2014 Church Road McDonald Series Syrah, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Syrah is becoming very popular among New Zealand winegrowers, producers, and also consumers thanks to the country’s relatively cool climate expression of the grape.
In New Zealand, the best Syrah wines come out of the Hawkes Bay region on the North Island. Kiwi Syrah has the advantage of being less powerful and exuberant than their Aussie Shiraz counterparts, yet they are very pungently flavorsome and spicy, often even more than the French examples from Northern Rhone like in Sain-Joseph or Cote Rotie.
CRW is in fact one of the leading Syrah producer in New Zealand. One has to admit they have been successful, getting major awards for two out of the three they produce:
- Best New World Red Wine at the Japan Wine Challenge 2015 with your 2013 Church Road Grand Reserve Syrah
- Champion Wine of Show Trophy and Champion Syrah Trophy with the 2013 McDonald Series Syrah at Air New Zealand Awards.
The McDonald Series is the middle-of-the-range Syrah at Church Road Winery, sitting in between the more entry level Church Road Syrah, and the more iconic Grande Reserve.
It was fermented in French oak cuves, before maturation in oak barrels.
So how good is 2014 Church Road McDonald Series Syrah?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
First things first: the color on this Syrah wine is, hmm, very dense!
It’s very dark black to the core, bright red to the rim with purple hues firmly intensifying the appearance. Straight from the pouring, it looks like we’ve got here some wine with serious concentration.
The nose though, feels elegant and somewhat restrained!
Fresh red berry notes are the main component that first strikes. It feels ripe, like dark cherries, but at the same time with an acidic berry feel: blueberry and gooseberry.
At swirling the wine, the cherry liqueur character comes out more strongly, and also enjoyably if you like to smell ripe-profile wines.
Add a wealth of toasted nuts notes, some coffee and vanilla and you have the aromatic profile of a wine that intrigues and promises some experience.
Did I mention the black pepper notes? I’m not hugely sensitive to them, but they’re here and powerful here, like we’ve come to expect and appreciate in New Zealand Syrah now.
What first strikes at putting the wine in your mouth, is its smoothness combined with a very solid concentration.
It’s less acidic, and riper than I had expected from smelling it. While this may bother some in search for more minerality and a tangy sensation, there’s here opulence and richness from the ripe fruit characters.
It is and feels dry, much more so than any Australian Shiraz, but it’s definitely more upfront fruity and ripe than a Northen Rhone Syrah with the cherry liqueur detected on the nose, and the sweet stpices providing a wealth of opulent richness to the palate.
Finely-textured yet granulous tannins feel velvety and smooth overall.
A wealth of well-integrated oak characters, as well as a definite and strong herbal character, reminding of a gin finish making the experience a complex and positively interesting, unusual one.
A complex, concentrated, spicy, rich and fruity ‘New World’ Syrah in somehow of an elegant and restrained style still.
It seems to combine the spiciness and pepperiness exacerbated in New Zealand Syrah, with some super-fruity tones that are common in Aussie Shiraz.
Add a certain minerality, like volcanic ashes, and you’ll get a feel for how layered and interesting tasting this Church Road Syrah is.
When to drink?
It’s a little too young too fully enjoy now, reflecting in the wine having a little tight a finish and a restrained aromatic profile. Give it 2 years to open up, 5 to 8 if you’ve got them, and the ashy minerality and spiciness built-in this Syrah should start shining through in a fascinating manner.