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Top 10 New Zealand Syrah

There's never been a better time to drink New Zealand Syrah, according to Decanter expert Bob Campbell MW. Discover his top 10 New Zealand Syrah.

Surprise an expert and choose any one of these 10 New Zealand Syrah and serve it alongsside a glass of good Rhone from the same vintage. He or she won’t find it easy to pick the French wine.

New Zealand’s best Syrahs have similar floral, pepper and dark berry notes to many of the wines from the northern Rhone. And when Kiwi winemakers co-ferment their Syrah with a little Viognier, the aromatics and texture of the resulting wine are remarkably like Cote-Rotie.

New Zealand’s top Syrah regions are Waiheke Island, just 18km from Auckland, and Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the North Island. The Waiheke wines tend to be richer and more vinous than the fruit-focused wines from Hawke’s Bay.

Many winemakers believe that an 800-hectare river bed in Hawke’s Bay called Gimblett Gravels is the country’s sweet Syrah spot. Others disagree, pointing to hillside vineyards that in favourable vintages can produce very special wine indeed. Half of my top ten choices are from Gimblett Gravels, including three of my first four.

There has never been a better time to buy and drink New Zealand Syrah. The 2013 vintage was univerally hailed as Hawke’s Bay’s best ever and Waiheke also experienced near perfect harvest conditions.

These 2013s are just starting to hit UK wine shelves now. But don’t worry if you miss out – 2014 is runoured to be nearly as good, although I have yet to taste enough wines to support the claim.

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