The 2009 Woodthorpe Vineyard Merlot/Cabernet is a blend of 47% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. It has a little sulphur on the nose at the moment although there obviously seems to be very good fruit concentration, developing a slight seashell quality with aeration. The tannins are presently a little tough on the entry, but well balanced on the palate with good fruit concentration, firm backbone here with an almost Graves-like finish. It shows great potential. John Buck OBE and his son Nicholas continue their hone their craft at one of New Zealand’s most respected wineries and winemaker Peter Cowley has fashioned a clutch of stunning wines in both 2008 and 2009. Both tank samples of their flagship Coleraine and Awatea 2009 are bona fide classics in the making, whilst their entry Woodthorpe range of wines offer a costcutting introduction to the delights of Hawkes Bay varietals without cutting quality.