Te Mata Estate 2014 Reds release

Te Mata Coleraine 2014 tasting

Regional Wines Instore Tasting – Bullnose, Awatea, Coleraine 2014s

Regional Wines opened a bottle of the new release premium red wines from Te Mata Estate in Hawkes Bay for all and sundry to try. First in, first served. Couldn’t miss this…I hurriedly took these notes on my way home to the family…

Te Mata Estate Bullnose Syrah 2014 – $$$ – Plumper & fleshier that the ’13; warmer black pepper violets, delicious. A very attractive Syrah

Te Mata Estate Cab Merlot Awatea 2014 – $$$ – Grippy fruity structured, bright acidity, warm Vanilla notes, delicious dark fruits, savoury & long. Great drinking now.

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2014$$$++ – Dense bright acid showing dark roses, mocha, packed ripe fine fruit weight and tight structure, a substantial essential NZ wine; needs 5 years min to show best and integrate.  Selling for around a hundred dollars a bottle now…ouch

Te Mata Showcase Release March 2015

Te Mata showcase 2015

Richard Sheriff of Regional Wines, Wellington, organised a showcase tasting of Te Mata’s latest release wines including the much heralded 2013 Coleraine (according to Yvonne Lorkin, “this wine will change your life!”) to be hosted by Te Mata CEO Nicholas Buck.

I bought tickets for Land I, apparently first in the queue. I was determined not to miss out on this.

Regional’s usual suspects were in attendance. Their infamous raked-back chairs claimed a fresh victim who arrived last, sat down in a rush, and promptly tipped over backwards and sent his wine glasses tumbling when his feet hit the underside of the table! And he hadn’t even started drinking…

With that excitement behind us, we enjoyed a welcome glass of Te Mata Estate Sav Blanc and Nick ran through a summary of the two vintages we were to review – 2013 and 2014.

Vintage 2013 was absolutely tremendous, reportedly a vintage of a lifetime/once-in-30-years vintage etc. Great growing conditions, good even heat, optimally harvest weather, intensity and high yields.

Vintage 2014 was characterised as very early and very good. Nick Buck called the two years the “Celestial twins”…

Te Mata Estate is family-owned, and was established in 1896. The present proprietors the Buck and Morris families purchased the original property in 1974. They have expanded operations within southern Hawkes Bay since and the estate now comprises the original vineyards on the side of Te Mata peak in the Havelock Hills, the Woodthorpe Terraces beside the Tutaekuri river, and vineyards within the Bridge Pa Triangle east of Hastings – an appellation of sorts in it’s own right.

The Tasting

Te Mata Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – 13% – I really like the Savs these guys are shipping out of the Te Mata and Bridge Pa Triangle districts. Bright pale straw. Elegant restrained nose. Fresh and clean and fruity sav, measured acidity, concentrated. Dry, no residual sugar. Some say Sancerre-like. Cracking early drinking! 4

Te Mata Estate Chardonnay 2014 – 13.5% – Pale gold. 50% malo, 9 mths in barrel. Beautiful nose – complex, warm, and mealy with  oak and vanilla – yum. Flavours of white peach, lemon citrus, great fruit weight. A young wine, only just bottled, but layered already. 4

Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir 2014 – 13% – Crimson. L loved this. Odd nose of pipe tobbaco, cigarettes and old smoker (perhaps a residue of carbonic maceration), leavened with red berries and lollies. Palate of light red fruits, lively freshness, nice burst of acidity at the finish. 3+

Te Mata Estate Syrah 2014 – 13% – Purple red. A touch of Viognier in the blend. Strong bouquet of baking spices – quite lovely. Ripe red fruits to taste, cinnamon furry tannins, white pepper. A light young wine off 12 year vines. 3

Te Mata Estate Merlot Cabernets 2013 – 13.5% – Dark magenta. Merlot dominant – notes of coffee and choc aromas. Leggy. Flavours of plums. Complex, rich and warm, softened with a little bottle age. Good fruit concentration, dense & long. Absolutely delicious. 4+

Te Mata Estate Zara Viognier 2014 – 14% – Bright gold. Sweet ripe golden fruit, perfumed, notes of soft pears, pear tree blossom, crystalised ginger.  Dry in the mouth, savoury, oily quality, good weight, saline finish. I was told it works well with artichokes. 4

Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – 14% – Bright white. Off 35yr vines, low cropping, barrel fermented. Truly outstanding. Elegant, dense nose. Great concentration. Floral, I smell white flowers, fresh apples, oak-softened fruit aromas. In the mouth I sense ripeness, purity and great expression. Fresh crisp concentrated fruit on initial attack, and a perfect finish of acidity and length. Long-lived. 5

Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013 – 14% – Bright lemon-gold. 100% malo, Mendoza clone grapes. Clean and linear on the nose. Refined. Not a shouter. Really ripe and rich and concentrated tastes, good weight, fresh citrus characters and nougat. It is currently holding back, and will open up over time. Delicious. 4+

Te Mata Estate Bullnose Syrah 2013 – 13% – Magenta. I thought this had a real Rhone nose. And that’s all I need, really. Soft red berry fruits, floral aromatics, spice and a little white pepper. Light red fruit on palate, with ripeness, soft tannins and suppleness. A very nice wine.  4

Te Mata Estate Awatea Cabernets Merlot 2013 – 13.5% – Deep crimson. Note as bold a nose as the Estate wine, restrained dark plum fruits, choc and coffee, but it does build as I nose the glass over time, and shows a lovely degree of complexity. Gorgeous blackberries and plum flavours – quite a sweet attack. Tobacco and mint. Racy tannins. Long. Drying finish. Stellar. 4+

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2013 – 13.5% – Ark, dark crimson. This isd a huge quality wine. I can’t describe it and do it justice. There is density and purity and red roses and richness and concentration and so much deep fruit and tannin attack…I best leave it to the expert at Regional Wines, “and we can see the immense quality in the ’13 Coleraine. The nose is full of sweet red fruits – plums, red and black currants, cassis, and the sweet basil and cigar smoke. I find wines like this hard to describe, as they are nuanced, but with great depth of flavour. The wine changed throughout the night as well –having been poured 2 hours before tasting, it showed what a little air can do to the wine”. 5

And there you have it. I put in orders for the Elston, Cape Crest, Zara, Gamay and the Coleraine.

What’s in the glass tonight March 24th

Grant elliot 1 (2)

From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Awatea Cab Merlot Hawkes Bay 2005 – bought at auction $$$

I tapped up the cellar for one of my old reds to drink with our Spaghetti Bol dinner, and to soothe the nerves afterwards as I watched the NZ cricket team on TV contest the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup against the mighty South Africans.

It did the trick.

A 10-year old wine. Nudging it’s best-before date. Although Te Mata’s website did say still evolving, drink or hold. The vintage was a high quality one by reports. Best since ’98 or 2000.

Deep dark magenta. 13.5%. Soft bouquet. Leather. Black plums. Smelt well evolved and inviting.

In the mouth I first saw that the tannins were still grippy. A base of dense fruit flavours. A little dry.  A real delight to drink. It got better in the glass as the evening wore on. So expressive and upstanding for a mature NZ red. No faults I could ascertain. Long.  Fantastic.


Te Mata Awatea 2005 - 3

And we beat South Africa with 1 ball remaining when Grant Elliot smashed a six over long on off the bowling of Dale Steyn. We are off to Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground!

Grant elliot 1


Straight to the Pool Room – February 2015

Pool Room Feb 2015

As I have written about before, Wine Enthusiast scored the 2013 vintage of Hawkes Bay reds as a 96, the highest score in the world, so I thought I had better load up the cellar. However my usual suspects have not hit the shelves yet – the producers appear to want to get rid of 2012 stock first.

But to this month’s rescue rides Te Mata Estate. They released their 2013 reds today. I couldn’t get a seat at the showcase tasting this year (grrr…first time in four years I miss out) but the word out on these wines are that they are extremely good, some say the best, from a ‘once in 30-years vintage’. The Coleraine ‘13 is meant to be a revelation (I have ordered two bottles and a magnum to go with my 07, 09s and ‘10s); and this wine below is claimed to be a masterpiece and an ‘Awatea for the ages’. A wine for laying down and avoiding for ten years:

Te Mata Estate Awatea Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$ – a classic Hawkes Bay Cabernet/Merlot blend. Drink 2023-2025

I have a few Awas in the Pool Room – an ’85, ’92, ’07 and ’10. I must get around to knocking the tops off the two oldest.

BTW the photo above was taken while I watched NZ teach Australia how to play cricket at Eden Park in the Cricket World Cup 2015…it was close in the end, but we won!

Te Mata Showcase 2014 Tasting


Wow this annual tasting rolled around fast. I invited along my mate MM who likes a drop.

New venue. No Coleraine (bad season), but the Bullnose Syrah was back.

We were welcomed by Nick Buck, CEO, on arrival, and got warmed up with these welcome wines during the initial mix’n’mingle:

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – typical HB version of this varietal – not as herbaceous as down south. Little winemaking artifice. 3

TMEV Chardonnay 2013 – Ripe grapefruit notes. 3

TMEV Gamay Noir 2013 – Fresh juicy fruit expression I recall most. Serve lightly chilled. 3+

TMEV Syrah 2013 – I liked this. Aromatic. Lightly spiced. Very young still (3 weeks in bottle!). Will cellar 3-5 years. 4

Te Mata Zara Viognier 2013 – very integrated wine, lovely, mouthfilling. Not as hot as previous versions. 4

Then it was on the main room for the formal seated tasting of two flights of four wines…

First flight – ‘07’s:

Cape Crest 2007 (Sauvignon Blanc)– Light straw. This was drinking superbly. Been a fav of mine for a while. One of the two best things they do I think…powerful nose, I see paint-thinner, but in a good way, and brand-new socks, weird…sweet and acidic and fresh to taste. Hint of vanilla from the eight months in French oak barrels, carraway seeds, any lime has mellowed. Additional of 13% semillon cuts through the directness of the sav. 5

Elston 2007 (Chardonnay)– Pale lemon colour. Smooth ripe nose, buttery, dry rolled oats. Peachy in the moth. Perfect level of maturity, lovely balance, ripe lemon, full-flavoured chardy. Burgundian style, full malo. 4+

Awatea 2007 (Cab Merlot Franc Petit Verdot) – dark magenta, browning on the rim. Notes of soap and boot polish, primanry fruit on the nose is fading. In the mouth I tasted preserved fruit, figs, prunes, and blackberries and cherries. Herby also. Structured tannins. It is mature and dry-ish, but holding on well. 4

Bullnose 2007 (Syrah) – dark ruby, browning on the rim. Attractive red berry, pepper and muscovado sugar flavours, with allspice and cinnamon. Not as structured as the Awatea, as you would expect. Lovely easy drinking. Dark caramel toffee at the finish. 4.

Second flight – ‘12’s

It was easy to see the difference in the development between the two sets of wine…

Cape Crest 2012 – Pale green. Only 9% semillon this time around. Fresh gooseberry – typical NZ savvy, hint of pencil shavings. Salty taste, with fresh fruit and refined tomato stalk flavours. Needs to settle down. The structure will let it sleep a while. 4

Elston 2012 – Pale lemon colour. Not so nose-y this version. Toasty background . Complex in mouth, dense weight and balance. Acid rush, cleans out the mouth, good with food I think. Should age 5 years. 4

Awatea 2012 – this is where I got distracted by a ‘fresh box’ smell I was getting off the glasses that were used in the tasting. I couldn’t see much past this when smelling the wine. In the mouth it was grippy, with cherries and choc. Not so enamoured with this one. 3

Bullnose 2012 – MORE FRESH BOX. Soapy, grippy, fruity. Not much to go on. A disappointing way to finish. I’d rather drink the cheaper Estate version, thanks.  3

Of the lot, the Cape Crest shone through, and the Elston. The reds were not so good this time in comparison.

Fast forward to the 2015 Showcase when we’ll get to try the potentially great ’13’s…

PS Congrats to Alistair from Regional Wines for being appointed as a Director of Te Mata. Please keep the prices down, Alistair.


Hammer Time


I attended another fayne wayne auction at Dunbar’s today. I had my eye on picking up an old Te Mata Coleraine.

I ended up sitting next to a mature gent who was intent on buying up all the Coleraine on offer. This wasn’t looking good I thought. Still, I held my nerve and outbid him on one bottle of Te Mata Estate Coleraine 1990. So there. And I didn’t really pay much more than I would have for a new one.

Afterwards, while up at the counter when paying, I started talking to him. Turns out he is one of the directors of Te Mata Estate, and he was at the auction buying the Coleraines to plug gaps in the estate’s wine library. Funny.

I showed him mine and said it was for drinking, soon.

I also won an old Te Mata Awatea Cab Merlot 1992 for $20. The gent told me that was made in the Pinatubo year (when that volcano exploded and cooled global temperatures) and they didn’t make Coleraine– it all went into the Awatea. So he reckoned it might be a bit green. I reckon it will more likely be just old.


What’s in the glass tonight Nov 28th

Te Mata Awatea 2005

Hammer Time: Te Mata Awatea Hawkes Bay Cab / Merlot 2005 – $$$

This is one of the ‘05 Awateas I bought at the recent Dunbar Sloan auction.

I’ve been looking forward to opening this. Awatea ‘05 is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. It is the lesser stablemate of Coleraine. It’s also a wine made for aging; up to 10 years according to the producer.  Let’s see what this 8yo is can do…

I’m taking my time with this one. Dark garnet in the glass, quite clear, no visible brick colouring to the edges. 13.5%. Black fruits aged bouquet, with medicinal hints, earth, wood,  and fruitcake; quite lovely when it opens up to the air. I love the nose.

Light tasting, at first I thought almost frail in the mouth, but over time I see there is more going on than that. Fruit weight has retreated from first release, licorice, some white pepper, and refined mature flavours. The tannins have softened but it is still ‘tacky’. I think it holds together well. Good length. A fine wine. 4

Plug pulled on flagship NZ wine


Back on Nov 10th I blogged about Te Mata Coleraine 2007. This is a complimentary story by Roger Moroney from HAWKES BAY TODAY:

For the first time in 20 years Te Mata Estate winery at Havelock North has pulled the plug on its flagship wine Coleraine due to the tough 2012 growing vintage.

Coleraine had become widely regarded as New Zealand’s finest red wine and was first bottled in 1982 and since then become a sought after collector’s line.

But as Te Mata Estate director Nicholas Buck explained, the 2012 season was “challenging” with only 20 per cent of the normal Coleraine volume being produced.

“That left us with a tough decision – what do we do?”

He said a limited run of Coleraine could have been produced but that would have introduced speculative forces when it came to purchasing as the wines were in such demand.

The smaller number would have sold quickly and many people, who were regular annual purchasers of the variety, would have missed out.

“We had to weigh it all up. Do we disappoint some people or do we be fair to everyone?”

So the decision was made to declassify the entire 2012 Coleraine production into the winery’s second most recognised red – Awatea.

“It hurts us financially to make that decision and we do not take it lightly – but if it only happens every 20 years we can live with that.”

Mr Buck said it was more important to ensure quality and integrity was maintained.

While Coleraine lovers would miss out on a 2012 vintage they would benefit in that due to the non-appearance previous vintages would step up in value.

“And of course our Awatea 2012 customers will be the winners.”

The last time Coleraine failed to make it to the shelves and cellars was as result of lower than average summer temperatures in 1991 brought about by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

However, fans of the fine red will be buoyed by news that the 2013 Coleraine was well under way after one of the best vintages in decades.

“Oh yes – there will be a 2013,” Mr Buck said.

Of the fledgling 2014 vintage now on the vines Mr Buck said the indications at this stage were it would be plentiful and was looking good.

“Size levels are good and so are bunch numbers,” he said.

The warm spring and good moisture had created good bud burst, and indications from across the region’s vineyards was that it looked “very promising” Mr Buck said.

Hammer Time

DS Fine Wine Auction Oct 2013

What am I bid? Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers ran another fayne wayne auction last week, and I won a few lots.

Other bidders were after the Chateau Haut Margaux Rothschild Latour and other French filth, but I only had eyes for Olde Kiwi.

New Zealand wines back in the day typically came off relatively young vines and were made for drinking rather than keeping. There are of course exceptions, but this is as I understand it. I therefore suspected that some of the ‘second-hand’ wines on offer at the auction might well turn out to be really second-hand, so I was not prepared to pay more than $14 each.

I missed out on a few really early examples that were bought for $16 and $18 and more. Shame. I would have liked a Coleraine from the mid-80s but not at the prices they went for. The audience must have been drinking. And what was going on with those old Cornerstone’s selling for $60 a bottle…!

When no-one was looking I scored a 2003 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir for $14; two Palliser Pencarrow 2009 Chards for $10 each (forgetting that I dissed said wine from my cellar only a short time ago – I’m hoping [hoping!] these will be better…) and two Te Mata 2005 Awatea cab merlots for $$$ (I couldn’t resist)…Not as old as I’d hoped, but there is always another auction around the corner.

I’ll put one of the Awateas away in the Pool Room for next year, but everything else will go south over the next month or two and I’ll write them up.