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 Filed as : Regional SpotlightNew Zealand

Grapes of Gravels - Hawke's Bay, NZ

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  • Publish Date: Mar 24, 2009

When people think of New Zealand wines, the first grapes that come to mind are Sauvignon Blanc (from the Marlborough region, in the northern portion of the South Island), and Pinot Noir (most famously from Central Otago, in the center of the South Island, just north of Queenstown).

Next time you’re in a wine shop or fortunate enough to be touring New Zealand, we strongly suggest you include Hawke’s Bay in your tasting or traveling itinerary. Hawke’s Bay is located on the East Coast of the North Island, set in a landscape of rolling green hills reminiscent of Ireland that funnel down to a flat expanse of land near the sea. Hawke’s Bay is punctuated by an appellation known as Gimblett Gravels, known for its “Gravelly-loams,” or soil profile with serious minerality. For this reason, in Hawke’s Bay Bordeaux style wines reign supreme. Also look for wonderfully refined Chardonnay and elegant Syrah.

Among our favorites in the area are Te Awa and Craggy Range: Te Awa, above all, for their delicious Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and Craggy Range for their Merlot (owned by the American Peabody family, perhaps it’s no surprise that Craggy Range also offers a Napa-esque restaurant situated next to a cliff where, if you time it right, hang gliders will soar above, in true Kiwi fashion.)

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The Fog's Rolling In

Mar 25, 2009
BTW, one of NZ's two Zinfandels (that's right, only TWO as of last year) is made by former Ravenswood winemaker John Kemblefield. It's a hike out to his winery, but a gorgeous setting and great hospitality for sure.

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Mar 25, 2009
We have been to Hawke's Bay 7-8 times over the past 10yrs. We particularly adore it because it reminds us very much of Healdsburg where we live. The thing that's most enjoyable about NZ wineries - and HB in particular - is most have restaurants or cafes from which they serve terrific "farmer platters". Every day we select a different winery to sample which wine to have with lunch, then await their interpretation of a mini-smorgasboard to nourish ourselves. Ingredients vary from local cheeses to steamed green-lipped mussels. Hawke's Bay is about as close to perfect living as you can still find on this planet.

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Mar 23, 2009
I visited Hawke's Bay in 2007. We had a great lunch @ Te Awa (the unoaked Chard was excellent) and one of my other favorites was Hatton Estate "The Doctor". The Trinity Hill Syrah is another wine to be on the lookout for.

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What fortified wine is heated in large ovens called Estufas?