WINE REVIEW: Red wines

When a wine has a lot of acidity or grippy tannins, food is called for to mitigate the often harsh or rough finish, but when the wine is in balance, which sometimes comes with maturity, they can be delicious. The best, of course, are harmonious even when young and therefore very drinkable.




Haha Hawkes Bay Merlot 2014


Three and a half stars (out of five)

Good value 

A youthful deep purple with soft fruit, plums and spice, simple, easy and attractive with supple tannins.





Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013


Three and a half stars

Good value 

A hint of herbaceousness gives a liveliness to the generous soft fruit (plums and blackcurrants), held in restraint by firm but supple tannins on the finish. Simple and very drinkable.





Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot Cab Malbec 2013


Three and a half stars

Good value

Hints of mineral and blackcurrants on the nose, then ripe, spicy fruit, soft and generous with underlying oak, a suggestion of dark chocolate and firm, grainy tannins on the finish.





Selaks Founders Limited Edition Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2013


Four stars

Average value

Lots of spicy oak with generous, lush fruit suggesting plums and berryfruit but also lively with firm, crisp, fine-grained tannins. A wine for oak lovers, this is youthful and will develop with bottle age.





Nanny Goat Central Otago Syrah 2013


Three and a half stars

Below average value

Syrah is unusual in Central Otago and this, from Bendigo, is lively and peppery with herbaceous and slightly funky hints, suggestions of spice, red fruits and a tight, fresh acidity. There's lots going on here, but the edgy acidity makes it better with food than by itself.





Villa Maria 50th Anniversary Release Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011


Four and a half stars

Average value 

At four years old this is just coming into its own with brooding black fruits, generous, soft dark berries and spicy plums. It's concentrated and mouthfilling with fine, dusty tannins, but above all it's beautifully balanced and harmonious, and has great ageing potential, though it's delicious now.


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