The Bay of Hawkes (aka Hawkes Bay), on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s northern island, is home to some of the finest wines in the Six Kingdoms.

It’s the oldest wine-producing region in New Zealand, and the second largest, and is known for producing some epic Syrah (among other things).

We asked some local experts to tell us three things we must know about New Zealand and Hawkes Bay Syrah:

Emma Jenkins, Master of Wine

What are three things you need to know about New Zealand Syrah?

  1. There’s very little of it! Still only 430ha, and that’s been fairly static for a while.
  2. (Most of it) is very smart indeed – the NZ climate is well suited to producing perfumed, elegant and juicy wines that with the right care and attention can deliver interesting layers and proper personality.
  3. You don’t need to buy the wines in ego-heavy bottles to get a good one.

What are three things you need to know about Hawkes Bay Syrah in particular?

  1. Ripening window is probably better (or at least more reliably) suited to the region than Bordeaux varieties.
  2. The winemakers get cross if you tell them you can smell white pepper as apparently black pepper is much sexier.
  3. The region makes REALLY good examples and there are some very clever people there making it.
John Saker, wine writer and author

What are three things you need to know about New Zealand Syrah?

  1. It’s not Aussie shiraz
  2. As with sauvignon blanc, there’s a natural synergy between this archipelago and the variety
  3. It’s surprising how good it can be across several different regions.

What are three things you need to know about Hawkes Bay Syrah in particular?

  1. At its best, it offers spectacular aromatics
  2. Molten tannins
  3. There should be more planted
Jane Skilton, Master of Wine

What are three things you need to know about New Zealand Syrah?

Fantastic, world class quality, amazingly well-priced and made by people who REALLY believe in the variety. Wines with true heart and soul.

What are three things you need to know about Hawkes Bay Syrah in particular?

See above! Ability to deliver flavour and personality in a medium-bodied wine. Not overblown, not too oaky, not too alcoholic. Wines with grace and fragrance.

Ben Glover, winemaker

What are three things you need to know about New Zealand Syrah?

Small plantings
Marginal areas
Fanatic wine growers
Passionate people
Superb precision in the glass
Exciting

What are three things you need to know about Hawkes Bay in particular?

Gimblett Gravels – local wine growing district.
The Triangle – another local wine growing district.
The best coffee from is from Box Espresso, Clive.

Explore the Bay of Hawkes below and get a little preview into the wines that’ll be at Game of Rhones.

 

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