Today, the only Man O' War you'll find around Waiheke is the winery that's named after the island's heritage. The 'Dreadnought' syrah is termed after a popular sailor's phrase about one of the first battleships released by the Royal Navy, "Fear God, and dread nought."
There are upwards of 27 wineries on the island, and Man O' War is one of the larger wineries, comparatively though, as 'large' on Waiheke Island translates to about 150 acres of vineyards.
This Man O' War 'Dreadnought' syrah is planted down steep inclines with clay soils. The Hauraki Gulf that surrounds Waiheke moderates the temperatures on the island, and so diurinal temperatures are not as extreme. Varieties like syrah have a longer and slower ripening period, and a unique acidity.
2009 was an interesting year on Waiheke Island. 2008 and 2010 were great vintages, but 2009 was marked by a cool blast from Antarctica which disrupted the vines several months before harvesting in February. Weather returned to normal after the blast and the harvest went well, but this vintage carries with it a unique mark of this weather phenomenon.
Man O' War winery vinifies this syrah with wild yeasts. They punch down frequently, macerate for about a month, and then rack the wine into barrels for natural malolactic fermentation that occurs when the winery warms up in the spring. The wine rests in tanks for about 3 months before the bottle it under screw cap.
Man O' War 'Dreadnought' syrah 2009 (Waiheke Island)
The aromas are of rich, dark fruits with a smokiness and pepperiness. As the wine decants over several hours a really lovely meatiness emerges that reminds me of bacon. This wine is medium+ bodied for what syrah can be. The finish is taut and spicy, and there is a nice, brooding acidity that can stand up to heavy proteins.