,  the evolutionary pathway for this winery seeming to be towards elegance and finesse.  Bouquet shows more mature cassis browning a little in aroma,  with very aromatic oak,  and perhaps a little brett.  Palate is rich,  juicy yet dry,  a little acid,  reminding of both certain lighter restrained Australian shiraz styles which hint at syrah (due to the oak),  and of the Rhone proper considering the fruit quality.  Attractive but oaky wine,  more in the Passage Rock Reserve style,  to cellar another 5 8 years or so.  GK 06/08

2006  Passage Rock Syrah Reserve   17 ½  ()
Eastern Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $50   [ screwcap;  12 months in barrel,  90% American and 60% new,  balance French;  sterile-filtered;  www.passagerockwines.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet.  There is a marked similarity to the 2005 wine,  the 2006 being just a little lighter in both fruit weight and oak,  but also a little purer maybe.  The variety shows through clearly,  cassisy and darkly plummy,  though like plums as one gets nearer to the stone,  there is a suggestion of austerity on the finish still to mellow.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 06/08

2007  [ Obsidian ]  Weeping Sands Syrah   17 ½  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14%;  $31   [ screwcap;  Sy 100% hand-harvested first 10 days April;  some cold soak,  15 19 days cuvaison;  MLF in barrel;  9 months in barrel 30 40% new American,  balance older French and American;  not released yet;  www.obsidian.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  This is the most representative Waiheke syrah,  in the sense of being both good and affordable,  breathing up to show soft wallflower-like florals,  and clean cassis with some plum,  plus a touch of peppery spice.  Palate is fresher than expected from the aromas,  but in this wine the acid is not accentuated by excess oak.  It is richer than the 2006,  and should be an attractive food wine.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 06/08

2005  Awaroa Syrah   17 +  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  15.3%;  $45   [ cork;  22 days cuvaison;  c. 12 months in 100% new oak,  80% French,  20 American ]
Older ruby,  some velvet,  older than the 2004.  Bouquet is totally Rhone-like,  Cornas maybe,  with both wallflower and dianthus florals,  slightly browning cassis,  and some brett.  Palate is quite tannic,  the fruit not as rich as the '04,  with some austerity,  but clearly varietal to the dry and oaky finish.  Cellar 3 6 years.  GK 06/08

2007  Mudbrick Syrah Reserve [ Barrel Sample ]   17  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:   – %;  $50   [ hand-picked;  c. 14 months in American oak 50% new;  not released yet;  www.mudbrick.co.nz ]
Good ruby.  Bouquet shows clear Rhone-like dianthus florals,  cassis and oak.  Palate is firm,  good fruit,  but a little acid and oaky at this pre-cold stabilisation stage.  Perhaps the score is a little generous,  but the berry flavours are long and varietal.  [ NB:  the finished wine may differ from this barrel sample.]  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 06/08

2006  [ Obsidian ] Weeping Sands Syrah   17  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14%;  $30   [ screwcap;  Sy 100% hand-harvested first 5 days April;  no cold soak,  15 18 days cuvaison;  MLF in barrel;  12 months in barrel 40% new American,  balance older French and American;  www.obsidian.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet shows clear wallflower varietal florals,  and cassisy berry,  all fresh and fragrant.  In mouth it is a lighter wine than most of the higher-pointed ones,  but it is clearly varietal,  lingering well though slightly fresh.  Cellar 3 6 years.  GK 06/08

2002  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose   17  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $35   [ cork;  Sy 100%;  hand-harvested,  de-stemmed;  extended cuvaison 3 + weeks,  followed by 16 months in new and older French oak;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Older ruby,  some velvet.  Bouquet is fragrant in a cassisy berry and nearly floral way,  with savoury complexity of the venison casserole kind,  indicating some brett.  This wine was included to demonstrate two things:  firstly a little brett is not the end of the world,  in the sense the wine is attractive,  and not prematurely drying (or dying);  and secondly that relative to 2005 Bullnose in the same flight,  here is the evidence that a winery can transform its brett status in three short years,  given the determination to do so.  This wine will cellar another 3 5 years.  Due to its European / Rhone soft styling,  it is great with food.  GK 06/08

2006  Mudbrick Syrah Reserve   16 ½ +  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.6%;  $50   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  c. 14 months in American oak 50% new;  www.mudbrick.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet.  This was an intriguing wine in the line-up,  the initial impression being of an Australian wine,  even though we had decided that Australian wines would not contribute to this particular workshop.  But there was almost a boysenberry quality in the fruit,  plus a little VA and a lot of oak.  Palate tends in the same direction,  good berry fruit,  but acid and oak both noticeable,  as is so often the case in Australia.  Should harmonise in cellar,  but one wonders if this wine is a Reserve based on better fruit from a lower cropping rate,  or rather more selected barrels with greater oak exposure.  The latter would be a mistake,  in terms of optimal New Zealand syrah style.  Cellar 5 8 years.  GK 06/08

2007  The Hay Paddock Syrah [ Barrel Sample ]   16 ½ +  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:   – %;  $ –    [ will be supercritical cork;  c. 4 weeks cuvaison,  c. 18 months in French oak 60% new;  website introductory so far;  www.thehaypaddock.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  The barrel in the workshop did not show so well,  tending to a raspberry scent,  though better in mouth.  This note is based on a later second barrel,  the wine regular,  suggestions of florals,  blueberry and cassis berried notes,  a little acid,  but not too oaky.  [ NB:  the finished wine may differ from this barrel sample.]  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 06/08

2007  Man O' War Syrah   16 ½  ()
Eastern Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  Sy 97%,  Vi 3;  3 weeks cuvaison;  10 months French and American oak 20% new;  website not functional yet;  www.manowarvineyards.com ]
Good ruby.  Bouquet is unusually complex on this wine,  with a floral and white pepper component,  clear cassis,  a bush honey complexity (also found in Cote Rotie sometimes),  and some brett-related scents and complexities.  Palate is crisp,  fresh berry,  attractive balance,  but the degree of the bacony phase of brett (4-ethylguaiacol) is a worry even though attractive in itself,  for that usually implies much more of the normal phase (4-ethylphenol),  even if at this moment one can't smell it so much.  Probably a wine to be enjoyed earlier rather than later,  so cellar 3 6 years only.  Like the 2002 Te Mata Syrah,  it will be good with food (though the total acid is higher).  GK 06/08

2005  Mudbrick Syrah Reserve   16 ½  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $50   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  c. 14 months in American oak 50% new;  www.mudbrick.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet.  Like its 2006 sibling,  this Mudbrick Syrah also tiptoed towards an Australian approach,  almost sur-maturité on the fruit,  plus a lot of oak.  In mouth it is very oaky,  and the acid interacts with the oak negatively,  even though the fruit is good.  As we wean ourselves off Australian shiraz,  and see New Zealand syrah as a world-class wine in its own fragrant berry-dominant style,  the approach shown by this wine will seem old-fashioned and not food-friendly.  But it has its followers,  particularly in the Auckland district.  Cellar 5 8 years.  GK 06/08

2007  Passage Rock Syrah   16  ()
Eastern Waiheke Island,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13%;  $39   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  10 months in oak,  mostly American 35% new;  not released yet;  www.passagerockwines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a lighter and older colour than the 2007 Reserve.  Bouquet is quite different to the Reserve,  tending pinched,  varietal but leafy,  some berry,  brett and mint.  Palate is reminiscent of a modest Crozes-Hermitage,  fair berry but tending under-ripe,  stalky and lean.  As this mellows in bottle,  it will still be a pleasant food wine more QDR syrah.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 06/08

2003  Courbis Cornas les Eygats   15  ()
Cornas,  Northern Rhone Valley,  France:  14%;  $85   [ cork;   100% Sy,  vines planted 1991;  100% de-stemmed,  s/s fermentation & cuvaison 21 30 days;  12 16 months in French oak 25% new ]
Older ruby.  This French wine (contributed by a Waiheke producer) was a major disappointment,  2003 having been so good for some producers in the northern Rhone.  Bouquet shows some browning cassis,  old for age,  tending stalky,  with some brett.  Palate is clearly stalky,  as if in this drought year achieving full physiological maturity of the fruit was interrupted in the vineyard,  with the TA also high,  and the flavour short.  Not worth cellaring.  This highly-reputed wine contributed the same message as the Hermitage,  as to the quality of our emerging New Zealand syrahs.  A worthwhile message,  maybe,  but expensive,  and not exactly the goal of including two French wines.  GK 06/08

2006  Yann Chave Hermitage   14 ½  ()
Hermitage,  Northern Rhone Valley,  France:  13.5%;  $120   [ cork;  Sy 100%;  c. 20 days cuvaison,  16 months in new and 1-year 600 L barrels ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  A lesson learned here:  never present an un-tasted wine in a demonstration or semi-tutorial situation.  In the workshop it was rubbery with entrained sulphur compounds,  and showing some animal complexities from brett as well.  Even a vigorous aeration did not help it greatly.  Leaving aside the sulphur dullness,  fruit is quite rich,  but acid and oak are tending firm.  In the tasting this wine demonstrated vividly how good,  and how optimal-French in style,  the better New Zealand syrahs are.  Worth saying that this wine was bought for the workshop on the basis of its favourable reviews by overseas reviewers,  who scored it higher than Yann Chave's top 2006 Crozes-Hermitage le Rouvre (which is pretty good).  Yet again therefore we have a demonstration of the almost ubiquitous blindness to sulphide amongst reputed wine critics in some parts of the world,  and consequently the dangers of following tasting notes uncritically.  If you have this wine,  decant it splashily the day before using,  and leave it overnight in an open jug.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 06/08

2006  Babich Syrah Winemakers Reserve   14  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ supercritical cork;  sometimes some viognier,  co-fermented with wild yeast;  c. 20 days cuvaison;  11 months in American and French oak some new;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Lightish ruby.  Initially opened,  this wine too was tending reductive.  Decanted / well breathed it becomes reasonably fragrant and lightly berried,  but in a leafy / stalky way,  not a floral one.  Palate confirms,  being clearly stalky,  acid,  short,  tasting over-cropped but not bretty.  It was therefore a useful discussion wine,  in the workshop setting.  I am puzzled by the inconsistency in this wine,  some bottles being reasonably good in a modest Crozes-Hermitage way (the goal of including it),  and others lesser,  as here.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 06/08