Blank Canvas Highest Score in Recent Tasting for New Zealand Syrah

Our newly released 2015 Blank Canvas Syrah has been recognised as the top of the vintage in a recent tasting on seminal wine website “Like a rich northern rhône,” Julia Harding MW remarked, it has a “complex nose of smoky bacon, black pepper, lots of rotundone. Light floral note too.” Awarding the 2015 a score of 18 points, the wine is the highest scoring New Zealand Syrah of the vintage and follows on from the success of the debut 2014 Syrah which was also awarded 18 points and came top in an international blind tasting of 2014 cool-climate Syrahs from around the world.

We are very happy to be receiving consistency across vintages, recognising the quality and style we are striving to achieve for our Syrah. Personally we think that both the 2014 and 2015 vintages are of similar quality, with 2014 perhaps having the edge in density but the 2015 is more aromatic. The 2015 is actually closer to the target of what we are trying to make, as nature had an effect on the winemaking in 2014 with the wild yeasts of that year slowing down the ferment and therefore increasing the time on skins.

By using a large proportion of whole clusters in the Syrah ferment, promoting wild yeast fermentation and including the freshly crushed skins of Gruner Veltliner, Matt is challenging winemaking orthodoxy but ultimately striving to create interesting wines that are delicious to drink. Adding Gruner Veltliner skins to the Syrah to co-ferment results in a co-pigmentation effect that deepens the colour but also adds an attractive aromatic profile of white pepper to complement the black pepper and juniper notes of cool-climate Syrah. Blank Canvas is the first in the world to explore this co-fermentation combination.

Matt explains it has been a great success, and it has been fascinating to watch the way the 2014 Syrah has evolved now it has had a few years in bottle, noting an incredible resolution of the tannins that occurred six months ago. New Zealand wines are renown for their distinctive and intense fruit aromas and flavours, sometimes however wines don’t have the structure to underpin the fruit which can reduce age-ability. We are attempting to capture the brilliance of New Zealand fruit but to give the wines greater structure through techniques like judicious use of whole bunch and less use of toasty new oak, which can often impart a sweet, overtly chocolate or coffee character, masking the fruit and tannin. These latter kinds of wines look impressive when first released, often winning trophies and high accolades but over a short period of time fall over, becoming non-distinct red wines because of the lack of fruit or stem tannin.

Finally, we are hugely supportive of the special sub-region that is the Gimblett Gravels® in Hawkes Bay, with Blank Canvas recently becoming members of the Gimblett Gravels Association. We feel the sub-region deserves its premier status, particularly as a world-class appellation for outstanding cool-climate Syrah. Our new partnership with growers and vignerons Dominic and Rachelle Smith of Element Vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels® will be officialised from the 2017 vintage, with this Syrah expecting to be released mid to late next year having been bottled last month.

The full review for the 2015 Blank Canvas Syrah is below:

“60% whole bunch, fermented in tank with some Grüner skins. French barriques (35% new). Complex nose of smoky bacon, black pepper, lots of rotundone. Light floral note too. Rich but not fat, lots of ripe berry fruit. Like a rich northern rhône, and really smooth. Very pretty and very perfumed but with an underlying sweetness of fruit. Attractively stemmy. (JH) 18 Points. Julia Harding MW,

See the original article this review appears in here (Purple Page subscribers only).

See more information about this wine here.

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