Vidal Syrah is from Gimblett Gravels in the Hawke's Bay area of North Island, a region of 800ha of gravely soils laid down by the old Ngaruroro River, which were exposed after a huge flood in the 1860s.
The Vidal winery traces its history back to 1905 - even though most of the modern New Zealand wine industry did not exist before the 1970s; and, whilst it may be traditional to think of Savignon Blanc as New Zealand's signature grape, I find it more useful to think in terms of a signature NZ style - technically well-made, cool climate wines from international varieties with pure fruit expression.
Although now four years old, this Syrah is still a dark purple in the glass, with just a touch of paleness around the rim. Sealed under screwcap, I open it up about an hour before dinner and pour it into the decanter.
The nose shows typical varietal fruit aromas of black cherries and elderberries and a touch of peppery spice. The palate feels inky and mouthfilling - more like a Rhône Syrah than an Aussie Shiraz - with vibrant acidity and pure dark-berry fruit expression.
On the finish, there are supple but grippy tannins and a rasp of acidity that demands food to match.
Poured back into the bottle and re-sampled, it continues to improve over several days with aromas of blackberries, liquorice and pencil shavings developing - this wine clearly has significant ageing potential.
It has a number of awards, mainly bronzes and silvers, which feels about right - impressive and technically very well-made, but not exactly cheap at £14, even if it is clearly a noticeable step-up from NZ wines around a tenner.
Match with a roast dinner of duck or leg of lamb.
£13.99 from Waitrose, The Halifax Wine Co, Askew Wines, Steep Hill Wines, http://www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk/, Matthew Clark, http://www.wine-studio.co.uk/
Vidal - http://www.vidal.co.nz/