With an impressive line of credits to his name, Ant MacKenzie is consultant winemaker at a number of first class wineries including one of New Zealand's very most premium and cellar-focused producers, Dry River. Yet he and his wife Fiona still find time on the side to run three labels of their own: Craft Farm wines reflect their own home block in Havelock North; the Tono label explores their love of Spanish varieties such as Albarino and Tempranillo, which are done with genuine love and knowledge; while Theory and Practice is conceived as a platform for Ant to push the boundaries of traditional vinification. This latter point is somewhat hard to grasp however, as the current Theory and Practice releases seem far from experimental but are, on the contrary, among the most concentrated and stylishly classical expressions to have been seen from Hawkes Bay for the price.
What The Critics Say
18.5+/20 Raymond Chan (2014 vintage)
"Dark, deep ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is tightly bound and elegant in proportion with a core of black-berried and blue fruits along with black mineral and floral lift, unfolding lusciousness and richness in the glass. Medium-bodied, the palate possesses full and rich, concentrated flavours of ripe black and blue berried fruits, along with black plums. The fruit sweetness and richness forms a deep and powerfully dense core that has fine-grained tannin extraction and vibrant and lively acidity to balance the fruit. The mouthfeel has presence, energy and drive, with positive grip, and the structure carries the wine to a concentrated finish of black fruits, spices, minerals and earthy elements. This is a powerfully packed Syrah with richness match by plenty of structure and grip, and acid energy. Match with game meat and semi-hard cheeses over the next 6-8 years. Chave and MS clone fruit from the ‘Lyons and Stewart’ vineyards, adjacent in the Bridge Pa Triangle, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged one year in barrel, with 19.5% new 300 L hogsheads, the remainder barriques, hogsheads and puncheons."
90/100 Bob Campbell MW (2014 vintage)
"Ripe, peppery syrah with plum, berry, violet and a mix of black and white pepper flavours supported by spicy oak. A supple wine in an elegant rather than blockbuster style. Good now but would benefit from a year or two in bottle."
4 Stars Michael Cooper (2014 vintage)
"Delicious now but still youthful, the 2014 vintage (4*) was grown in the Bridge Pa Triangle, hand-harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured for 20 months in French oak barrels (19 per cent new). Full-coloured, it is mouthfilling, fresh and supple, with plenty of vibrant, plummy, spicy flavour, gentle tannins and a Pinot Noir-like texture and charm."
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