Geoff Kelly Reviews Ash Ridge Reds

Geoff Kelly Reviews Ash Ridge Reds

Leading NZ wine reviewer Geoff Kelly has reviewed three Ash Ridge Reds, here are his comments,

2007  Ash Ridge Wines Syrah Cardoness Vineyard   17 +  ( )

Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.7%;  $28   [ supercritical cork;  Sy 100% hand-picked;  whole-berry ferment;  12 months in French oak,  none new;  140 cases;  Catalogue:  It displays wonderful aromas of dark berry fruits, an intense palate of blackberry flavours interwoven with fine tannins, and a lingering finish of spice and chocolate; ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is attractively fragrant,  nearly some dianthus floral notes on light spice / pepper and red fruits.  Palate is ripe,  not a big wine,  but clear cassis,  some dark plum,  a suggestion of black pepper,  subtle oak.  The finish is a little lean,  but the total approach fits in with an appellation like St Joseph very well.  This wine displays lovely physiological maturity at a classical French low alcohol – how was that achieved,  I wonder.  And what a pleasure to have a syrah in the classical Northern Rhone style,  no new oak,  allowing the variety to speak so eloquently.  On both scores,  we need more wines like this,  made for beauty,  not to win medals.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 07/09

2007  Ash Ridge Cabernet / Merlot Reserve   16 ½  ( )

Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $32   [ screwcap;  CS 46%,  CF 23,  Me 22,  Ma 9,  hand-picked;  14 months in French oak,  none new;  not filtered;  80 cases;  Catalogue:  a seriously robust wine with wonderful aromas reminiscent of raspberry, cassis, blackcurrant and toasty oak. On the palate the wine displays a full bodied richness with ripe smooth tannins and lifted notes of cassis, chocolate, fruitcake and leather; ]
Ruby,  some velvet.  Bouquet shows a very cedary,  almost pink pine (an alpine native conifer) kind of oak too prominent at this stage as if American,  but below is lovely ripe cassisy and darkly plummy fruit.  In  mouth (leaving  aside the oak) the wine is so cassisy and aromatic it can be confused with syrah,  but the balance of the wine is firm young Pauillac,  darkly plummy,  too oaky but richer than the standard 2006.  This is an intriguing cabernet-dominant blend,  which will be interesting to follow in cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 07/09

2006  Ash Ridge Wines Cabernet / Merlot   16 +  ( )

Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.8%;  $28   [ screwcap;  CS 42,  CF 26,  Me 26,  Ma 6,  hand-picked;  15 months in American oak none new;  Catalogue:  This wine exhibits ripe blackcurrant and dark fruit on the nose with nuances of subtle oak. It has a very approachable palate, with dark red fruits and spice accompanied by nicely integrated sweet vanillin and soft silky tannins; ]
Ruby,  lightish.  The light fragrant bouquet creates interest in the blind line-up – is the wine pinot noir (after the colour) or merlot ?  This is a reasonable subject for confusion in lighter merlots.  Palate shows red currants,  red cherries and stewed red plums,  plus fragrant oak all attractively balanced.  The tannin in the wine tips one towards a claret blend,  medium weight,  though the style of the wine highlights what cabernet franc could be like in New Zealand,  if handled as carefully as this slightly oaky blend.  This is beguiling and different wine in the Hawkes Bay context,  but a little stalky,  needing more ripeness.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 07/09