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Mills Reef Syrah Hawkes Bay Mere Road Vineyard 2000
The Preston family established Mills Reef Winery in 1989. Adding commitment and dedication to excellence, MillsReef has established itself as one of New Zealand's premium wine brands with a particular reputation for outstanding Bordeaux varietal reds and Syrah from the renowned Gimblett Gravels District in Hawkes Bay. Located at 143 Moffat Road, Bethlehem, Tauranga, the Art Deco style architecture is a reflection on Hawkes Bay, and specifically Napier - the Art Deco capital of the world.
Mills Reef Winery has frequently been acclaimed as one of the most stylish and attractive wineries in New Zealand. Set on 20 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, the complex boasts full wine-making and bottling facilities, two underground barrel cellars, an aged wine cellar and an enviable reputation as one of New Zealand's leading wine producers.
Although New Zealand is known primarily as a cool climate winemaking country, there are exclusive regions, one of which is Hawkes Bay, that lend themselves to a warmer style of winemaking. The Gimblett Gravels appellation is a sub-region of Hawkes Bay, and is a gem in the NZ winegrowing landscape, with its particular stony soils that enable winemakers to produce superb Bordeaux style wines, hence our focus.
An eclectic region on the east coast of the North Island, Hawkes Bay extends from wide, fertile, coastal plains, inland, to the coast range, whose peaks reach as high as 5,300 feet. While the flatter areas were historically more popular because they are easier to cultivate, their alluvial soils can be too fertile for vines. In the late 20th century, the drive for quality led growers to the hills where soils are free-draining, limestone-rich and more suited to producing high quality wines.
Over the passing of time, the old Ngaruroro River laid down deep, gravelly beds, which were subsequently exposed after a huge flood in the 1860’s. In the 1980s growers identified this stretch, which continues for approximately 800 ha, and named it the Gimblett Gravels. The zone has proven to be ideal for the production of excellent red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Today the area takes well-earned recognition for its Bordeaux blends and other reds. Expressive of intense stewed red and black berry with gentle herbaceous characters, Gimblett Gravels wines are suggestive of their cool climate origin, and on par with other top-notch Bordeaux blends around the globe.
Marked by unmistakable aromatics, a savory palate, and an elegant texture, Syrah is capable of producing fascinatingly complex and long-lived wines with a stunning purple hue. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah’s best examples are found in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. It is also an important component of the GSM blends of the Southern Rhône and beyond, alongside Grenache and Mourvèdre. Both varietal Syrah and GSM blends are common in Australia and California and are gaining popularity in Washington State. In Australia, Syrah is known by the synonym Shiraz, which tends to indicate a bolder, fruit-driven style of wine, and is occasionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure.
In the Glass
At its best, Syrah shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper, smoke, and even bacon fat. Many examples from California aim to recreate this savory style, while others focus more on concentrated fruit flavors. In Australia, under the name Shiraz, it shines as that country’s unofficial signature red grape, producing deep, dark, intense, and often jammy reds.
Cool-climate Syrah, with its peppery spices, is a natural match with flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb dishes, where the spice is more about flavor than heat. With Australian Shiraz, grown in warmer regions, heavy meat dishes with abundant protein and fat are a necessity to match the intensity of the wine.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” this synonym for Syrah has been adopted by winemakers throughout the world. If the label says “Shiraz,” you can typically expect a plush, fruity, and potent wine made in the Australian style. New World "Syrah" will generally more closely resemble the French style.