Turning a hobby into a life - tale of Esk Valley The Terraces

Posted by Joelle Thomson on

"I was lucky enough to turn my hobby into my life," said Gordon Russell, at a long awaited vertical tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits last week. One pandemic, a year of planning and three delays finally saw a packed room gather to taste a line up of Esk Valley wines that showed the old and new sides to one of New Zealand's most iconic wineries.
Winemaker Gordon Russell has lived and breathed Esk Valley for 30 years now after taking over the helm from fellow winemaker Grant Edmonds, who both created a niche for high quality Merlot in Hawke’s Bay.
The tasting at Regional Wines in the first week of September was an opportunity to look at several tiers of wines made under the Esk Valley banner. The estate wines have had the luxury of wild yeast, barrel ferments and 100% Gimblett Gravels wines sold at modest prices, offering great value. At the other end, some of New Zealand's great wines have  been made there under The Terraces banner, incorporating adventurous blends of grapes in a small volume, high quality, age worthy red.
And now there is a third range, the Artisanal Esk Valley wines. 
These are small volumes of single vineyard wines ranging from Albarino and Chenin Blanc to Grenache and Tempranillo. 

Tasting notes

2021 Esk Valley Artisanal Albarino RRP $24.99

An absolute show stopper of a dry white wine with succulence, body and intense lemon, hazelnut and oatmeal flavours, all of which add to its full bodied appeal.
Thick skinned grapes in loose bunches with tiny berries are the story of the great white Albarino grape. These factors make it ideally suited to New Zealand’s maritime climate, which is similar to that of its homelands in north west Portugal and Spain. This grape’s intense acidity and later ripening combine to make a full bodied, dry, intensely deliciously succulent, refreshing white.
Winemaker Gordon Russell softens the high acidity by ageing the wine for one year in bottle in the cellar, pre release. He's also learning about optimum picking times, since it's still pretty early days for Albarino in New Zealand. 

Buy here

2020 Esk Valley Seabed Chardonnay RRP $49.99

Full bodied creamy and tightly structured Hawke's Bay Chardonnay. Dry farmed Chardonnay grapes bring a smoky, briny character to this wine, which comes from a 0.8 hectare block of land. Bottled unfined. About 20 to 25% new oak used in maturation process. 

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2020 Esk Valley Artisanal Grenache RRP $25.99

Grenache was first planted by Villa Maria in 1996 on a small patch of ground on the Ngakirikiri Vineyard in Hawke’s Bay and used to make a reserve wine.
This new addition to Esk’s Artisanal range is made from those grapes. Smooth, soft red with more noticeable acidity than southern French Grenache. Very classic Grenache aromas of red fruit and a smooth texture with elegance and without any hint of new oak flavour or any oak influence.

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2019 Esk Valley River Gravel Merlot Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon RRP $69.99

Structure and youth with smooth plummy aromas and flavours leading into a tightly structured, dark fruited wine with firm backbone and classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas. Merlot adds the flesh while Malbec brings depth of colour and spicy flavour support.

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The Terraces tasting

All of The Terraces wines are worthy of further ageing.

We have one bottle of the 2018 Esk Valley The Terraces in store for purchase at Regional – buy here

These are the wines we tasted:

2018 Esk Valley The Terraces RRP $163.99

2016 Esk Valley The Terraces RRP $163.99

2015 Esk Valley The Terraces RRP $163.99

Beautiful. My pick for drinking now and in quality, ripeness, balance and overall weight and length. 

2006 Esk Valley The Terraces RRP $163.99

* All wines were sealed with screw caps

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