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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elephant Hill wines - Hawkes Bay New Zealand

Phil Parker runs wine tours around Auckland New Zealand

Elephant Hill is a new Hawkes Bay venture – begun by Reydan and Roger Weiss who first fell in love with the beauty of this region when visiting from Germany in 2001.
They envisaged a state-of-the-art winery, merging the new and old world wine styles to produce exceptional wines. Managing Director, Günter Thies graduated with degrees in Agriculture and Viticulture from the University of Bonn and Stuttgart, and local winemaker Steve Skinner completes the team. Steve has worked many harvests in Hawke’s Bay and abroad including France, California and Canada.

The first planting of over 25 hectares was made in 2003. The first vintage was in 2007 when 115 tonnes of grapes were picked and processed. The winery is ultimately capable of processing 400 tonnes per year. Elephant Hill has been recently audited for SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand) accreditation and we passed with flying colours.

Onsite, they have a very stylish and highly rated 5-star restaurant which features a welcoming fireplace in the reception area. How about for lunch, start with Seared Nelson scallops melon & cucumber salad, white onion vinaigrette ($22), and for mains - Rare juniper crusted venison, carrot purée, Savoy cabbage, lardons ($36).

There is also a super-duper luxury accommodation – Elephant Hill Lodge with rates from $7,800 a night - $11,000 in high season! (Use of the Rolls Royce by prior arrangement). Apart from the main Lodge building and master bedroom, there are two private residences each with king size beds, private bathrooms, mini bar and kitchenette. The Lodge kitchen features European fittings, five wine fridges, and heated floor tiles. Guess I’ll keep buying those Lotto tickets.

They have a wide range of estate wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Syrah (AKA Shiraz!). They also produce a Rosé and Pinot Noir from Central Otago fruit.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Viognier 2009 $NZ29
A lovely example of this new trendy grape variety (pronounced: Vee-on-yay). Originally from the Northern Rhone Valley in France, it was used and still is, to add fruit lift to Syrah in that region. (The only case I know where white and red wine is blended in a classic wine).
This one has floral and slightly spicy flavours, with some stone fruit and preserved ginger in the mix.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 $NZ29
Aromas of black berry fruit, dark chocolate and anise. flavours of ripe, juicy black fruits, with savoury spicy undertones.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Reserve Syrah 2009 $NZ45
Classic Syrah aromas of black pepper, cassis, blackberry and anise combine with some floral notes. Sweet ripe dark fruits fill a palate that perfectly balances richness and acidity

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