Monday, 26 November 2012

Elephant Hill

Elephant Hill Syrahs November 3rd 2012

As part of the FAWC event in Hawke's Bay a Syrah tasting and lunch was held at Elephant Hill. It was also in part a comparative tasting with some 'classic' French Syrah based wines (not reviewed here) a Ogier St Joseph, Maxime Equis Graillot Cornas and Ogier Cote Rotie.

All of the Elephant Hill wines were crafted by Steve Skinner.

My notes below are in order of the presentation.

Elephant Hill Syrah 2009 13% (Gimblett Gravels Fruit)
The 2009 vintage was spectacular for many producers - drier and warmer than 'normal'.

This wine is immediately distinctive on the nose with a varietal signature of red and black berries, wild raspberry and a touch of black cherry; vibrant overall with medium+ oak presence - new barrel suggestions; faded white pepper notes. On the palate a dry wine with a solid fruit core baring raspberry and cherry rich flavors; medium+ acidity and medium to medium+ tannins - finer, but still bearing a youthful grippy edge; medium complexity overall. 
A very youthful wine -still - with around 2-3 years of bottle maturation yet. 89 Points.

Elephant Hill Syrah 2010 13.5%
The 2010 vintage was a little cooler in the Bay area and this, for Syrah, was a gift - not too warm and slightly cooler in the evenings meant a more even and consistent ripening. This in turn drove the quality in this wine much higher.

A balanced and harmonious bouquet with a sense of dry gravels as a layer and complexity giving attribute; White and black pepper notes too (a light hint of VA was ignored as bottle variation); black fruits emerge as the wine begins to unfold after a few minutes in glass (wondering what a couple of hours would bring - no time); On the palate the wine reflects the soil, savory and fruit flavor suggestions - softer more generous fruit texture and flavor, a luscious feel overall; darker berry fruits and more intensity; The finish is long and harmonious and will reward those who can cellar wine and not look at it every week to check its there (3 years at least). Decant if you must drink some before December 2013. 92 Points.

Elephant Hill Syrah 2008
A cooler year with a few challenges in the Bay area. The fruit for this wine was hand picked, destemmed and even berry sorted as well. The result in the finished wine is a testament to attention to detail and decent wine making.
With 4 years bottle age 'under the label' this example is looking very good: Showing a fruit driven core and perhaps less complexity than the '09 and '10 it is no less a wine in terms of attractive bouquet; a little jammy on the nose today - denser and richer black fruits with some leather notes and plenty of oak. On the palate a velvet texture from the tannins and lush body from the fruit concentration (slightly compote - ish). Medium to medium+ tannins and acidity and a longish finish. Overall a sound and balanced wine, well crafted and drinking well - now. 
88 Points.

Elephant Hill Reserve Syrah 2009 13.5%
Dense and powerful fruit core; an enticing bouquet packed with black and red fruits, baked field mushroom, a hint of truffle, meat and black cherry compote; On the palate a dry wine but packed with lovely ripe berry flavors, medium+ tannins - ripe, fine and flavorful; Medium+ to long finish; complex, youthful and a keeper.
I should have written more here, but I hope you'll trust me o this one - it is a wine worth cellaring for 10 years.
94 Points

Elephant Hill Airavata Syrah 2009 13%
Apparently Airavata was/is the white king god of elephants - a Hindu god.

Clean, complex, curious. A spectacular core of fruits that have a 'X' factor or 3rd dimension about the bouquet. Black fruits and wild raspberry, Iron filings, big and rich as well as complex. The palate reflects the nose with flavorful and rich fruit dimensions (the feeling I get when enjoying the flavors and textures of a hot blackberry and apple pie came to mind when tasting this wine); there is a lot of texture to consider with this example - high tannins, medium+ acidity and some whole bunch influences. A long and memorable finish, balanced and well made.
93 Points.

Elephant Hill Rania 2009 7% 
Not a Syrah, but a sweet white wine from Chardonnay 20% and Sauvignon Blanc 80%. Grapes were harvested at 58 degrees Brix and the finished wine has 360 gpl RS and a TA of 12.2.
So now you have been warned  - this is a very very sweet wine.

Hokey pokey, honey, apricot and prune juice and syrupy sugar aromas. On the palate a very very sweet sugar rush balanced only by some pretty high acid. The flavors described above return with a treacle texture and long finish.
What can I say - if you like a deliciously sweet wine with a dessert of of the same then this is the wine for you.
4 Stars

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