Three Great Hawke’s Bay Red Wines

Here are three red wines that Mum and I enjoyed over the Christmas 2013 holiday season and into the New Year.


The three top wine picks I have chosen have many similar characteristics – this is just a coincidence.

  • they are all reds,

  • they are all from Hawke’s Bay

  • they all come from the specific Gimblett Gravels region (the Gimblett Gravels is a special terroir in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. This fertile area is a former riverbed which is now dry shingle)

  • they are all within the price range of between $20-25 NZ dollars.


I like to try to get single vineyard wines, and these fit the bill, except Moana Park’s Merlot was crafted from their Dartmoor Valley Vineyard and their Gimblett Gravels Vineyard.

Here are the three wines:




A description of the wines (in no particular order) :


Esk Valley, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, 2012.

$23.50 (NZ dollars).

Head winemaker: Gordon Russell.

Wine bottle description: “Fermented tradionally, the wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barriques. Full bodied and displaying characters of blackcurrants, cherries and cedar, this wine can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to 5 years”. 


Squaking Magpie, Gimblett Road, Hawke’s Bay, The Chatterer, Merlot Malbec, 2012.

$24.99 (NZ dollars).

Winemaker: Gavin Yortt.

Wine bottle description: “This wine is deep in colour with a layered, fragrant nose of ripe plum and cassis with lifted vanilla, cedar and tobacco notes. The palate has a rich velvet texture with excellent structure, ripe black fruits and cassis flavours with a long full finish. Great cellaring wine for up to 5 years”.


Moana Park, Hawke’s Bay, Merlot, 2013.

$20.99 (NZ dollars).

Winemaker: Dan Barker.

Wine bottle description: “grown on both the dry river shingle of our Gimblett Road and Dartmoor Valley vineyards showing a deep dark and rich carmine, the wine is lifted, dark and brooding, full bodied with spice, dark fruits and integrated oak”.

Moana Park’s wines are hand-crafted low allergen natural wines, vegetarian society approved, they are produced with sustainable wine growing practices, with zero spray residue. “This wine has been handled as minimally as possible and is therefore unfiltered”. They have only minimal amounts of sulphites added.



I really want to try these four Hawke’s Bay red wines. These are above the $20-25 price range :

Church Road, McDonald Series, Hawke’s Bay, Merlot, 2011. This won an Open Trophy Red Wine Award at the New Zealand Wine Awards in 2013. It has “a sophisticated beauty with a great presence. Cassis, game and cigar box characters”.


Church Road, Hawke’s Bay, Grand Reserve Syrah, 2011. This won the Pure Gold Syrah Award at the New Zealand Wine Awards in 2013


Esk Valley, Winemakers Reserve, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, Syrah, 2010. This won an Exhibition Trophy Red Wine Award at the New Zealand Wine Awards in 2013. The wine features “purity, intensity and harmony; dark fruits, floral and spice with excellent focus”.


Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay, Syrah, 2012. A Champion Syrah Award winner at the New Zealand Wine Awards in 2013. This features “Blue/blackberries and black olives; concentrated and fleshy”.


Red wine health benefits :

People who drink red wine, in moderation, have 60% less chance of catching colds, as the wine contains anti-viral properties from the grape skins. I gained this knowledge from the TV show QI. To extend this information, David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg in their book Grain Brain, say “Resveratrol: the magic behind the health benefits of drinking a glass of red wine a day has a lot to do with this natural compound found in grapes, which not only slows down the ageing process, boosts blood flow to the brain, and promotes heart health, but also curbs fat cells by inhibiting their development”. So far so good. They then go on to say that “you can’t get enough resveratrol in that glass of wine, though. Hence the need to supplement with higher doses to reap the benefits”. They suggest 100mg 2x a day. But, “newer studies clearly demonstrate that lower doses (as small as 4.9 milligrams per day) confer positive effects.” So there is hope.

In another book, The Definitive Guide to Thriving After Cancer, Lise N. Alschuler and Karolyn A. Gazella write, “Red wine contains more than twenty different polyphenols, which are compounds that have potent antioxidant capacity, stimulate repair of damaged cells, reduce blood stickiness, stimulate the transport of cholesterol away from blood vessels to the liver for processing, reduce insulin resistance, and interrupt chronic inflammatory responses….White wine only contains 10 percent of the polyphenols of red wine because the polyphenols are primarily derived from the dark-pigmented compounds in grape skins. …oak tannins from the barrels add to the polyphenols, so red wine aged in oak barrels not only tastes good but is also healthier”.



Grain Brain : the Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers.

By David Perlmutter with Kristin Loberg.

New York : Little, Brown & Co., 2013.


The Definitive Guide to Thriving After Cancer.

By Lise N. Alschuler and Karolyn A. Gazella.

Berkeley : Ten Speed Press, 2013.


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