Hawke's Bay's unique Gimblett Gravels wine-growing district has again drawn glowing comments from Leading Master of Wine Andrew Caillard who had been charged with picking his top 12 reds from the region for the 2016 Annual Vintage Selection packs.
It is the ninth year Sydney-based Caillard has been charged with putting the selection together.
He was especially impressed with the 2016 cabernet sauvignon blends from the region, and accordingly they made up eight of the wines he chose.
Those wines will be packed and sent out to key media and influencers around the world for their reviews, and Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association chairman Gordon Russell said word was already out.
Leading UK wine writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke had already been in touch asking about the latest selection.
"The international recognition is so important and this has been the best initiative for Gimblett Gravels," Russell said.
"It costs a lot to put together but it puts us into the European, Asian and US markets — everyone [wine writers] wants to be on the list to get the selection."
Caillard said the varieties he selected reflected what had been an outstanding 2016 growing season.
"I really liked the vigour, vinosity and personality of the wines," he said, and applauded what he called the evolution of Gimblett Gravel wines.
"As each year progresses there is a feeling of more presence and generosity — a combination of vine age and nurture."
Russell said having the internationally respected palate of Caillard determining the top dozen for the annual selection packs gave it great continuity.
"As always it was a privilege to have Andrew select our annual vintage selection," he said.
"The 2016 not only showcases the skill of our winemakers but also the unique terroir."
He said the global recognition the selection drew was great for the Gimblett Gravels and Hawke's Bay winegrowing landscape overall.
In future tasting and selection terms, Russell said the 2017 vintage would be more challenging for Caillard.
"It was a challenging harvest and was one of the most difficult vintages of our careers," Russell said.
But despite that what was in the barrels was still looking very good.
"It has been tough but it has exceeded our expectations."
The 2018 harvest also had its challenging weather moments but had come through as another potentially top vintage, with the cabernets and syrahs looking to be highlights.
The 2016 selection hosts a good spread of Gimblett Gravel wineries with Craggy Range, Babich and Vidals all featuring two varieties each.
The 2016 Annual Vintage Selection
● Blended reds (Merlot or Cabernet dominant)
Babich Irongate Cabernet Merlot Franc
Babich The Patriarch
Craggy Range Sophia
Mission Estate Jewelstone Antoine
Sacred Hill Special Selection Helmsman
Saint Clair Gimblett Gravels Premium Cabernet Merlot Malbec
Stonecroft Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon
Vidal Legacy Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah
Sacred Hill Special Selection Deerstalkers Syrah
Vidal Legacy Gimblett Gravels Syrah