It was a real pleasure to welcome John Hancock back to Vino Fino to present wines from Trinity Hill. From the first vintage in 1996, Trinity Hill has become the face of the Gimblett Gravels sub-region of Hawkes Bay. Not all the grapes are sourced from the Gravels – they source grapes from around the Bay, including a new vineyard near Porongahau in Southern Hawkes Bay – it is the Gravels that is the source of their premium wines.

Whilst basing their range around the standards of Chardonnay, Bordeaux blends and Syrah, there is also plenty of interest in the other varieties – the Tempranillo, Marsanne/Viognier they even produce very good Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir which unsurprisingly we find difficult to market and sell in Christchurch. They are continually experimenting with other different varieties such as Touriga Nacional and Tannat.

The tasting happened to be on John’s birthday, so thanks to the team from Lion, we were able to celebrate the occasion with some chocolate cake and song.

Trinty Hill Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 $14.99

Various vineyards throughout Hawkes Bay, including the subregions – Raukawa, Haumoana, the Bridge Pa Triangle and the Gimblett Gravels. Previously this has been a ‘lighter’ style of Chardonnay but now much more winemaking influence can be seen. The fermentation included both indigenous yeast and malo-lactic fermentation in older French oak barrels for twelve months followed by three further months on full lees in tank. A soft creamy mouhfeel, reasonably restrained with flavours of peach, citrus, and just a hint of savouriness. Excellent value.

Trinty Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2015 $29.99

One of our favourite Hawkes Bay Chardonnays. The vineyard for this wine was the original Babich “Irongate” and although it has been replanted from those days, the provenance is obvious. Hand picked, whole bunch pressed, barrel fermented on full solids in 30% new oak 500l puncheons. This has plenty of what John describes as ‘windfall grapefruit skin’ flavours. A hint of gunflint/match adds another dimension – not overdone, just enough to add complexity.

Trinty Hill Gimblett Gravels Marsanne / Viognier 2015 $29.99

This label used be all Viognier, but in recent years the addition of Marsanne (now at around 51%) has added another dimension to the wine. The Viognier used the free run juice portion with the skins added to the Syrahs. The Marsanne portion has around 60% fermented on skins for 60- 90 days with the wine aged in a mixture of older oak for around 14 months before blending. This is beautifully textural (John describes it as ‘slippery’) with fragrant spices, ripe apricot, white flowers and a ‘mineral’ streak. The low acidity of the wine is balanced by the phenolic structure and creamy malo-lactic. A unique wine for New Zealand, and one well worth trying. Think of it as a sophisticated mix of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay style. Match it with spicy Asian food.

Trinty Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2015 $29.99

Trinity Hill have not been afraid to experiment with other grape varieties not usually seen in New Zealand. With the Spanish variety (think Rioja), Tempranillo, they have had considerable success. They also produce the Portuguese variety Touriga Nacional of which around 10% is added to this wine. An inky purple colour with dark berry fruits (wild raspberries says John), cocoa, plums and hints of vanilla. There are noticeable tannins with the wine still tasting quite young (another 1-2 years would allow these to meld into the wine).  Tasting and enjoying this and previous vintages makes me wonder why we don’t see more Hawkes Bay Tempranillos.

Trinty Hill Hawkes Bay The Trinity 2014 $16.99

From the Gimblett Gravels and Red Metal districts, this a Merlot predominant blend with smaller proportions of Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Syrah (around eight varieties in total). Made as an easy drinking style with minimal oak influence (a mix of older oak and tank fermented portions). This is a very enjoyable wine with a good combination of graphity tannins, Whittakers Doris plum and almond chocolate, some toastiness. Like the Hawkes Bay Chardonnay plenty of value here.

Trinty Hill Gimblett Gravels The Gimblett 2014 $29.99

Cabernet Franc 49 %, Cabernet Sauvignon 39 %, Merlot 9 %, Malbec 3 %. We have often said that this is the best value Hawkes Bay Bordeaux variety red on the market and this showing confirms this view. With 16 months in 30% new small french oak this has the structure to last many, many years but it is also a treat to enjoy now. From the floral, dark fruited aromas through the silky, complex palate, this wine is completely satisfying.

Trinty Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2016 $16.99

Made in the style of many Southern French wines with plenty of fruit expression rather than oakiness and a portion of whole berries in the fermentation to entice softness and fruitiness. Juicy and supple with blackberry/blueberry fruit flavours and a hint of spice. Like the other wines in the Hawkes Bay range, great value.

Trinty Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014 $29.99

We are seeing the emergence of more sophisticated styles of Hawkes Bay Syrah and the recent successes internationally of these wines I think reinforces how good they are. The wine-making has moved to be more akin to Pinot Noir than Cabernet-like. Gentle extraction and around 30- 35% whole bunch fermentation is just one example resulting in more finesse and greater complexity and concentration. This is a darkly coloured package of dense, sweet black fruits, spice/cloves, plump yet good back palate mouthfeel.

Trinty Hill Homage Syrah 2014 $119.99

From specially selected blocks within Trinity Hill’s Gimblett Gravels vineyards that have been tended with the aim of the grapes ending up in the Homage … only a small portion do and only in exceptional vintages. And this is an exceptional wine. My notes read.. “A mouthful of deliciousness and understated power.” There is no doubting the  accolades this has received – 100/100 Sam Kim, Wine Orbit; 99/100 Bob Campbell MW; 98/100 Cameron Douglas MS; 5 Stars Michael Cooper; 5 Stars & 19.5+/20 Raymond Chan. Simply stunning and what a way to finish the tasting.