Trinity Hill, The Gimblett 2013 Hawke’s Bay

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From £16.88 (plus shipping) or £19, £53 a magnum, NZ$30.99, $28.94 

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There is little doubt that, in stark contrast to the weak 2012, 2013 was an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s answer to the Médoc and northern Rhône rolled into one: Hawke’s Bay (see the introduction to New Zealand – a compilation). I have already recommended one 2013 Bordeaux blend as a wine of the week and here is an even better-value one – at half the price in fact. 

Trinity Hill is run by the irrepressible John Hancock (whose son William is currently studying wine at Plumpton in Sussex) and was set up by Robert and Robyn Wilson, an Anglo-Kiwi couple who own Bleeding Heart and The Don restaurants in London and are in the process of transferring two-thirds of Trinity Hill to American wine entrepreneur Charles Banks. With the first vines planted in 1993, it was one of the pioneers of the so-called Gimblett Gravels subregion of Hawke’s Bay, on the old river bed of the Ngaruroro. Today they grow a wide range of varieties, with Syrah one of their top performers, but from the exceptional 2013 vintage it is The Gimblett, their top Bordeaux blend, that has particularly impressed me.

Like many of the Bordeaux blends grown in the Gimblett Gravels, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon plays only an auxiliary role. The blend is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It was given 16 months in French oak, of which 30% of the barriques were new. So far, so unexceptional for this wine type (read about a comparative tasting of 2005 Gimblett Gravels blends with top bordeaux back in 2009).

But I was particularly struck by how well the tannins had been managed in this youthful blend, and how the wine seemed to build towards the end of the tasting experience – relatively rare except in the finest burgundies – rather than be designed to show its all in the first sniff. The wine is ‘only’ 13.5% (alcohol levels are generally coming down in Gimblett Gravels wines) and this particular one is whistle clean. I think it should age particularly well and would ideally save it until the next decade.

There is something rather strange about its distribution – according to the well-known, New Zealand-based price-comparison site wine-searcher.com anyway. When I was sent the top dozen 2013 Gimblett Gravels wines to taste recently (every year my fellow MW, Melbourne-based Andrew Caillard, is given the task of selecting these; you can read my tasting notes by clicking on the Gimblett Gravels tag above), I noted that the recommended retail price of The Gimblett was NZ$35, rather more modest than some of its peers. No surprise then that wine-searcher.com was able to find the odd listing below that.

There is a selection of New York or Florida retailers offering this wine at keen prices, several of them by the case rather than by the bottle. And then of course there is the UK, for long the prime market for NZ wines – particularly, one would have thought, for those whose owners live in the UK.

But all of the 14 UK-specific listings on wine-searcher.com are for bottle sizes of a magnum or above (including a 12-litre balthazar for £382 from WineBear!). If you want to find a pounds sterling price for a regular bottle, you have to look at the first listing, for WineNZ.com, which offers worldwide delivery of regular bottles of this wine at £16.88 each. This site has a nifty shipping cost calculator that puts it at just under £58 to ship eight bottles (I wonder why eight and not the usual six or 12?) to my front door in London.

When I investigated the mystery of Britain’s missing regular bottles of this wine, I discovered that the Wilsons have opened a small wine shop immediately opposite The Don in the City of London: St Swithins Wine Shippers, 11-12 St Swithin's Lane, EC4, tel 020 7621 9972, and they are selling the 2013 for £19 a bottle. The Wine Society have just offered the 2013 to their members at £20 a bottle. UK importers Liberty are just coming to the end of their stocks of 2012. 

You can find a list of distributors worldwide here.

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