By Jamie Drummond

After almost 30 hours of international travel our party arrived at our digs for the next two nights… The Homestead at Cape South… quite a lovely place reasonably close to Craggy Range’s Hawkes Bay winery.

After a quick power nap we headed off to Hastings for the Cabernet Merlot Forum where we sat through an interesting tasting of Hawkes Bay Cab/Merlot blends. In attendance were a number of pretty damn serious folks from the world of wine including Tim Atkin MW, Oz Clarke, Matthew Jukes, Tim White, James Halliday, and Anthony Gismondi amongst many others. As you have most probably deduced, there are a lot of blokes in the room…

Wines tasted:

Whoops, cannot find my list… will report back later… promise.

Ahhhh… here we go…

Hawkes Bay Winegrowers Showcase Tasting

Presented by Peter Cowley, Te Mata Estate Winery, Hawke’s Bay

Flight One
(If you don’t mind I’m going to pass on rating this flight as my palate was not quite yet settled from all of the travel)

2007 C.J. Pask “Declaration” Merlot

2007 Sacred Hill “Brokenstone” Merlot

2007 Mission “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Matariki “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Clearview “Old Olive Block”

2007 Ngatarawa “Alwyn” Merlot/Cabernet

Flight Two

2007 Craggy Range “Sophia”

2007 Te Mata Estate “Coleraine”

2007 Newton Forrest “Cornerstone”

2007 Church Road “Reserve” Cabernet/Merlot

2007 Villa Maria “Reserve” Cabernet/Merlot

2007 Trinity Hill “The Gimblett”

It appeared that many of the UK writers had issues with both the alcohol levels and oak treatments on many of the Hawkes Bay Cab/Merlot blends. These kind of comments appear to have become a little bit of a cliché of the European journos. Personally, being an old-world nut, I can see where they are coming from with regards to the barrel ageing, with most of the wines we tasted seeing 18 months in a fair bit of new oak. Perhaps the wines need to spend a little more time in barrel to give the oak a little more time to integrate… or maybe it comes down to cutting back on the percentage of brand new oak? I must do a little more research…

Despite the fact that our party were beginning to feel the obvious wear and tear of a long journey coupled with an academic tasting of reds, we put on our brave faces and enjoyed a good dinner at Sileni winery. Over dinner I was quite surprised at the size of the bugs so prevalent in the region… cue Jamie having another almost sleepless night…

When we eventually got back to the Homestead some of us were quite shaken by the proliferation of enormous bats swooping around the property. Me, I’m not phased by bats… just bugs…

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.