One minute you’re standing on a cool, inland vineyard looking at Pinot Noir. The next, you’re seeing robust Syrah vines on warmer, stony soils closer to the coast. That’s Hawke’s Bay for you. And this week two top Syrahs that appeared in our  staff tasting at Regional Wines supported the assertion that the Bay is the most diverse wine region in this country.

It stretches from cool coastal areas to chilly inland vineyards, with the majority of the vineyards being on significantly warmer, stonier soils in between.

  • I now lead weekly staff tastings at Regional Wines & Spirits, which is Wellington city’s largest, oldest and best known independent wine retailer. I am an independent wine writer. It’s a win-win. As were these two top Syrahs.

The two Syrahs that were our top staff wine picks this week are:

2014 Sileni The Peak Syrah $32.99

Winner of Platinum at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards in London, this Syrah was made with grapes grown in the Bridge Pa Triangle in Hawke’s Bay where river gravels absorb, retain and reflect the sun’s warmth onto red grape varieties such as Syrah.

Big, bold, juicy and smooth; don’t let the medium ruby colour of this winning wine deceive you into thinking it’s just a big softie. This spicy little number drinks very nicely right now but will age for a further five to six years+ too.

Sileni Estates has 75 hectares of vineyard in the Bridge Pa Triangle, over half of which is planted in the reds – Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.

Fewer than 1% of the 17,200 wines entered won platinum awards at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards.

The other wine is the new Le Sol Syrah from Craggy Range. Here’s the gist of it.

New Le Sol Syrah

2015 Craggy Range Le Sol $135

A cool spring provided plenty of nervous anticipation to the Craggy Range wine team but a warm dry spell in mid to late January saw temperatures rise over 30 degrees Celcius and the result is this lovely wine that’s intense in every way from its deep purple colour to its full body, high but balanced tannins and acidity and its long, smooth finish.

The 2015 Le Sol was aged for 17 months in French oak (30% new oak).

It drinks… well right now and has strong aging potential for 9 to 10 years +.