One of the international wine industry's leading experts has described the 2013 Gimblett Gravels line-up of reds as possessing "all the hallmarks of a classic vintage".
Sydney-based master of wine Andrew Caillard was in Hawke's Bay as the independent selector of the Gimblett Gravels 2013 annual vintage selection - something he has undertaken annually since 2008.
Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association chairman Gordon Russell said the 2013 selection was the most comprehensive line-up so far with a record 46 wines submitted by members of the association.
"The excitement generated by the perfect growing conditions of the 2013 harvest meant this was the most anticipated annual vintage selection yet."
He said the 12 wines eventually chosen were "without doubt" among the greatest red wines yet to be produced in New Zealand and showcased the skills of the winemakers as well as underlining the special nature of the Gimblett Gravels winegrowing region, which covers just 800ha of free-draining soils left by the Ngaruroro River.
Mr Caillard was hugely impressed by what he was presented with, citing the vintage's "aromatic complexity, generous flavours, supple textures and mineral length".
He described the landscape they were produced from as a significant sub-region.
"This year's selection continues the theme of highly individual wines with a distinctive voice of place."
The selection is put together for key wine media representatives and industry influencers around the world for review.
Mr Russell said the annual selection served as a "unique snapshot" of a particular vintage and helped to chart the evolution of the gravels wines on a vintage-by-vintage basis.
The Gimblett Gravels Wine Association was established in 2001 and the region, with its unique soil structure and warm climate, has developed a strong international reputation for producing fine blended Bordeaux varietal red and syrah wines.
There are 12 wines in the line-up.
The 2013 annual selection: Blended reds (merlot or cabernet dominant)
Beach House Cabernet Franc
Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon
Newton Forrest Cornerstone
Cabernet Merlot Malbec
Squawking Magpie SQM Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc
Trinity Hill The Gimblett
Vidal Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
Villa Maria Braided Gravels Organic Merlot
Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Syrah
Mission Estate Jewelstone Syrah
Te Awa Syrah
Vidal Legacy Syrah