Unison Vineyard, Gimblett Gravels – A Wine Tasting

Another excellent evening at the 4th Wall Theatre, Wine Tasting Club in New Plymouth – Tonight we tasted eight wonderful wines from Unison Vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, Presented by the delightful, very knowledgeable & entertaining Terry Horn, one of the owners of the vineyard and winery.

Terry Horn, Unison Vineyard, 4th wall theatre, winetasting
Terry presenting one of the wines, was very entertaining and informative.

Unison was established in 1992 & began to grow vines in the harsh dry river stone soils of the Gimblett Gravels. A small family owned property was planted with the vision of a low yield from densely planted vines that mirrored premium European producers. Unison’s first owners started with bare land. The European style of planting many vines in narrow rows ensured a handcrafted vision for the future. Now in its second ownership by Terry and Phillip Horn Unison remains a family owned winery and continues today as a small yield handcrafted property.

Once the former path of the Ngaruroro River, the Gimblett Gravels is now a special place. After a flood in 1867 the River now takes an alternative path but it left behind an area of dry alluvial river stone soil. The water remains the lifeblood of the region, without the water from the Aquafer below to irrigate the vines they would wilt and die.

The river stone terrior retains the heat of the sun and warms to a much higher temperature than other soil types in the Hawke’s Bay making it especially good for Red varieties. All of the Unison Red & Rosé wines are grown, crafted and bottled onsite.

Unison Grows all of its red grapes on the Gimblett Gravels homeblock. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah. White Varieties are sourced from other soils & cooler sites within the Hawkes Bay such as the Bridge Pa Triangle, inland and central Hawkes Bay.

In 2012 they built a new warehouse and sourced a state of the art bottling line from Italy which is perfect for smaller parcels of wine or those high end wines that need extra special treatment.

The Tasting

This is the first time Terry has come to New Plymouth since before the covid pandemic, previously at Decanta tastings and was looking forward to presenting. She brought eight wines from the Unison portfolio for us to try, 2 whites and 6 reds.

As we tasted she told us all about the Unison journey from when they first purchased the business after coming out from the UK, their wine-making philosophy, the reasons why they ended up with their own bottling plant & the concept behind the new bright and inviting Logo and branding. She also spoke about the recent devastating Cyclone that has affected many businesses in the Hawke’s Bay. Luckily they weren’t badly affected but two of their staff lost everything in the disaster along with many others.

We then tasted the wines as follows, Terry presented us with details of each wine, and ask us lots of questions to test our knowledge and get feedback on the Wines. As usual we had amazing platters from Sugar Shack Platters to accompany the wine. Here are the wines in order with some tasting notes from the website. and a few notes from JB.

Sugar Shack Platters - Unison Vineyard, 4th wall theatre, winetasting
Sugar Shack Platters – Yum!

The Wines

The wines tasted in order were:

Unison Bumble Bee Pinot Gris 2022 – Ripe pear and gentle baking spice aromas mingle with rose petals. Lush and velvety in the mouth with flavours of pears, apricots and cinnamon. Clean fresh with a crisp acidity, nicely textured. RRP: $22.00

Unison Maestro Chardonnay 2020 – Amazing aromas of baking spice, fresh ripe apricots and toasted almonds. A rich velvety texture packed with stone-fruit, toasted nuts and a citrus finish.I got a bit of flint in the nose too, a really good Chardy! RRP: $40.00

NOTE – The fruit for their white wines is selected from other vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle areas, where as the fruit for the red wines is all grown and processed on the Unison home vineyard, some of the vines over 30 years old.

Unison Rocky Rose 2021 – An easy drinking style of Rose, made in the traditional method of saigné (bleeding) the juice off the red wine vats at the end of our picking days. Aromas and flavours of strawberries and cream abound. Soft and supple with lingering intense red berry flavours. Lots of berries and a slight herbal note. RRP: $25.00

Unison “And Relax” 2022 – A red wine made to drink chilled – Amazing floral aromas of violets, cherry, raspberry and blueberries. Soft and smooth, comfort wine! Really dark violet / purple wine with grippy tannins served chilled! Liked it! RRP: $22.00

Unison Merlins Reserve Merlot 2016 – Reserve Merlot has always been a mysterious and complex wine with lots of dark plums and spice combining into a magical Merlot. Inky almost black in colour, a bit of leather, big grunty tannins, full bodied. RRP: $40.00

Unison Syrah Rocks 2019 – An easy drinking Syrah with lots of spice, white pepper, plums and blueberry flavours, softer tannins and oak. Made from a more modern clone, 18 months in a mix of French and US oak. Lighter bodied, softer tannins, great length. RRP: $40.00

Unison Excaliber 2014 – A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah with 22 months on oak – A bold blend with dark berries and velvety tannins. A huge wine with tons of weight, grip and depth – long dry finish still young tho! RRP: $40.00

Unsion Symphony Syrah 2106 – Older clone vines, hand picked, basket pressed, 20 months in oak – Mouth filling velvety dark plum fruit flavours, with a touch of cinnamon & spice. White pepper, black berries, silky tannins and a brilliant long warm dry finish. RRP: $60:00

The Wine Line Up - Unison Vineyard, 4th wall theatre, winetasting
The Unison Vineyards Line Up

Eight fantastic wines all made with love and passion, by hand, ‘nearly organic’ / vegetarian – highly recommend you check them out – you’ll not be disappointed – One lucky punter won a bottle of wine and yours truly manged to win vouchers to a show of our choice at 4th Wall.

Thanks again Terry for driving across the North Island in the rain just for us – we all really appreciated it and would welcome you back any time – and thanks to Raewyne, Jane & the team at 4th Wall Theatre in New Plymouth for organising these events Cheers, JB

You can read more about Unison Vineyard and purchase wine here:

To find out more about 4th Wall Theatre Visit:

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