2013 Elephant Hill "Airavata" Syrah Hawke's Bay

SKU #1297212 98-99 points Raymond Chan

 ‘Airavata’ is the king-god of Elephants in Hindu mythology. MS and 470 clones from the Gimblett Gravels and MS clone fruit from the Te Awanga sites, co-fermented with 1% Viognier and 30% whole clusters to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 14-21 days on skins and aged 17 months in 60% new French oak. Very dark, near saturated black-hued purple red colour, very youthful in appearance. The nose is elegantly concentrated and penetrating with a complex amalgam of ripe black berried fruits melded with savoury black herbs from whole clusters, black pepper, liquorice, and Asian and Middle Eastern spices. The fruit is refined in presentation with an aromatic and perfumed lift alongside black mineral notes. Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegant in proportion and extremely refined in presentation, with a very concentrated and tight core of ripe black berried fruits, liquorice, spices and minerals. Black pepper and tar elements, with suggestions of herbs and firecracker oak and reductive nuances add to the complexity of flavour. The extraction is very fine-grained, but lends considerable structure, the acidity integrated, providing energy for the wine to carry to a very long, tightly concentrated lingering finish. This is a beautifully tight and elegantly concentrated Syrah with black fruits, spices and complex detail, carried by very refined, but serious structure. Match with slow cooked game meat dished over the next 10-15+ years.

98 points Sam Kim

 Made using grapes from estate vineyards in Gimblett Gravels and Te Awanga, this is an exceptional syrah. Undeniably impressive and completely delicious already, yet the wine is built to last. Aromas of dark plum, blueberry, floral and subtle spice with hints of cedar and black olive complexity on the nose. The palate is powerful and graceful at the same time, and delivers outstanding fruit concentration and mid palate density, beautifully enhanced by velvety texture and abundance of supple tannins. The wine is flowing and multi-layered, and offers a huge potential to develop magnificently. At its best: 2020 to 2033.

K&L Notes

Winery Notes: "The Icons are the pinnacle of Elephant Hill's winemaking philosophy. They are fine and rare wines with great complexity and depth and are made not only because of their exceptional quality but because they are special and unique. The Airavata has only been made twice 2009 and 2013. The 2013 vintage has been hailed as one of Hawke's Bay's truly exceptional vintages giving us the quality of grapes good enough to make one of our Icon wines, the Airavata. Purposely held back and released after a year in bottle and two and half years after vintage these wines are the pinnacle of Elephant Hill's winemaking and viticulture. The wine is made with Syrah from our Gimblett Gravels vineyard and Te Awanga Vineyard with 1% Viognier co-fermented into the blend. Grapes are selected entirely by hand in 5 separate picks across the two sites spanning almost one month. All lots were fermented in open top oak cuves, 30% whole cluster; hand plunged, on the skins for between 14-21 days. The wine was then matured in French oak (60% new) for 17 months. The wine has great depth and complexity showing plum, black cherries, spice and pepper with further savoury olive tapenade and bay leaf characters. The acidity, oak and firm ripe tannins combine to give a Syrah that will improve and age very well for many years."

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Price: $49.99
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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.

New Zealand

- New Zealand is an extremely diverse wine-growing nation. The long history of producing wine started in the 1830s with wineries such as Mission Estate (1850) and Te Mata Estate (1896) still producing wine today. The two islands hold a multitude of different growing climates ranging from warmer areas such as Hawke’s Bay to very cool regions such as Waitaki, and Awatere. Most regions are defined as Maritime with the exception being Central Otago that has a moderate Continental climate with the high elevation creating dramatic diurnal swings in temperature. The plethora of grapes grown in New Zealand reflects this diverse microclimate make up. Everything has a place here, Bordeaux varietals and Syrah in Hawke’s Bay, Chardonnay and Pinot in Nelson, Pinot Noir and Riesling in Central Otago , aromatic whites in Waipara and pretty much everything you can imagine in Marlborough. New Zealand is also one of the “greenest” wine producing nations on earth (94% of wine certified sustainable in 2013) with a strong focus on organic and Biodynamic farming.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5