This vintage was reviewed by Victoria Moore in the Daily Telegraph in February 2021 thus: "The redcurrant leaf fragrance of the Cabernet Franc really comes through in this attractive take on the Bordeaux blend. Gently oaked, there's a nice depth here without it being too heavy".
The 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - April 2020 Decanter review
And click here for a fine video explanation of the wine from Esk Valley's head winemaker, Gordon Russell.
Esk Valley has come a long way since Sir George Fistonich purchased the historic Glenvale Winery from the Bird Family in 1986. From a time when ports and sherries ruled the market, Esk Valley began forging a reputation for its innovative and quality wines. Under winemaker Gordon Russell, Esk Valley has broken boundaries, introducing new grape varieties and new wine styles to Hawke's Bay.
From the original historic cellars in the north of Hawke's Bay to Esk Valley’s new purpose built winery within the confines of the renowned Gimblett Gravels, Esk Valley continues to produce a collection of wines regarded amongst New Zealand's finest. Utilising a very traditional and hands-off approach - including concrete fermenters for the finest parcels of red grapes - Esk Valley continues to build on its reputation.
The winery sources fruit from Hawke's Bay, including the world-renowned Gimblett Gravels, and Marlborough, as both regions consistently produce grapes of an extremely high quality.
The 2018 growing season was the third hottest on record, which means that "you can taste the summer in the wines", according to winemaker Gordon Russell. A wet autumn and winter, although fortunately with no frosts, followed by a warm spring and a drier than usual summer, meant the vines were in good condition at harvest. The harvest began in early March with white varietals, but harvesting of the reds happened much later in the season. The quality of the wines is evidenced by the array of awards they have won, with the Chardonnays in particular exhibiting a Burgundy-like nature: pure, elegant and ultimately delicious.
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Wines are made from grapes sourced from specific, lower-yielding, intensively-managed blocks of vines. Thety are widely recognised as being amongst the best wines of their kind in New Zealand. Along with The Terraces, this is Esk Valley’s most iconic and revered collection of wines.
This, the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Red, is also the wine which pioneered the use of Malbec in Bordeaux-style blends in New Zealand.
It is only made in the best years/harvests and its blend varies from year to year in order to optimise use of the very best varieties in that year (which explains the changing % mix, names and labels across the vintages).
The fruit is hand picked, de-stemmed, then loaded into Esk Valley’s open-top concrete fermentation vats where it is hand-plunged and left in its skins, before being pressed off into barrels for malolactic fermentation.
Each vineyard parcel is fermented and aged separately before blending. 45% of the 2018 wine went in to new French oak barrels (the other 55% to older barrels) for 16 months, creating a wine that is full bodied and powerful, but elegant and food-friendly too.
"This is a wine that has been made to age well in the bottle, I can quite confidently predict that it will still be drinking beautifully in fifteen years." – Senior Winemaker, Gordon Russell
Cabernet Sauvignon 38%, Merlot 28%, Malbec 19%, Cabernet Franc 15%.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Esk Valley. Eagle-eyed customers will spot that they have used the wrong bottle shot.
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve CS-Merlot-Malbec 2018 - fiche technique
This Winemakers Reserve blend is widely regarded as one of the finest of New Zealand's red wines. The wine is deeply coloured and mouthfilling with firm but supple tannins. Black olive, cherry, red plum, sage and dried herb flavours are complemented by an overlay of cedar from barrel maturation. This a complex and age-worthy wine.