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Rich, powerful and brooding, the Blank Canvas Syrah is a world first for its inclusion of a unique co-fermentation partner, Gruner Veltliner. This marriage of varieties gives this wine a panoply of ripe fruit characters – raspberry and boysenberry fruit characters alongside savoury notes, particularly graphite and bacon. It also gives this wine an incredible spectrum of spice: the black pepper and juniper of Syrah, and the white pepper notes of Gruner Veltliner. It has a velvet-like texture, fine tannins and acidity that only a cool-climate can deliver.
In an unprecedented approach Matt has co-fermented a select parcel of Syrah fruit with 7% Gruner Veltliner skins. This is a similar technique to what is done in Northern Rhone but with Austria’s hallmark white variety instead of France’s Viognier. Although we had Viognier available for this purpose, we specifically chose Gruner because we suspected it was a better partner. Viognier can have an over-sweet fruit character when it is very ripe which we wanted to avoid, and the finished wine benefited from Gruner’s white pepper note. We’ve used a 60% whole bunch component in the fermentation to give uplifted aromatics and longevity. The wine was hand-plunged and fermented by wild yeast. Maturation of 10 months in new and seasoned French oak was carried out before the wine was bottled unfiltered on the 10th March 2016.
The 2015 vintage in Hawkes Bay entailed a good fruit set in the Gimblett Gravels sub-region with a dry summer. The few rain events during early autumn were followed by cool windy periods which dried out the canopies and allowed the red varieties to continue to ripen. We targeted and harvested at 22° Brix on the 9th April 2015 which was perfect for capturing the perfumed and savoury aromatics we were after with this wine.