Homage to a friend (and a wine)

The Givealittle.co.nz fundraiser for Raymond Chan’s cancer treatment has now been closed, seven weeks sooner and $20,285  higher than hoped for – the total was $60,285 from 293 donors.

Chan and his partner Sue Davies are overwhelmed by Givealittle, which has exceeded their wildest dreams. As Davies says, “if good wishes, generosity and love could heal, then Raymond would be cured.”

But of course it takes more than that. And while the treatment remains an unknown. Chan says there has been some improvement in his health since starting Keytruda prior to the fund raising, which is possibly attributable to the drug. The funds will now make it possible for him to have further treatment.

In the meantime, life and work go on. As does wine tasting, which is his and my stock in trade.

For the past two years, we have tasted one of this country’s highest priced Syrahs together and last week we got to try the latest again – the 2014 Trinity Hill Homage.

This is the eighth vintage of Homage, which was named in honour of Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle – a Syrah from the northern Rhone Valley in France. La Chapelle is a wine that inspired Trinity Hill’s founding winemaker, John Hancock in 1981. Five years later, in 1986, Hancock worked a vintage for the late Gerard Jaboulet, who sent him Syrah vines, which were quarantined, propagated and planted in 2002 in Hawke’s Bay. The first vintage of Trinity Hill Homage was released in 1993. It is not made every year, only when the weather cooperates to provide outstanding quality grapes, says Hancock. This 2014 Homage is the best yet, in my view.
This is likely to be a controversial viewpoint but I prefer its softer, smoother style compared to the 2013, which may get higher marks from some quarters. Both 2013 and 2014 set a new benchmark for Hawke’s Bay reds and which is best is personal preference – or remains to be seen.

The rest is history.

As is the bottle that Chan, Davies and I tasted and then shared mid last week. Like our long friendship, it’s a wine of intensity and richness, which is very good now but has the structure to last and continue to evolve, if given half a chance.

It’s a reminder that while many wines can age, sometimes the best time to enjoy them is right now.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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