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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.
CONVIVIUM 2013 HAWKES BAY SYRAH TASTING IN NAPIER,  4 JULY 2016



The Hawkes Bay wine community is fortunate to have the Convivium tasting group,  convened by Geoff Wilson and Clive Holland,  assembling and presenting to them very carefully thought-out themed tastings.  The 2013 vintage in Hawkes Bay is growing in stature day on day,  so when Convivium announced this retrospective survey of the 2013 syrahs,  anybody keen on understanding the current standard of achievement of syrah in New Zealand had little choice but to attend.  And the tasting did indeed both fill  quickly,  and meet tasters' expectations.  The quality of information given to participants was superb,  surpassing the efforts of most wine firms,  despite the latter having staff paid to do this sort of thing.

The wines were presented blind.  The presenters asked tasters to decide on their top three wines.  At the end of the blind tasting session,  these rankings were recorded,  before any discussion of individual wines took place.  To turn that into a result,  the organisers allocated three points to each first place,  two to each second,  and one point to third.  In this more 'popular' ranking,  the top five wines were:  2013 Craggy Range Le Sol clearly in first place,  followed by Church Road Tom and Crossroads Talisman ranked similarly,  then further back again Coopers Creek Reserve and the Stonecroft Reserve tied for fourth equal.  The organisers prefer to draw a veil over the tail-end of the field.  It has to be said,  that in any such ranking where the votes of winemakers,  wine-aficionados,  and less-experienced amateurs are pooled,  the criteria for judging wine quality do become rather jumbled.  For example,  oaky wines tend to find favour with less experienced tasters.

My conclusions for the tasting were rather different from the group,  and lay particular emphasis on the  diversity of legitimate wine-styles New Zealand syrah is making.  They are presented below.  The main impression to be drawn from the wines as a whole is again the exhilarating quality of the 2013 vintage in  Hawkes Bay,  and that these wines will amply repay cellaring,  tasting,  and study over the next 15 years,  at least.  Some will cellar longer.  The second conclusion must be the extraordinary quality New Zealand syrah is already achieving.  The best of these wines very closely match the key smells and flavours of some of the finest syrahs on earth,  those from the northern Rhone Valley.  As our winemakers fine-tune key components of the wine-style,  notably the cropping rate,  the percentage of whole-bunches retained in fermentation,  and the time the wine spends in oak coupled with the ratio of new oak,  we can expect ever more eloquent,  rich yet subtle and rewarding syrah wines in New Zealand.  Already the quality is well in advance of market recognition for the wine-style,  or consumer demand for the bottles.

In total there were 15 wines shown,  two conversation wines beforehand,  and 13 in the main blind tasting.  The next day I added in a fourteenth syrah,  making 16 for this review.

2015  Clonakilla Viognier (before)
2013  Guigal Cote du Rhone Blanc (before)            
2013  Bilancia Syrah La Collina
2013  Church Road Syrah Tom                    
2013  Clonakilla Shiraz / Viognier
2013  Coopers Creek Syrah Reserve
2013  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol
2013  Crossroads Syrah Talisman
2013  De La Terre Syrah Reserve
2013  Elephant Hills Syrah Airavata                        
2013  Mission Estate Syrah Huchet
2013  Pask Syrah Declaration
2013  Stonecroft Syrah Reserve                    
2013  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2013  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage
2013  Villa Maria Syrah Reserve


 




THE WINES REVIEWED:

2015  Clonakilla Viognier
  2013  Guigal Cote du Rhone Blanc

2015  Clonakilla Viognier   18 +  ()
Murrumbateman,  Canberra ACT,  Australia:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  cost $A45;  no detail on website;  www.clonakilla.com.au ]
Second pre-tasting wine,  courtesy Geoff Wilson.  Brilliant lemon green.  Bouquet is immediately sweetly varietal,  both floral and stonefruits,  one of the yellow honeysuckles,  lifted with fresh-cut apricots rather more yellow than orange in colour,  plus some new oak just subservient.  There is no hint of euc'y taint.  Palate is remarkable,  richer than the Guigal,  less phenolic,  a pure fresh rather than canned apricots flavour,  plus citrus.  The oak component is quite new,  but restrained,  and the finish is dry and long-flavoured.  Very few New Zealand viogniers have matched this over the years,  an occasional Passage Rock,  Church Road,  and in particular the 2014 Te Mata Viognier Zara (which is quite exceptional).  This is light years ahead of the over-worked Virgilius.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Guigal Cote du Rhone Blanc   16 ½ +  ()
Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  13.5%;  $21   [ cork;  Vi 55%,  Ro 15,  Ma 10,  Cl 8,  Bo 2;  average vine age 25 years;  cropped at c.4.6 t/ha (1.9 t/ac);  free-run juice,  all s/s;  45,800 9-L cases;  www.guigal.com ]
This was the first pre-tasting whistle-wetter.  Lemon with a wash of straw.  Bouquet is clean,  strong and slightly pungent on a grapefruit / apricot aroma which one immediately interprets as stalky viognier,  rather than the milder gentler characters one might expect from grapes such as marsanne or rousanne.  Palate is firm,  dry,  some body,  clear oak higher than expected for a white Cote du Rhone,  all making for a flavoursome wine with stonefruits,  apricot and again grapefruit flavours,  all a bit phenolic / tannic.  It could be hard to match with particularly subtle food.  There might possibly be 2 – 3 g/L residual sugar to cover the phenolics.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 07/16


2013  Bilancia Syrah La Collina
2013  Church Road Syrah Tom
2013  Clonakilla Shiraz / Viognier
2013  Coopers Creek Syrah Reserve
2013  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol
2013  Crossroads Syrah Talisman
2013  De La Terre Syrah Reserve
  2013  Elephant Hills Syrah Airavata
2013  Mission Estate Syrah Huchet
2013  Pask Syrah Declaration
2013  Stonecroft Syrah Reserve
2013  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2013  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage
2013  Villa Maria Syrah Reserve


2013  Church Road Syrah Tom   19  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $200   [ 49mm cork;  Sy 100%,  hand-harvested,  at an approximate cropping rate of 6 t/ha (= 2.4 t/ac),  all destemmed;  no cold soak,  inoculated yeast,  fermentation in an open-top oak cuve,  up to 31 days cuvaison;  22 months in French small oak 71% new;  production c. 150 9-L cases;  www.churchroad.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  some carmine,  perfectly in the middle of the field,  for depth.  Bouquet is deep,  dark and aromatic,  superbly syrah-varietal,  straight out of Guigal's Hermitage Ex Voto copybook.  The melding of rich highly varietal fruit and new oak is astonishing.  You can tell there are dark florals defying description,  cassis,  bottled black doris plums and dark berry,  with no hint of mint,  but they are all so wrapped up in 'sweet' fragrant cedary oak,  you would need superhuman powers of discrimination to identify each clearly.  The flavour is the same,  wonderfully rich and integrated already,  nearly velvety,  total Hermitage in its power,  presence and weight.  In the same way one can feel the 'grands crus' of Guigal are over-oaked,  one might feel that here.  But the whole package is simply spell-binding,  amounting to one of the greatest New Zealand reds made so far.  A remarkable New Zealand wine achievement to cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose   19  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $50   [ cork 45mm;  3 clones of syrah hand-harvested,  100% de-stemmed;  extended cuvaison;  15 months in French oak some new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Beautiful ruby with a flush of velvet and carmine,  below midway in depth.  One sniff of this,  and New Zealand syrah has never seemed so beautiful,  so fragrant,  and so totally Cote Rotie in style.  Because of Guigal's oak practices,  masterly though they are as alluded to in the Tom review,  nonetheless the model for this wine is Yves Cuilleron's Cote Rotie Terres Sombres,  rather than a Guigal wine.  The depth of dark red carnations,  port-wine magnolia and rose florals on this wine is spectacular,  behind which is aromatic cassisy berry.  These attributes epitomise syrah varietal character at  pinpoint optimal ripeness.  Flavours in mouth just expand the bouquet,  a wine of supreme quality.  It is not the richest wine,  but it seems richer than the Te Mata norm,  and the flavour persists wonderfully,  on berry.  You could argue this is the most beautiful syrah so far made in New Zealand,  noting that syrah like pinot noir is about beauty rather more than size,  heft or power.  Those for whom only size and weight in the wine matter,  will mock the notion that 2013 Bullnose can be scored the same as 2013 Tom.  It is remarkably accessible already.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage   19  ()
Gimblett Gravels mostly,  a little Roy's Hill,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.1%;  $120   [ cork 50mm;  DFB;  Sy 98.7%,  fermented on skins only of Vi 1.3%,  hand-picked @ 5 t/ha = 2 t/ac;  no cold-soak,  cuvaison averaged 28 days (though one batch 56 days) with 30% whole-bunches retained;  12 months in French oak c.53% new;  production 556 x 9-L cases;  www.trinityhill.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  a flush of carmine,  just below midway in depth.  Oh,  how this 2013 Homage is coming together !  It still has quite a long way to go,  but it is transformed from a year ago.  It is now really floral,  wallflowers and dark roses,  on cassisy berry with suggestions of black pepper,  bottled plums,  and blueberries too.  And the oaking is magical,  nearly invisible,  yet wonderfully shaping the bouquet.  Palate is more aromatic than Bullnose,  more black pepper,  more dark florals,  perhaps richer fruit and less oak.  Of these three top wines,  this will in five years be the most compellingly varietal,  I suspect.  Naturally,  varietal exactitude does not necessarily make great wine.  In the other two,  their elevation (even though emphatic in Tom) seems a more important part of their greatness.  Cellar 5 – 20 years,  and it will be different every year.  What a great wine achievement.  GK 07/16

2013  Villa Maria Syrah Reserve   18 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $60   [ screwcap;  Sy 100%,  mostly machine-picked @ c.5.8 t/ha = 2.3 t/ac; cuvaison 21 – 28 days,  no whole-bunch component,  cultured-yeast;  17 months in French oak 35% new,  with MLF in barrel;  production 650 x 9-L cases;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Carmine,  ruby and velvet,  strikingly deep and fresh wine,  arguably the deepest colour of the set.  And the bouquet is immediately youthful too.  This wine has been backward from day one (that is not a euphemism for reduction),  just tightly-wound,  self-contained and hidden,  almost.  This aspect of the wine is reinforced by its being screwcap-closed.  Digging deep,  there are deep sweet florals,  wallflowers,  carnations,  darkest roses,  on cassis-dominated berry.  It has much more to say than a year ago,  but there is much,  much further to go.  Oak firms the wine,  the kind of oak not quite as soft as Te Mata's.  This time round,  I see the faintest hint of pennyroyal,  but that is very easy to ignore / say it adds to the aromatics.  This is squeaky-clean rich wine which will be remarkably long-lived,  in this field.  In a sense it is the most 'regular' syrah in the set,  no whole-bunch for example.  It can be cellared with the utmost confidence 5 – 25 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol   18 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.1%;  $100   [ cork 50mm;  DFB;  Sy 100%,  all hand-picked from @ c.7.1 t/ha = 2.8 t/ac;  some ferments in oak cuves,  in previous years cuvaison of c.20 days,  wild and cultured-yeast ferments;  18 months in French oak c.32% new;  production understood to be between 500 and 1,000 cases;   www.craggyrange.com ]
Carmine,  ruby and velvet,  one of the deeper wines.  As one of my favourites in the batch,  what a thrill when the identification came forward,  to find Le Sol in the top half dozen.  After my last (modest) review,  chief winemaker Matt Stafford dropped me a line saying:  I don't think you have a representative bottle.  Since a totally unpaid winewriter cannot (readily) go out and lay down $100 of private money,  to (maybe) primarily benefit a commercial company,  there the matter rested.  Thus my pleasure in seeing this result.  Bouquet is soft,  fragrant,  much more feminine than some earlier editions of Le Sol,  aromatic cassis,  black doris plum and blueberry all apparent,  oak restrained.  Flavour builds the bouquet in mouth,  in the most agreeable way,  noting the curious fact that the blueberry increases.  This suggests later-picking ... but then,  the alcohol doesn't.  It is a polar opposite in style to the Tom Syrah,  not as obviously Cote Rotie as Bullnose,  but equally as marvellous a winestyle.  It is not one of the richest wines here,  but nonetheless has a reasonably long future ahead of it.  Cellar 5 – 15,  maybe 18 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Elephant Hills Syrah Airavata   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels 65%,  Te Awanga 35%,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $90   [ cork 50mm;  Sy 98.7%,  Vi 1.3,  co-fermented where possible;  all hand-picked from vines of average age 13 years at c.4.8 t/ha = 1.9 t/ac;  on average 4 days cold-soak,  probably c.25% whole-bunch;  18 months in oak c.40% new;  production 273 x 9-L cases;  www.elephanthill.co.nz ]
Carmine,  ruby and velvet,  above midway in depth.  What a hard wine to come to grips with,  this Airavata is.   Like 2013 Homage,  the appreciable percentage of whole-bunch complicates and nearly disrupts the bouquet,  at this stage,  but holds promise of enhanced florality which is yet to blossom – to mix a metaphor.  The wine is darkly fragrant,  smelling rich,  but it is again hard to find descriptors.  They include dark cassis and black pepper,  as well as dark roses.  Palate like Homage seems to find Jaboulet's Hermitage La Chapelle as its role model.  It has compelling richness and depth,  on beautifully understated oak,  but is still not quite together in the way Bullnose is,  for example.  A wine to cellar,  and watch with great interest,  for 5 – 20 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Bilancia Syrah La Collina   18 +  ()
Roy's Hill slopes,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $120   [ screwcap;  Sy fermented on 8% viognier skins,  so hard to establish a percentage of Vi;  hand-picked @ 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  no cold-soak,  cuvaison averaged 10 days with 100% whole-bunches retained,  15 months in French oak 75% new;  production 100 x 9-L cases;  www.bilancia.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  one of the lighter wines.  This is another wine still at the formative stage,  and for the same reason as Airavata – a high percentage of whole-bunch.  It is not floral yet,  exactly,  but the melding of aromatic fragrance built on dark cassisy black pepper promises exciting things.  Freshly opened it seems less together,  but by the end of the tasting it had much more to say,  and the following day there was quite rich dark berry on bouquet and palate,  but with a clear stalk suggestion also.  It is not green stalk,  it is more in the style of winemaker Warren Gibson's current mentor,  the Jamets of Cote Rotie.  You get the feeling you are tasting a chrysalis,  and wondering what the butterfly will be like.  This is an important wine to follow,  with its radical approach to the whole-bunch component – 100%.  I have taken steps to provide for that,  in future Library Tastings designed to follow the evolution of this wonderful 2013 vintage in Hawkes Bay.  The impressions from this tasting make me look forward to them even more.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  but these high whole-bunch wines are an unknown quantity in New Zealand,  so I may revise that,  later.  GK 07/16

2013  Coopers Creek Syrah Reserve   18 +  ()
Havelock North district,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $55   [ screwcap;  Sy 99%,  Vi 1,  co-fermented,  all hand-picked @ low cropping level from a hill-slope site with limestone;  c.12 months in French oak c. 60% new;  RS 2 g/L;  www.cooperscreek.co.nz ]
Dense carmine,  ruby and velvet,  one of the deepest wines.  After the Bilancia,  this is very straight up-and-down syrah,  big,  rich,  powerful.  The bouquet misses out a bit on florality,  instead a faint estery lift,  moving straight to darkest cassis and even more bottled black doris plum,  so you wonder if it was ripened a little too much,  perhaps to the dimpling stage.  Palate however is most impressive,  rich and darkly velvety,  again not quite the freshness of cassis,  but richly dark aromatic plums and oak,  still retaining some black pepper.  The wine is so rich,  you would have to be a very acute and analytical taster to recognise the trace residual in the specs.  The glorious thing about this wine,  in the New Zealand context,  is that it is over-ripe by Cote Rotie standards,  but there is no suggestion of the 'common' boysenberry suite of flavours which so characterise Australian 'syrah',  typically so over-ripened as to be merely shiraz.  Interesting wine to follow,  and see how that richness / residual sugar balance ends up,  over 5 – 20 years.  GK 07/16

2013  Clonakilla Shiraz / Viognier   18  ()
Murrumbateman,  Canberra district,  New South Wales,  Australia:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  bottle courtesy Geoff Wilson,  cost $A90;  Sh 95%,  Vi 5%,  co-fermented;  20% whole-bunches retained in fermentations;  12 months in French oak,  30% new;  the website has little or no wine information and no previous vintages,  disappointing for such a highly-regarded winery.  Reference to the Guigal or Te Mata sites would show how it should be done;  www.clonakilla.com.au ]
Ruby,  with the interloper 2013 Pask Declaration,  clearly the lightest wine.  As a highly-regarded and highly sought-after Australian shiraz,  tasting convener Geoff Wilson included this wine as a kind of sighter,  even matching the vintage.  A thrill to taste it,  particularly blind.  The wine immediately sits alongside the Te Mata Bullnose as transparently Cote Rotie in styling,  and thus extraordinary for Australia.  It is very fragrant on red and some darker berries,  clear blueberry,  some cassis,  some plum,  not as dark as the New Zealand syrahs – interestingly.  There is no hint of euc'y taints – a matter for rejoicing – and no more pennyroyal / aromatic / minty qualities than the Villa Maria shows.  Palate shows a gentle melding of red fruits,  berry and oak which again is extraordinarily Cote Rotie,  nearly Burgundy,  and likewise the wine is very food-friendly,  unlike many Australian reds (when seen overseas),  irrespective of their popularity.  The wine is so delicate,  it is hard to be sure of its cellar potential:  again the New Zealand pinot noir model comes to mind,  5 – 12 years maybe.  GK 07/16

2013  Pask Syrah Declaration   18  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $50   [ screwcap;  Sy 100%,  all machine-harvested;  some cold soak,  inoculated ferments,  c.21 days cuvaison;  16 months in French oak 70% new;  production 450 x 9-L cases;  www.pask.co.nz ]
[ This wine was NOT in the Convivium baker's dozen.  I added it on return to Wellington,  since it has not been in any of my 2013 reviews.  It was therefore not seen blind. ]  Ruby,  clearly the lightest (New Zealand) wine in the set,  fractionally deeper than the Clonakilla.  Bouquet is intriguing,  almost blueberry dominant and thus close in style to the Clonakilla,  and unbelievably out-of-style for the mental baggage I had been carrying round as to the Pask Declaration range.  Like Bullnose,  but even moreso,  the oak is almost invisible.  I do not know how or when this transformation in the way the oak comes through to the taster was initiated at Pask,  since the numbers are not greatly different.  Winemaker Kate Radburnd indicates the approach to the Declaration range has been re-thought.  In mouth the whole wine seems to darken up,  suggestions of cassis and plums now,  but the acid a little noticeable.  Does this correlate with the blueberry note,  implying picking a little later than optimal for syrah varietal expression in 2013,  and needing a touch of acid ?  Flavours are firmer than Bullnose seems,  even though the wine is lighter in colour,  and it is younger in taste.  It tastes of red fruits much more than black.  This is quite a different interpretation of syrah from most in New Zealand,  and hard to establish analogies for.  I am more in Saint-Joseph than Cote Rotie,  for example.  I can't wait to see how this ages,  since it has reasonable though not exemplary richness,  and should cellar for 5 – 12 years,  maybe 15.  Once it softens,  it should be very food-friendly.  GK 07/16

2013  Mission Estate Syrah Huchet   17 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $120   [ cork 46mm;  Sy 100%,  hand-picked @ 4 t/ha = 1.6 t/ac;  2 days cold-soak,  cuvaison averaged 24 days with no whole-bunch component;  18 months in French oak c.33% new;  RS nil g/L;  production 128 x 9-L cases;  www.missionestate.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  the third deepest wine.  Freshly opened,  there was a pungent quality on bouquet which tasters interpreted in various ways.  I thought we were seeing an interaction between insufficiently weathered / raw / lesser oak,  and minty going on euc'y taints,  as if there were eucalypts near the vineyard.   Others blamed the cork,  a few thinking TCA specifically.  The wine itself is rich,  and its fruit qualities span some cassis right through dark plums to rather more blueberry,  so it is likely this wine has been picked riper than some in the tasting.  The volume of fruit on palate is wonderful,  and the oak handling is in good balance to the richness.  This wine will come together much more convincingly,  given a few more years.  For now it is not as attractive to me as the 2010 Huchet.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  Looking back at my three previous reviews of Huchet 2010 or 2013,  there does seem to be more variation bottle to bottle than one would wish for.  I look forward to the next tasting of it,  blind.  GK 07/16

2013  De La Terre Syrah Reserve   17 ½  ()
Havelock North district,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.3%;  $40   [ Screwcap;  Sy 100%,  no wine information on website;  www.delaterre.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some velvet,  the third to lightest wine.  There is a break at this point in the ranking,  from the fine wines to the less subtle / more clunky ones.  That descriptor might seem hard,  but it is relevant to note that all the wines (bar this one,  $40) are over $50.  Bouquet here is dominated by oak.  Syrah like pinot noir does not need much oak to reveal its beauties,  and is in fact easily crucified by boisterous new world levels of oaking.  Tasting the wine,  there is lovely ripe fruit at a cassis point of ripeness,  and reasonable at best,  not exemplary,  concentration.  The ripeness spectrum includes some blueberry,  too.  Oakniks will rate this more highly than I do.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  to marry up.  GK 07/16

2013  Crossroads Syrah Talisman   17 +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $56   [ screwcap;  Sy 100%,  some hand-picked @ c.5.8 t/ha = 2.3 t/ac;  cuvaison 21 – 28 days,  no whole-bunch component;  17 months in French oak c.35% new;  production 650 x 9-L cases;  www.crossroadswines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet,  below midway in depth.  Initially opened,  this wine was masked a little by light reduction.  All it needs is a good splashy decanting,  preferably several times.  Breathed,  attractive cassisy berry comes up,  but it is hard to tell at this stage if the wine is floral.  Palate weight is good,  and oaking is in balance to the wine,  with some dark plum becoming apparent with more air.  The reduction does not mar the palate significantly,  so this wine should have have a lot more to say in five years time.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe 20,  perhaps to increase in ranking.  GK 07/16

2013  Stonecroft Syrah Reserve   17  ()
New Zealand:  13.5%;  $60   [ cork 50mm;  Sy 100%,  hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation,  cuvaison up to 28 days;  18 months in French oak 30% new;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  a wash of carmine,  just above the middle in weight.  This wine is massively oaky,  on bouquet quite drowning varietal expression.  Within those parameters it is clean and fragrant.  Palate shows cassisy berry of reasonable richness,  but nowhere near the concentration needed to handle the amount of oak.  Nett impression is aromatic and vibrant,  but only tasters inclined to rate wine quality by the flavour of the oak,  rather than by the absolute quality of the grapes and winemaking,  could rate this highly.  This level of oaking still achieves high rankings in lesser judgings,  sadly.  See the De La Terre notes.  Will mellow gradually,  cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe 20.  GK 07/16