Yvonne Lorkin wine column for week beginning Sat 20 Jan 2018

Take it to the Bridge…

When I was really little we had cousins, who had grandparents who lived in Bridge Pa, a tiny (and I mean tiny), sleepy, little settlement just a few minutes southwest of Hastings. I remember going to stay with them at the grandparents’ house sometimes. It was a house where every speck of wall space covered in family photos, school photos, sports photos and wedding photos, portraits of their elders and ancestors, many faded beyond recognition. There were ornaments everywhere. You took your shoes off outside. The chairs and couches were covered in colourful, crocheted blankets and they were so slack-springed they swallowed our little bums. The kitchen smelled like cigarettes and rewena bread. Back then, in the early 1980’s, Bridge Pa boasted a dairy and a takeaway bar with a Space Invaders machine outside, a huge Mormon church and a very small primary school. And that was about it. Today the church and the school are still open for business, but the main form of commerce in Bridge Pa these days is grapes. The creep of the vine began in the mid 1980’s when Alwyn Corbyn and Garry Glazebrook planted vines and began Ngatarawa Wines. People soon cottoned on to the quality of the wines which came from the unique, iron-rich, ‘red’ gravels of this ancient riverbed and soon the dusty dry farm paddocks disappeared under a carpet of green. Located adjacent to the Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district, Bridge Pa’s delineation bordered Ngatarawa Road, State Highway 50 and Maraekakaho Road and people started calling it the Ngatarawa Triangle. In 2008 a formal name change was mooted and in 2012 a small group of local wine producers got the project off the ground. Today the Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District (as it’s officially known) extends over more than 2,000 hectares on the western side of the Heretaunga plains and includes the largest concentration of vineyards in Hawke’s Bay. Home to a large number of internationally acclaimed wineries and vineyards (and some of the best syrah and chardonnay I’ve ever come across), this sub-region now includes eleven wineries and seven individual grape growers among its members. It even has its own festival. On Saturday Jan 20th hop-on hop-off buses will ferry ticketholders around Abbey Estate, Alpha Domus, Sileni, Ngatarawa, Ash Ridge, Paritua, Oak Estate and Red Metal to enjoy food, music and a smorgasbord of crazy-good wine styles. It’ll be a very tasty immersion indeed.

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Ash Ridge Doppio MS & Chave Bridge Pa Syrah 2014 $150 (twin pack)
I’ve never featured two wines in the same review before, but it’s the only way to tackle these bottles of salubrious syrah from Bridge Pa, in what I think is a first for New Zealand. Dubbed ‘Doppio’ after the Italian word for ‘double’, Ash Ridge have opted to keep their two clones of syrah separate and make them as individual wines instead of blending them. The two different clones, Chave (believed to have been imported from the Rhone in mysterious fashion) and MS, the ‘Heritage’ or ‘Limmer’ clone from the original material Dr Alan Limmer rescued from the old Te Kauwhata Research station. The aim is to showcase both clones at their best, to show how uniquely flavoured they are, whilst they grow just metres apart on the same soils. So just one barrel of each was made to highlight their diversity. I really enjoyed the MS because it was so floral, delicately structured and elegantly textured, yet the Chave was bolder, meatier and a different beast entirely, in fact I wanted to yell “woof!”
after the first sip. It’s amazing to taste the two side by side, a real education.
www.ashridgewines.co.nz

Stone Paddock Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014 $25 (3.5 stars)
With its attractive aromas of baked lemon cheesecake, creamy almonds and white peach, this is a delicate, focused chardonnay with a fine line of clean acidity and a long quartzy, citrussy finish. Get set for a zesty-fresh, Bridge Pa-grown glass of goodness as soon as you uncap this wine. Terrific with creamy smoked chicken and lemon pasta.
www.paritua.com

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Turn your head to some rollicking reds this week…

Sileni Estates Pacemaker Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc 2014 $40 (4 stars)
Prepare for a bevvy of blossoms, boisterous berry fruit and buckets of dried herbs and spices on the nose and palate of this intense cabernet franc. Bay leaf, liquorice, black tea and sou bois lushness are all jostling for attention in the glass so sit back and enjoy the battle. If this is your pacemaker you’d better strap yourself in for a marathon of flavour.
www.sileni.co.nz

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gimblett Gravels Grenache 2016 $25 (4 stars)
This is literally the only grenache being produced in New Zealand, so best you get amongst it before its all gone! Crafted from 16-year-old vines growing in the company’s Ngakirikiri Vineyard, it’s a heaving monster of a wine, rammed with floral intensity and spiced berry and cherry flavours. The alcohol is 14.5% and its heat adds an extra dimension to the texture and length of flavour. Solid tannins and bold acidity bind the smoky intensity of the wine, a wine. Gorgeous!
www.villamaria.co.nz

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2015 $22.70 (4 stars) 
Fans of softly structured, fleshy, fabulous merlot-dominated reds can kick off their shoes, flick on the telly and pour a glass of this and be confident that it’ll deliver in every respect. Dark red fruits, peppery, cocoa and dried herb characters, deliciously dusty tannins and a long, fresh finish make this a must sip with classic roast beef, Yorkshire puddings and buckets of gravy. www.askerne.co.nz

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