Blank Canvas Syrah 2014


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 – black and red plum, boysenberry, alongside savoury notes, particularly 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. It is incredibly dense and dark, yet hauntingly perfumed and elegant.

VINTAGE The 2014 vintage in Hawkes Bay was outstanding. It produced concentrated flavours, good acidity, and ripe fruit. It was an early vintage for most with a hot, dry summer and a cooperative autumn giving excellent ripening conditions across the region. The earlier than usual harvest meant that the majority of producers could dodge the rain event that occurred later on in April.

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

WINEMAKING In an unprecedented approach I have co-fermented a select parcel of Syrah fruit with 7.5% 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 I had Viognier available for this purpose, I specifically chose Gruner because I suspected it was a better partner. I believe Viognier can have an over-sweet fruit character when it is very ripe which I wanted to avoid and the finished wine benefited from Gruner’s white pepper note. I’ve used a 60% whole bunch component in the fermentation with the aim of emulating the enchanting aromatics present in the best Cote Rôtie wines. The wine was hand-plunged and fermented by cultured and wild yeasts. Maturation of 10 months in new and seasoned French oak was carried out before the wine was blended and bottled unfiltered in March 2015.

FOOD MATCH The depth and intensity of this wine means it can be matched with equally rich, savoury foods such as hearty meat stews, grilled red meat and it is a divine match with peppered steak.


Alcohol 13.0% abv
pH 3.76
Titratable acidity 6.6 g/l
Total SO2 50 mg/l


“Matt believes he has achieved a “world first” by co-fermenting this Syrah with Grüner Veltliner rather than the usual candidate, Viognier. Extra structure was achieved by fermenting the wine with 60% whole-bunch fruit. The result is a dense and firmly structured wine with pepper, juniper, plum and new leather flavours. A very complex Syrah.” 95 Points / 5 Stars. Bob Campbell MW, Real Reviews. stars-5.0

“Impenetrably inky in the glass, with a super-sexy sheen, I just wanted to devour it regardless of how it stacks up in the aroma and taste stakes. Often, to give syrah an aromatic boost, a splash of viognier is added to syrah (a la Cote Rotie). However, this peppery upstart has had 7.5 per cent gruner veltliner skins injected, giving an elegant, fleshy layer to the violet-and-berry-driven palate. Crazy, yes. Tasty, yes.” Yvonne Lorkin, Canvas Magazine

New Zealand assemblage – “Dark, inky black cherry colour. Lots of pepper here and a savoury note a bit like tar. Fabulous texture that is peppery like the flavour but also incredibly compact and smooth. Even with the intensity of elegant fruit, there is still a surprising juicy lightness overall even though the overall character is dark and savoury like the northern Rhône and without the sweetness of the southern hemisphere. Mouth-watering freshness on the finish. Supple and very long. Like the Blank Canvas Pinot, this has the perfect harmony of Old World elegance and structure with the purity of NZ fruit.” 18 Points Julia Harding MW, 

Champion Syrah, Cool-Climate Syrah Tasting, Hamburg, Germany – OriginalVerkorkt. “On the first rank is a truly sensationally good Blank Canvas Syrah 2014 (Ø 18.04) from the Gimblett Gravels at Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Matt Thomson, whose Pinot Noir was among the top five at Cool Climate Pinot Tasting, shows his experience from 25 years of experience gained in different parts of the world. It is the virgin Syrah of the winery, which is newly established and the wine is special in that, instead of the few percent Viognier, which one gives to the wines at the Côte Rôtie, it has taken Grüner Veltliner.” 18.04 PointsOriginalVerkorkt