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INTRODUCTION

Elephant Hill is a story of human enterprise, of dreams and determination, and more than a little serendipity.

Elephant Hill, in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region, is an exceptional estate, grounded in the Old World philosophy of ‘terroir’ - the belief that all great wines should express the unique character of their site.

The estate’s Icons and Elements wines are garnering increasing critical acclaim around the world. The Icons represent the ultimate blends from the very best fruit, drawn from across all three of their distinct sub-regions within Hawke’s Bay. A separate project, the Elements collection, brings the spotlight on specific terroirs and varietal expression.

We are delighted to present the superb 2018 and 2019 vintages - contemporary classics, beautifully wrought with a sense of place.

ELLIOT PERKOFF

SENIOR BUYING ASSISTANT

APRIL 2022

THE 2018 & 2019 VINTAGE

Elephant hill vineyards

2018

The 2017/18 growing season, from budburst in September 2017 through to harvest, (February to April 2018) was the second warmest on record for the period 1990-2018. It was more a case of milder weather consistently, rather than suffering extremes though. The result was much earlier vine growth than has been seen in recent memory, and one of the earliest known starts to vintage at Elephant Hill.

However, twelve days into harvest, there was a prolonged period of wet weather that lasted for two and a half weeks. This affected picking and increased the risk of mould and mildew. Thankfully, the hard work done earlier in the season paid off, with blocks of fruit coming in unscathed.

There followed a dry spell of about a week. This allowed early-ripening reds (Merlot, plus some Syrah) to be picked at the Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle vineyards at excellent ripeness. This was also an important final stage of maturation for the later- ripening Icon Syrah and Cabernet blocks. These blocks require a longer, slower ripening phase. A cooling down of temperatures in early to mid-April suited them perfectly. The result, even with the return of the wet weather, was some of the best blocks of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon ever picked in the estate’s history.

2019

2018/19 saw another very warm growing season, with relatively low rainfall. Budburst commenced in September 2018 and harvest ran through March 2019 to the start of April. The team believe that the 2019 vintage wines have the potential to be the greatest produced so far at Elephant Hill.

A frost-free spring led to a healthy start for the vines’ growing season. A relatively cool and wet flowering period reduced yields, and created open bunch architecture, which lowered the risk of disease later in the season.
From January 2019 through to harvest, the vines suffered an extended period of water stress. Under these conditions the vines focused their energy on ripening fruit, as opposed to vegetative growth. This resulted in small berries and outstanding flavour concentration.

Quality of the fruit, across all grape varieties, was nothing short of excellent. The Chardonnays, in particular, performed exceptionally well this year, from both Te Awanga and Bridge Pa Triangle. They showed lovely concentration and complexity, with the balancing freshness of natural acidity.

THE WINES

grapes

THE ICONS : HIERONYMUS, AIRAVATA, SALOME

As all winemakers will say, quality begins the vineyard, and this is certainly true of Elephant Hill’s approach in the making of the Icons and Elements wines. In each case, the process starts at the beginning of every season, when blocks and rows are chosen specifically with each wine in mind. The vines are pruned severely, reducing the number of potential buds and bunches and thereby slashing production to as little as a single bottle per vine! The leaf canopy is managed meticulously throughout the growing season, working day by day to balance the vagaries of Mother Nature and (with luck!) achieve a healthy, optimally ripe crop. Bunches are picked carefully, one by one, following a precise brief, often resulting in multiple passes through the vines.

High-tech optical sorting kit provides a final safeguard prior to the all-important ferments. Fermentation is carried out by block, and sometimes by clone, with a view to reflecting and respecting the specificity of site and the work carried out in the vineyard. For the red wines, the initial crush is performed by foot, aiming for gentle extraction and fine tannins.

We have a small allocation of these wines for the UK and Asia

SALOMÉ 2019

The Elephant Hill team are really hitting their stride with the fourth vintage of Salomé. Named after a Weiss family ancestor, this exceptional expression of the Chardonnay grape is in the mould of great white Burgundy, whilst continuing the narrative of Hawke’s Bay’s own identity. The grapes come from the Bridge Pa (78%) and Te Awanga (22%) vineyards, and were trained to low yields (35-50hl/ha on average). The fruit was carefully hand-picked, and barrel-fermented by clone: predominantly the clone 548, revered for its intense fruit flavours and fine acidity, alongside some cool-climate clone 15. After blending, the wine was aged in French oak barrels (31% new) for 12 months, with light bâtonnage to enhance the texture and aromatic profile, followed by an additional 6 months in tank. Total production of 224 cases.

A complex nose featuring toasty oak, white flowers, some tropical fruit flecked with citrus zest. The palate has crystalline flavours of pink grapefruit and lemon, with a flash of fresh ginger. Vibrant fruit and nutty notes coat the mouth, with a laser line of juicy acidity and moreish salinity.

We have 50 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5 - 19
Recommended drinking from 2022–2039


£195 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

AIRAVATA 2018

In Hindu tradition, Airavata is the King of Elephants. Elephant Hill’s Airavata is made in honour of its namesake, an animal beloved of the Weiss family. It is also an homage to Côte Rôtie, 100% Syrah and made in even smaller quantities than you might find from a vigneron in that hallowed appellation: the total production was just 265 cases. The 2018 Airavata demonstrates the warmth and structure of the Gimblett Gravels (83% of the blend), offset by the fragrant perfume of Bridge Pa fruit (17%). It was matured for 20 months in French oak barrels (52% new).

An opulent nose of black cherry, sweet dark plums, violets and pepper, with earthy undertones. On the palate, the exquisite texture of this wine – gossamer-fine tannins draped over a core of dark fruit – leaves a lasting impression. Layers of complexity follow with cedar notes, a lifted floral elegance and a mineral freshness on the long seductive finish. Magnificent and multi-faceted.

We have 100 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5+
Recommended drinking from 2022–2032+


£260 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

HIERONYMUS 2018

‘Hieronymus’ seems a suitably dignified title to honour this signature wine. The word derives from Ancient Greek, meaning ‘with a sacred name’, but also pays tribute to a noble ancestor of the Weiss family, the Lord Mayor of Nuremberg in the early 1500s. While classical Bordeaux may be its stylistic inspiration, Hieronymus is created in aspiration, a vision of the potential of Hawke’s Bay as a world-class wine region. The blend brings together Cabernet Sauvignon (58% of the blend), Merlot (22%), Cabernet Franc (19%), and Malbec (1%), from Elephant Hill’s vineyard holdings in the Gimblett Gravels. It spent 22 months in French oak barrels (70% new).

A wine of tremendous power and grace. The heady nose is packed with black cherry, cassis; a hint of cloves and other baking spices, with a subtle floral note. The black fruit flavours are equally concentrated on the palate, held in check by a beautiful burst of freshness, and enveloped by minerally tannins.
Total production 350 cases.

We have 75 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2026–2032+


£260 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
elements wine

ELEMENTS PROJECT – SEA, STONE, EARTH

The 2018 and 2019 vintages yielded fruit of outstanding quality from all three vineyard areas: Bridge Pa, Te Awanga and Gimblett Gravels. However, the team fell in love with parcels from the latter two vineyards, behind the wines Sea and Stone. The distinctive terroir character simply shone through. By contrast, while the Bridge Pa fruit was impeccable, the team felt the grapes lacked the true ‘sense of place’ to stand alone as single wines in the Elements series. Instead, the Earth grapes went on to become important components of the Icon Wines Salomé and Airavata.

Sea is the wine of Te Awanga, on the shores of the Pacific. This area is something of a viticultural gem, encompassing an impressive range of sites and soils. It is fortunate in benefiting from persistent, luminous sunshine, the tempering effects of the ocean, and relatively low rainfall. As a result, the growing seasons is also extended, allowing a prolonged ripening period for the grapes.

The predominating characteristic of the soil here is an extraordinary band of free-draining shingle running across the front of the vineyard, just 50 metres from the coastline. The block was formed by the famous 1931 earthquake which raised the seabed by an extraordinary 4 metres.

Stone is the wine of Gimblett Gravels. An exceptional site, the 17-hectare vineyard is planted on deep greywacke gravels exposed after a cyclone in 1867 altered the direction of the Ngaruroro river. Free-draining, with very little top soil, these are poor soils ideally suited to red varieties.

SEA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019

The grape bunches were picked by hand, from the rows of vines nearest the ocean. 30% was fermented in old oak barrels, with the remainder in stainless steel tanks. To further enhance texture and boost complexity, the fermentations were initiated with wild yeasts, and the resulting wines left on their fine lees for 11 months prior to bottling. Proximity to the ocean is evident, at least subconsciously! There is a tangy undercurrent of salinity to the crystalline fruit. Mouth-watering flavours of yellow grapefruit, gooseberry and lime, with a creamy texture and intense, mineral finish. Powerful and pure.
Total production 500 cases.

We have 100 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 17
Recommended drinking from 2022–2025


£100 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

SEA CHARDONNAY 2019

Biscuity citrus and stone fruit on the nose with a flinty perfume reminiscent of Burgundy. The palate has concentrated flavours of peach, green apple and lemon, beautifully accented by nutty oak. A year spent on the fine lees, French oak (30% new), gives the mid-palate a creamy richness and texture, and the whole ensemble is expertly balanced by Te Awanga’s bracing seaside streak of bright acidity.
Total production 75 cases

We have 50 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5 – 19
Recommended drinking from 2022–2027+


£150 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

STONE SYRAH 2018

A quintessential marriage of two terroirs. This wine brings together the warmth of Gimblett Gravels Syrah (99%) with just a dash of cooling Te Awanga Viognier, co-fermented as they would be in the Northern Rhône. The highly expressive nose is charged with black plums, raspberries and violet petals, with a twist of black pepper. Vivid fruit bounces across the palate, pausing for rest on a bed of savoury tannins. 21 months’ maturation in French oak barrels (55% new) adds a touch of spice too, with hints of cinnamon, clove and vanilla. Incredibly moreish.
Total production 110 cases.

We have 30 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5+
Recommended drinking from 2022–2028+


£165 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

STONE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018

Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the big beneficiaries of the 2018 vintage. The warm temperatures, combined with those Cabernet-friendly gravel soils, delivered grapes so special, the Elephant Hill team decide to release a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, rarely seen. The nose is invigorating, melding mint-chocolate with cassis and earthy undertones. The palate is youthful, balancing amplitude with freshness. Ripe blackberry and blackcurrant, followed by an umami hit of olive tapenade, within the classic Cabernet structure – refined tannins and elegant acidities. Further complexity comes from its 22 months in French oak (55% new), deftly weaving in barrel spices and cedar.
Total production 110 cases.

We have 50 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 18 - 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2022–2030+


£165 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

STONE CABERNET FRANC 2018

Cabernet Franc is normally a component of Elephant Hill’s best blends, but the 2018 fruit was so exceptional, the team felt compelled to bottle a small batch under the Stone label. The grape is known for its role in some of the finest wines of St-Émilion and Pomerol, and in the great reds of the Loire, where it often appears solo, displaying crunchy berry fruit and lively acidity. The Gimblett Gravels terroir conveys an opulence to match Cabernet Franc’s inherent freshness. Plush blackberry and blackcurrant, with a dusting of cocoa powder, draw you in on the nose; a hint of menthol enlivens. An herbaceous edge, some dried herbs working with the smoky oak influence. The wine was aged for 22 months in French oak barrels (45% new).
Total production 110 cases.

We have 50 cases (6 x 75cl) to offer.

Corney & Barrow Score 17 - 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2022–2028+


£165 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

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