Unison Vineyard - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
A slice of Europe amongst the Gravels.
The one thing you notice about the Gimblett Gravels are that they look unlike any other place within the Hawke's Bay.
It's almost arid out here, the air is dry and it's hotter than anywhere else.
But boy is it beautiful.
Vines planted as far as the eye can see from all the big names and little names of the Hawke's Bay wine industry.
And here, nestled amongst a sea of vines lies the lovely Unison Vineyard.
I was immediately struck when visiting Unison how much it reminded of me of areas of Spain and Southern Italy. The ground is a dry orange-grey colour, there is tussock-like grass as well as the occasional young olive tree scattered around. All this combined with the Villa setting, really transports you away from the Hawke's Bay and to somewhere else entirely.
After a hearty lunch in the Unwined cafe (I had the hearty Alpaca Burger), I headed indoors to the small Cellar Door.
With just 8 hectares under vine, Unison is definitely an artisan winery.
They also boast some of longer barrel-aging times that I have seen recently with most of their premium reds spending two years (sometimes more!) aging in their French oak barrels.
I was greeted by the wonderful Terry who gave me a map of the Gimblett Gravels and explained the surrounding area in detail.
The tasting itself was excellent with Terry knowing all the in and outs of Unison and the Gimblett Gravels' unique soil and microclimate.
As it's big reds are not released for a number of years they were mostly 2010-2009 vintages and were heavy and powerful. The Cab Sauv focused blends in particular.
However my pick from the day would be the Syrah 2010. This Syrah felt like an old friend due to it's similarity to the Villa Maria Reserve Syrah 2010 which I am very familiar with. This was soon explained as the two actually share a fence with Unison and Villa Maria having a neighbourly relationship.
Unison is definitely a vineyard that I will keep an eye out for and I will surely return for lunch again other day.
The cellar door is small but the staff kind and very knowledgeable with delicious full-bodied reds and whites full of zest.