The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

High-powered Helmsman headlines Special Selection reds 

rsz_helmsman-13As the name suggests, Sacred Hill’s Helmsman is head honcho among the Special Selection reds and its latest release leads this trio of Gimblett Gravels wines to new heights.

 This month’s release of the eagerly anticipated 2013 vintage of Sacred Hill Helmsman, Brokenstone and Deerstalkers is the first time since 2010 the three wines have been released together – a line up of unprecedented quality from the vintage of a lifetime. 

While those who have already tasted the wines are busting out stratospheric scores, Sacred Hill founder and Managing Director David Mason is quietly content that the wines exemplify Sacred Hill’s Special Selection philosophy. “From the beginning we all agreed these wines would only be produced in outstanding vintages, where the growing conditions came as close to perfection as nature allowed.”

“What is in the bottle is not only the result of the vintage but also the Gimblett Gravels vineyard site, the maturity of the vines and the accumulated knowledge and work of the vineyard and winery team. These wines illustrate every aspect of what we strive for in our wine making.” 

This is clearly illustrated by the Special Selection flagship Helmsman 2013, a Cabernet Sauvignon-powered blend with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Previous vintages of this label in Bordeaux versus Gimblett Gravels blind tastings have put Helmsman among the best of the best. The 2013 vintage is rated by those who have tasted as the best yet, already attracting a 100/100 rating from one critic. 

It is joined in the line up by Brokenstone 2013, a rich, powerful and harmonious Merlot dominant blend with small quantities of Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, that has been described as ‘benchmark Pomerol’ in style. 

The seductive Deerstalkers Syrah 2013 makes up the trio, which have long been recognised as among Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand’s leading lights. 

Sacred Hill Senior Winemaker Tony Bish says the 2013 vintage was quite simply a gift. “The wines are profound with a purity and depth of flavour and intensity that reflects the quality of the harvest. The Merlot was dense, rich and aromatic, the Cabernet Sauvignon ripe and intense with wonderful structure, the Syrah floral and spicy and the Malbec was the most impressive we’ve ever seen.”

Bish says the wines have been carefully hand crafted – the fruit hand picked, the grapes gently de-stemmed and hand plunged before undergoing the most gentle winemaking process and barrel aging.

“When the fruit from the vineyard is close to perfection, it’s all about minimal handling to preserve harmony and depth and make sure what is in the bottle is the purest expression of the vintage.”

 Bish says all three wines will have unprecedented staying power, delivering rich rewards to those with a cellar and some serious self control.