In 2015, Northland winemaker Ben Byrne decided his parcels of fruit from three Syrah locations each had too much personality to lose if they were blended. He bottled them individually and magic happened …
Byrne Vineyard Puketotara Syrah 2015 $24
Here you have 100 per cent whole-bunch-fermented, “Chave” clone Syrah from the volcanic loam soils of the Fat Pig vineyard on Puketotara Rd in Waipapa. Gently foot-stomped and aged in old French oak, this Syrah weighs in at just 11.5 per cent alcohol. Scented with green peppercorn and violets, it has a plush, black-fruited core, a smooth, earthy finish and tannins that are soft and powdery.
Sip with: venison burgers
Byrne Vineyard Waingaro Syrah 2015 $32
Ben’s original Syrah, sourced from five clones grown on his tiny, north-facing block overlooking Lake Waingaro, Kerikeri’s main water supply, is 30 per cent whole-bunch-fermented with a splash of viognier and some extra viognier skins to boost the aromatic lift. Glossy, gorgeous and perfumed with pepper, violets, bay, cocoa and a hint of apricot kernel, it’s smooth and saucy.
Sip with: peppered steak salad
Byrne Vineyard Te Puna Syrah 2015 $42
Sourced from a tiny patch overlooking Te Puna inlet, this smooth, inky-maroon, unfiltered Syrah bursts with fresh berries, subtle cocoa and plucky pepper characters. Ten per cent whole-bunch-fermented, 50 per cent of which was aged in new French oak, this is fleshy, earthy fabulousness in a bottle.
Sip with: classic beef tartare