Blank Canvas Syrah 2015

TASTING NOTE 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.

VINTAGE 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.

VITICULTURE A parcel of special Syrah fruit was sourced from a single vineyard run by a good friend in Hawkes Bay’s famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region. The vineyard is over 15-years old with very low-yielding vines. The free-draining nature of the Gimblett Gravel soils with vineyards being situated on an historic riverbed facilitate this. The vines are VSP trained and cane-pruned on a single fruiting wire with high density planting.

WINEMAKING 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.


Alcohol 13 % pH 3.69
Acidity 6.7 g/L SO2 50 mg/L


5 STARS / 18.5+ Points – ‘Very dark, deep, black-hued purple-red colour, near impenetrable at the heart, very youthful in appearance.  The nose is elegantly proportioned with finely concentrated and deep aromas of ripe blackberry fruit along with black plums, black pepper, subtle notes of Asian spices and liquorice, with herbal and whole bunch stalk detail adding interest.  Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegantly presented with a concentrated core of blackberry fruit interwoven with dark herbs, black pepper, unfolding black plums and spice elements.  The fruit is underlined by fine, grainy tannin structure with balanced, vibrant acidity, and the wine carries with good linearity to a sustained finish.  This is an elegant, but intensely flavoured and concentrated Syrah with black fruits and black pepper, and herb and whole bunch stalk notes on a vibrant, fine-structured palate.  Match with herb-marinated lamb, beef or venison over the next 7-9 years.  Syrah fruit from Dominic Smith’s single vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels indigenous yeast fermented with 7% Gruner Veltliner skins, and 60% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in new and seasoned French oak.  18.5+/20’. Raymond Chan Wine Reviews, 15/11/18

18 Points – 60% whole bunch, fermented in tank with some Grüner skins. French barriques (35% new). Complex nose of smoky bacon, black pepper, lots of rotundone. Light floral note too. Rich but not fat, lots of ripe berry fruit. Like a rich northern rhône, and really smooth. Very pretty and very perfumed but with an underlying sweetness of fruit. Attractively stemmy.” 18/20 Points.Julia Harding MW, 

93 Points / 4.5 Stars -“Dense, deep, high energy syrah, with bright dark fruit, floral, violet, black pepper and spicy oak flavours. The wine has an appealing seamless and silken texture, with subtle sweet fruit restrained by gently drying tannins. Should age well 13/4/2017” Bob Campbell MW, Real Reviews. 

4.5 STARS – ‘Well worth cellaring, the 2015 vintage (4.5*) was made by co-fermenting Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels with Grüner Veltliner skins from Marlborough (‘this results in deeper colour, smoother texture’), and then matured for 10 months in French oak casks (partly new). Dark and purple-flushed, with a fresh, peppery fragrance, it is mouthfilling and vibrantly fruity, with strong, youthful plum and spice flavours, lively acidity, and excellent concentration and structure. Best drinking 2020+.’ Michael Cooper Buyer’s Guide 2019, November 2018.