Posted by: Andy Kelly
A New Zealand powerhouse that packs a massive punch and has a great name to boot.
I recently popped in to my favourite little wine shop in Liverpool on a lunch break. The owner and I are on first name terms and I’m the sole reason he sells out of his Bordeaux red and Pulenta so it’s safe to say he knows what I like. On this particular day I walked in and I wasn’t given my usual, warm greeting from Dev, the owner. Instead I was met with the words “I’ve got a wine for you”.
“Have you now”?! was my initial reaction before Dev explained that he’d gotten hold of something bold & brash and that would be right up my street. It was Dreadnought by Man O’ War Vineyards. I was instantly taken with it. The label was simplistic, with gold writing on a black background but the bottle itself was impactful, it stood out. The title told me all I needed to know and it was a bold statement in itself. How can anyone who likes bold, full bodied reds not want to try a wine that’s named after early 20th Century battleships?!
It had been sitting on my rack for a couple of months prior to opening it. It almost found itself in the “wines you’ve got but can never find an occasion worthy of opening” category like most of the wines on my rack are. But, seeing as it was Christmas, I thought “sod it” and cracked it open. I was so glad that I did.
Upon pouring, I noted that it was a dull garnet in the glass and I found the edges to be a dull brown colour. Good start.
The nose was difficult to discern at first, but I got hints of plum and spice with maybe even a touch of blueberry as well. The nose stayed consistent throughout as I worked my way down the bottle despite the tastes developing slightly over time.
I didn’t struggle on the palate however. This wine was bloody spicy!!! The spice enveloped my entire mouth after every single sip and it was also that distinctive, black peppered spice that I’ve come to appreciate from Syrah/Shiraz. The spice became more pronounced with each glass though I noted that decanting the wine allowed hints of eucalyptus to break through. It is, without question, full bodied and it has a lovely, weighty mouthfeel. As you’d expect, the spiciness meant that you were left with a nice, long finish.
What a powerhouse this was! It felt like a Northern Rhone Syrah and not my first ever New Zealand red from a tiny island just north east of Auckland. It was a bold move giving a wine a name like this but now I understand why. I just can’t see it being named anything else because it really does pack a punch and it is an outstanding wine.
What it wasn’t was cheap. It was £40 in R&H Fine Wines but at the time of writing it is currently sold out. You can pick the 2013 on Hard to Find Wines but it’ll cost you £65 which is astronomical. Given that these wines can be cellared then I expect the value to increase over time too.
So, if you’ve got money to burn and you fancy trying a Northern Rhone style Syrah from a quality vineyard in New Zealand then look no further. I would absolutely recommend this to anybody who likes Syrah and who has a fat wallet but would I buy it for myself again? Probably, but it would be left on my rack for longer next time!
If you would like to learn more about this wine or any other wines by Man O’ War Vineyards then please give them some love on their website.