Vidal Estate 2019 | Tasting Review | August 2019

Vidal Estate has a history stretching back to Anthony Joseph Soler in 1888, and in modern times to 1976 when it was acquired by George Fistonich of Villa Maria. The wines over the last decade plus have been among the best in the country, and the quality and style of the Chardonnays, Syrahs and Bordeaux-variety reds earned Vidal Estate Raymond Chan’s recognition as ‘Winery of the Year’ in 2017 and recently a Top 10 winery rating by Bob Campbell MW in 2019.

Vidal wines, especially the Legacy range have also received much acclaim around the world. Only produced in exceptional vintages and in very small quantities, each vintage release of the Legacy wines are awaited with anticipation.

Tonight we also featured the new “Soler” range of wines from Vidal named after pioneering winemaker Jose (Joseph) Soler. Jose, along with a handful of others, transplanted the skills of the old world to New Zealand and initiated the domestic wine industry as we know it today. He was uncle to Anthony Vidal and arrived in New Zealand in 1866. Under his uncle’s guidance Anthony Vidal developed his understanding of viticulture and winemaking and this led him to appreciate the natural potential of Hawkes Bay and establish Vidal Estate in 1905.

In true Vidal tradition, all the wines tasted are from Hawke’s Bay fruit. The 2018 vintage wines were also from the first harvest handled at the new Villa Maria ‘super winery’ complex on the Te Awa site. If the quality of these wines, from a debut vintage at a new facility, is anything to go by then the future for Vidal is long and very bright indeed.

Hugh is a passionate and talented winemaker with an incredible depth of knowledge and this came through clearly at the tasting in both the wines and his presentation.

Vidal Reserve Pinot Gris 2018

A interesting take on Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris owing to the fact that this also includes 4% Gewürztraminer & 1% Albariño. Hugh has included these varieties to give the wine extra aromatic and textural complexity. Lifted and exotic florals, with honeysuckle and ginger aromas. This finishes dry with lovely weight and lusciousness.

Vidal Reserve Chardonnay 2018

With the accolades given the Legacy Chardonnays it is no surprise to see the quality coming through on this, the Reserve range. Michael Cooper says… “This middle-tier label is a consistently good buy, and the latest release offers irresistible value.” A blend of Hawkes Bay sites including the famous Keltern vineyard.

There is a little bit of flinty smokiness on the nose, but the palate is all about ripe peach/stonefruits with soft acidity carrying the finish. There is a freshness and the full barrel ferment in 15% new oak adds just a hint of vanilla spiced oak character.

Vidal Soler Chardonnay 2018

The second release of Soler, a new tier of wines in the Vidal collection, and it is a wine that impresses. Positioned between the superb value Vidal Reserve Chardonnay ($20) and the much lauded Legacy ($60), Soler has filled that gap with ease yet still scores very highly on the quality value ratio. Grown on the Kokako Vineyard in the Ohiti Valley, it was fermented and lees-aged for 10 months in French oak barriques (26 per cent new) and underwent partial malolactic.

Already this wine has picked up rave reviews with 5 Stars Michael Cooper and Sam Kim and 96/100 Cameron Douglas who writes… “There’s no mistaking the power and youthful impact that the bouquet of this wine offers – peach and nectarine, vanilla, burnt butter and brazil nut, lees spices and blond tobacco. A natural complexity and raw energy. Equally intense on the palate with flavours of yellow stone fruit, grapefruit, apple and layers of wood spice and lees textures. An abundance of oak and acidity with some fine oak tannins. Very lengthy & finishing just dry and complex.”

Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2018

A wine that needs no introduction to lovers of fine New Zealand Chardonnay, Vidal Legacy has become an iconic wine with its distinctive style. Showcasing the fruit and minerality along with the complexing sulphide reduction characteristics has been popular and contemporary, especially in the judging circuit and has seen previous vintages of this wine awarded numerous, if not multiple gold medals and trophies recently both here and overseas and has also seen it included in the 2019 Fine Wines of New Zealand list.

This is a high-tone wine. Powerful aromatics then a real whoosh of flavour and intensity on the palate. Layers of flavour – ripe citrus, stonefruits, spice, nuts, toast… they are all there. A ‘great’ Chardonnay.

Vidal Soler Syrah 2017

The inaugural release of a ‘Soler’ Syrah and at this price point is the epitome of a wine that over delivers for it’s price. Hawkes Bay Syrah is still one of the great undiscovered varieties in the wine world, but we are seeing climbing prices for some it’s top examples (think Te Mata Bullnose, Craggy Range Le Sol, Trinity Hill Homage) however wines like this make it still very accessible. Unfortunately there is still very little of it made and as a consequence it has since sold out.

This wine has received great reviews with 5 Stars Michael Cooper and Sam Kim, 94/100 Bob Campbell MW and an incredible 98/100 from Cameron Douglas MS who writes… “A bouquet filled with aromas of violets, black currants, raspberry, peppery sweet meats, smoky oak and layers of garrigue, dry stone and baking spices. Complex and beguiling. Very expressive on the palate with flavours of oak and wood smoke, dark raspberry and black currant, loads of pepper and sweet black olive. Weighty yet fine, a strong back bone of acidity and firm youthful tannins, a core of fruit and ripeness with a long dry finish. This wine is delicious and should be in your cellar.”

Vidal Legacy Syrah 2018

This is a super concentrated Syrah that fills the palate whilst retaining good freshness and drive. Along with Syrah’s dark fruit flavours there is also notes of olives, nuts, liquorice and dark spices. The tannins melt into the palate. A top, world class Syrah, that would made a great addition to any collectors cellar and is sure to be a show-stopping wine in a few years.

Vidal Reserve Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

An exclusive cellar release made available to us for this tasting. This wine is considered to be among the best value from New Zealand and with the extra year of bottle age it is hard to argue as it offers irresistible drinking. A 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the Gimblett Gravels, aged 18 months in 22% new French oak barrels.

Michael Cooper writes… “A consistently good buy. The 2016 vintage is deep and youthful in colour, it is fragrant, mouthfilling and smooth, with strong plum, berry and spice flavours, gentle tannins, and lots of drink-young appeal.”

Vidal Soler Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

100% Cabernet Sauvignon made in New Zealand is a rare commodity, but with examples like this and increasing warmer vintages forthcoming we are sure to see more. This is the first release ‘Soler’ from the Omahu Gravels vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels and is a wine to keep on your radar as this is destined to be a classic.

5 Stars Michael Cooper and Sam Kim, 96/100 Cameron Douglas MS and 95/100 Bob Campbell MW who writes… “Powerful, elegant, high energy Cabernet Sauvignon with classic cedar/cigar box, fresh herb, black currant, pepper and spicy oak flavours. Youthful wine with a little fruit sweetness that’s encased in taut, ripe tannins. Has great potential.”

Vidal Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot 2013

This 2013 has been held back from release (the 2014 was released before this) to allow it some time to develop in the bottle. The quality of this rivals the classed growths of Bordeaux, and as Hugh proudly told us, this was adjudged the top wine at a tasting in China against 1st and 2nd Growth Bordeaux.

80% Cabernet 20% Merlot aged for 19 months in 50% new French oak. Dense and mouth coating with big chalky tannins. This has drive, intensity and linearity allied to taut elegance, finesse and stylishness. Just about hitting its stride but with plenty of exciting years ahead of it as a flourishes in the bottle. Exceptional!

98/100 Bob Campbell MW
“A top example from a top vintage.”

98/100 Sam Kim
“An extraordinary wine from an exceptional vintage”