The gems from 2017’s harvest

As mentioned last week, the 2017 harvest proved to be a testing one. Viticulturists and winemakers dealt with significant rain events which damaged some crops in the lead-up to harvest.

To dismiss the vintage outright, though, really would be foolhardy.

These wines, generally, have an upfront accessibility - which means that they will be a good choice to enjoy young while you let the bigger-boned wines from other recent vintages mature in the cellar.

I think of them as ‘‘cellar defenders’’: wines that you can pull out on a whim instead of bottles that you really, really should keep.

Job done.



2017 Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels The Gimblett
Rating: Excellent

Milk chocolate, gravel, dried herbs, oak spices, a plushness to the rich fruit. There’s powerful tannic grip to this and bright acidity, but the excellent, ripe, fruit intensity balances this well. A cool freshness flows through this with attractive leaf hints, while the log finish is almost European in its sense of dryness.

Already lovely drinkability.



2017 Craggy Range Single Vineyard Te Kahu
Rating: Very good

Interesting nose, tobacco and plum with a hint of minty freshness. Tightly wound on the palate, the tobacco notes are joined by blackcurrant, herbs and oak notes: with a little coaxing, the wine opens up with time.

There are ingredients here that need some time to unfurl: it should provide nice drinkability on a medium- bodied frame.



2017 Sacred Hill Helmsman
Rating: Very good to excellent

Dusty, a wild/funky nuance, herbal elements, the plum and dark fruits swelling nicely leaving a tangy edge. Plush and rich on entry, a little chocolate-mint note adds freshness before the tannins surge, initially sucking my cheeks dry. Time sees a more supple mouth feel emerge with tangy lift to the attractively, long dry close.

Good medium term potential here.



2017 Squawking Magpie SQM Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Merlot
Rating: Very good to excellent

Juiciness to the nose with some stewed fruits and savoury notes; smoke, dried herb and oak growing with time. Fleshy on entry before the tannins come knocking. Builds a mix of sweet fruit, yet with tangy tamarillo and strongly herbal influences, finishing on tobacco and ash.

Time sees this open up and some medium- term cellaring should be rewarded.



2017 Smith & Sheth Cru Omahu Cantera
Rating: Excellent

This comes leaping out of the blocks with a plush and juicy nose of blackcurrant and oak spice, an attractive leafiness evolving to cigar box. Rich and powerful, yet coolness too from a fresh mint/leaf-like note. Open for business, nicely balanced and with a hint of black tea on the long, fruit-led close.

This tightens a little as the tannins build, adding a tangy crunchiness.



2017 Mission Estate Gimblett Gravels Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Rating: Very good

Powerful tomato leaf, floral notes, smoke, perfume and confectionery. There is a sweet lift to the fruit on the palate, with dustiness and stalk/ herbal characters that lend this a wisp of sweet and sour. The tannins have a sappy, grainy feel. A wild herb note flows to the finish.

Youthfully taut, needs a little time to come together.

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