Trademark Chardonnay marks Sacred Hill’s 30th vintage

By Wright Communications

The 2015 Orange Label Chardonnay is one of six different Hawke's Bay Chardonnays Sacred Hill produces - including three premium Special Selection Chardonnay Collection wines (Riflemans, Wine Thief and Virgin) as well as HALO Chardonnay and Reserve Chardonnay - something that certainly wouldn't have been envisaged when it was founded three decades ago.

Started in the mid 1980s by current managing director David Mason, his brother Mark and their winemaking friend Tony Bish (now Sacred Hill's senior winemaker) on the Mason family farm in Hawke's Bay picturesque Dartmoor Valley, Sacred Hill is now one of New Zealand's largest privately owned wine producers, making more than 350,000 cases a year and exporting to more than 30 countries.

But this success belies its humble beginnings. The Masons' father Ian was one of the first Hawke's Bay farmers to diversify from traditional sheep and cattle farming and plant grapes. Having decided to have a go at making their own wine, David and Mark came up with the Sacred Hill name, a play on Puketapu (Sacred Hill in Maori), a small village close to the farm.

Their first vintage was 350 cases of 1986 Fume Blanc. It sold out. So did the next vintage of 700 cases and the boys thought they might be on to something. At the time they really did believe that if they could make more wine than they could drink themselves they could sell the rest to fund their passion for fine wine.

"The early days were precious times picnicking by the river with friends and family and Sacred Hill remains true to those roots today. We have always been about making great wines to share and we always will be," Mason says.

He says the 2015 wines, which will  carry a commemorative 30th vintage sticker to mark three decades of Sacred Hill winemaking, are still made in that tradition.

The 2015 vintage saw superb growing conditions in Hawke's Bay for the third year in a row with the renowned Rifleman's Vineyard producing exceptional Chardonnay. For the Orange Label wine, the fruit was harvested gently and transferred to the press without crushing. It was fermented with French oak and underwent regular lees stirring to enhance palate weight and richness.

2015 Sacred Hill Orange Label Hawke's Bay Chardonnay - Attractive straw colour. The aroma has ripe stone fruit, orange rind fragrance and nutty complexity. The palate has a rich core of ripe stone fruit and a soft textured palate line. Rich and tasty.

Food match: Garlic butter prawns fresh from the pan or barbecue.

2015 Sacred Hill Orange Label Hawke's Bay Chardonnay is available from supermarkets throughout New Zealand and has a recommended retail price of $19.99.

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