Is Syrah the Next Big Red Thing in NZ?

Hawke’s Bay winemaker Rod McDonald has broken new ground for New Zealand red wine this week, winning Best International Syrah at the world’s biggest wine competition – the International Wine Challenge in London. 

The winning wine is the modestly priced 2015 Rod McDonald Quarter Acre Syrah, which has a recommended retail price tag in the vicinity of $31.75.

The wine also won trophies at the Challenge for Best New Zealand Syrah and Best New Zealand Red as well as Best Hawke’s Bay Syrah, bringing its tally of awards at the show to four in total.

Rod says the win is big not only for him but also for New Zealand, adding that it shines a light on the Hawke’s Bay region (undoubtedly New Zealand’s most diverse, in terms of wine styles it produces).

He says that while quality is a given in his winemaking philosophy, he decided a couple of years ago to start making wines that would be more polarising in style, less polished but with more individuality and personality. This win supports his thinking.

The 2015 Rod McDonald Wines Quarter Acre Syrah also won Platinum Best of Category – Best New Zealand Red Rhone Varieties at the annual UK Decanter Wine Awards last week, cementing its string of accolades.


My tasting note… 2015 Rod McDonald Quarter Acre Syrah $31.75

Hawke’s Bay Syrah has grown from zero (almost) to hero in 20 years. In 1997 there were 30 hectares of Syrah in this country and today there are 443 hectares. This deep ruby Syrah has powerful flavours of black fruit, black pepper and black spice (cloves, vanilla, cinnamon), which woo you into this full bodied, bone dry, new wave Hawke’s Bay wine, which has a lingering finish and drinks beautifully now, thanks to its impeccable balance. It will also age well, if willpower exists.

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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