Te Mata Estate Coleraine Library Tasting 1982 – 2015


Te Mata Coleraine 1

New Zealand’s greatest and most famous red wine?

This is the opinion of a few notable palates of the New Zealand wine scene, admittedly encouraged by the superb marketing efforts of the folks behind the winery itself, and this opinion is also shared by several overseas leading palates, namely Jamie Goode and Steven Spurrier.

I am quite partial to the wine myself, though my own palate can best be described as naïve. I was introduced to the ‘00 at a tasting of Te Mata wines back in ‘10, and was I entranced by its quality. I didn’t know a NZ wine would age so well!  Actually, until that time, I had never thought of keeping a New Zealand wine any longer than the thirty minutes it took to get it home from the bottlestore. But life is learning, isn’t it?

Now, however, I am the  proud owner of several vintages of Coleraine, all sleeping it off down in the Pool Room under the watchful gaze of kellarmausefanger Mimi until they hit the Witching Hour of ten years of age. The first cab off the rank will be the 2009. My cellar’s pride and joy is a magnum of Coleraine 2013 (ignoring its admitted rival, 750mls of Stonyridge Larose 2005. Plus a bunch of Rieslings. I could go on).

Geoff Kelly, an aficionado of aged wines, previously a wine judge, and one of the resident wine experts at Regional Wines and Spirits, organised this hugely important look at twelve of the best vintages of this great wine since its inception in 1982. There have been 31 vintages to date, with the 1992 and 1993 not being made due to the localised cool weather influenced by the Pinatubo volcanic eruption in Indonesia, and a later vintage (2011?) which was beset by rain. A large number of bottles had been collected over the years by the late founder of Regional Wines, Grant Jones, and Geoff contributed others to fill the holes. He consulted with Peter Cowley, Te Mata’s longtime winemaker, about what he thought the finest vintages were, and thus assembled a selection for tasting over two nights.

I attended the second helping.

Geoff provided an excellent set of introductory notes, which can be read via the link below, with his carefully considered reviews of the wines themselves. Spoiler alert!

http://www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz/index.php?ArticleID=284

Raymond Chan, another local wine reviewer and judge, also ex RW, and an expert whose writings I admire, and also a long-time fan of Coleraine, he attended the first sitting also. And his informative notes are below. Another spoiler alert!

http://www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz/blog/te-mata-coleraine-2015-1982

My good friend GN was in attendance as well, as was a couple of MS members; cracking palates all, plus me, ha! But I’m still at the Bluffing Stage of public winetasting. Again, life is learning, isn’t it?

au vins:

1982 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1983 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1989 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1991 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1995 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1998 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2002 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2005 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2007 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2009 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2013 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2015 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

Interestingly, Te Mata Estate Coleraine Hawkes Bay 1998 was named a ‘Wine Legend’ in the August Issue of UK’s wine magazine Decanter, placing it amongst the greatest wines of all time. The only New Zealand wine to receive the title to date, Decanter’s profile situates Te Mata Estate’s flagship Coleraine beside other ‘Wine Legends’ at more than ten times its price. Hmm. I take this magazine, surface mail, and haven’t seen this issue yet. It will be interesting to sup that one, then.

Time to sniff and slurp. I won’t write up all twelve wines (I leave that weighty task to Geoff and Raymond), but will rather report on my highlights. The wines were served non-blind, in age order youngest to oldest, as 30ml pours.

Te Mata Coleraine 2

The bouquet, as you would expect, showed evolution as the years progressed. Bright primary fruits to start with the later vintages, tending through secondary characters (cedar etc) in the 2000s, then landing on tertiary notes (tobacco ash etc)  as the decades weighed in from the 90s and back. Colour tended bright deep pink carmine in the young wines, through to darker hues, and tending brick for the oldies.

2015 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – $140! OMFG – This was a great start to the tasting. If I can be presumptuous, the producers are making better wine the more goes they have at doing so, and this makes sense. The vines are getting older. And thus the ‘15 is winner in the making. Bright carmine colour. Sweet red and dark fruits on the nose. Sensitive. Breathy. Fresh fruit flavours. Fresh acidity. Great intensity and length. Bracing. Plush and lush, plumpness and  balance. Three ticks.

2013 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – I have this in the Pool Room. It was a Lauded Vintage in the Bay. Bright carmine colour. More volatile than the ’15. A hint of spirit marker. Dark fruit. An impression of restrained power. There was power and crunch in the in the mouth also. Dense and packed with flavour. Some spice. Gorgeous and concentrated, fine, no oak showing. Fabulous. Three ticks.

2009 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Notable for the cassis showing, vanilla, and huge fruit profile. Hot on exit.

2007 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – I noted here floral, lifted, and tension. Baking spice.  Elusive violets. Elegant, long and lean of finish. A special wine.

2005 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. A packed nose. Delightful. Cedar, chalk, dusty , and cassis. Good fruit on palate. A rich feel of the wine in my mouth. I saw neatness and harmony and symmetry. Long. Three ticks for this.

1995 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. Dry and evolved, a light and leafy bouquet. Gorgeous fruit flavours again. Poised. I noted sweetness and freshness, length and persistence. A gorgeous wine. Three ticks for this too.

1991 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. Evolved, with aromas of roses, spice, violets, cassis, cedar and blackcurrant jam. A lot going on here. Delicious, involving and mouthcoating. Someone called this a mature Claret. Drying a little. Harmonious. Three ticks again!

1982 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. Most evolved, but still holding up with freshness and intensity of fruit belieing its age. An amazing 35YO New Zealand wine, and my Wine Of The Night because of this (beating out the ’91, ’05 and ’13).

My takeaway from this tasting had to be the pleasure in seeing how the bouquet evolved through the years. And how the wine colour changed. It was also interesting to see how the later vintages showed improvements that I can only put down to greater vine age and better vineyard/winery practice which has evolved over the years. Te Mata are making better Coleraines now than they did in the past, in my opinion.

This was a masterclass. Something you get vanishingly rarely with NZ wines. And this may well be the last public tasting of this breadth of Coleraines, until the winery itself opens its cellar at the next significant anniversary. Thanks Geoff, and thanks also to the late Grant Jones.

 

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What’s in the glass tonight August 5th – Chardonnay


Selaks Buttery Chardonnay 2016

Selaks Taste Collection Buttery Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2016 – $

13% alc. Gold colour.

L loves a good buttery Chard. This showed bold malo on the nose, generous apricot and peach aromas, oaky influence.

Smooth golden stonefruit flavours to taste. A big generous mouthfeel, and creamy, but not too heavy. A light touch for a heavy white, if you will, seeking balance with acidity on the mid-palate. Medium length. A cheery value winter white, and a welcome return for this expressive and bountiful style of Chardonnay.

L sez “far too drinkable”!

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight August 4th – Merlot


Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2013

Church Road McDonald Series Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$

14.5% alc. Deep carmine colour.

From the celebrated 2013 vintage in the Bay. Tasted over two nights.

First impression: complex and leafy on the nose, odd for a good year, brusqueness and drying tannin on palate, but with potential to age, the shortness on palate perhaps indicating the wine has stalled, with another 2-3 years needed to kick on to a stage when it will begin drinking really well.

Second look after a day open: dark fruits, roses, cedar and vanilla. Soft and aromatic. Unctuous and delicious in the mouth with rich flavours of dark plums, dark red roses, and tobacco to match bouquet. Balanced. Drying tannins offset by fresh acidity, and enveloped by the typical varietal softness of Merlot.

Highly Recommended  90 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 16th – Chardonnay


Te Mata Chardonnay 2016

Te Mata Estate Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2016  – $$

13.5% alc. Pale gold colour.

Light and citrusy nose. Sweet. Hints of apple, white peach

Sweet entry, with medium fruit weight through the middle palate. Finely textured also, with a refreshing line of acid throughout, extending  to a long finish.

This wine can be available for as little as $18 a bottle, so great value for it.

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 4th – Viognier


Elephant Hill Viognier 2016

Elephant Hill Viognier Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$

13.5% alc. Pale gold colour.

Nose of spice, licorice allsorts, and ripe luscious golden stonefruit and melon. Cheery and fine.

Sweet and dense in the mouth, rich fruit. Long luscious honeyed finish. Flavours of pear and navel orange. Peppery and gritty in character and texture.

Recommended 88 points

 

What’s in the glass tonight June 30th – Viognier


Stonecroft Viognier 2016

Stonecroft Gimblett Gravels Viognier Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$

The bottle’s label states that this is the third vintage of this wine, and the production volume comprised three barrels worth from the producer’s Roy’s Hill vineyard on the Gravels.  A boutique release, then.

12.5% alc. Clear pale lemon / straw colour.

Aromatic, with pip fruit aromas up front, then showing melon, peach and honey, and soft and very sweet strawberries.

With such a nose, there were no surprises on palate. A sweet entry, with a creamy texture and ripe fruit through the middle, and a soft acid finish. Long.

Simple and nice.

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 20th – Chardonnay


Sacred Hill Riflemans 2015

Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$$+

Bula!

L and I recently jetted off for a long weekend on Denarau island in Fiji. L was to attend a conference, and I was her ‘plus-1’.

The weather was sunny and warm. The pool was cool and inviting, the hotel staff were friendly and helpful, and we had a great time with her workmates and fellow professionals. Vinaka vaka levu, L!

I raided the airport duty-free store on the way and bought a bottle of Chardonnay to drink on our hotel room balcony. I chose one of NZ’s best single vineyard Chardy’s, which is only made in good years from grapes off old Mendoza clone vines. As I have written about before, it was a bottle of the ’07 that started me on my wine journey.

The nose of the Riflemans showed mealy and fine and aromatic. The wine smelled oaky and oily, quite similar to Viognier in that regard, and had that typical Riflemans intensity, buttery character, and layer of lemon curd.

To taste, the wine was finely-grained and smooth in texture, with rich and dense golden fruit flavours, and some butterscotch and spice. It finished long, with quite “tingle-y’ acid, and showed some bitterness.

This Chardonnay is an somewhat old-fashioned heavy style of wine, in its way, and was not really suited to the tropical Fijian climate at all. A winter white, this one, and best for a cold climate and roast chicken dinners. Still, couldn’t deny the quality.

Highly recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 11th– Merlot Cabernets blend


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Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$

It’s late at night. L is away at a Chiro conference in Melbourne, LG is in bed asleep, the boys are with their father, and I am sifting at the the computer, on the internet, which turns into blogging. I’m blogging about wine, while drinking this wine. Very meta.

Dark plum red. 14% alc.

The wine is showing somewhat thin and oddly structured on the nose on opening. Perhaps it’s a keeper and needs time?

Sure enough, it softened on standing in the glass, filling out and opening up, but still showed thin. There is fruit there as a backbone, with spice and heat, grunty tannin and dark cocoa, but it isn’t as rich or dense as the ’13 or ’14. A disappointment, this bottle.

It does show distinctive terroir, so I have marked it up

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight April 28th – Merlot


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Abbey Cellars Rapture Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$

Dark plum red colour. 14% alc.

A layered and chunky nose, soft ripe sweet black fruit, big on vanilla, and a bit funky. The funkiness got stronger as the wine got air.

Full and soft to drink. Medium tannins. A structural feel in the mouth, a soapy and spicy finish. I could feel the alcohol heat.

The wine then alarmingly wilted in the glass after time, and unpleasantly. I have rarely seen this. It either lacks the extract or fruit weight to sustain itself in contact with air, or it had been poorly stored. A very odd wine to work out – it opened so promising, and then fell over almost completely. A real shame.

Not rated.

What’s in the glass tonight April 16th – Chardonnay


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From the Cellar: Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2011 – $$$

Pale gold colour. 13.5 % alc. Single vineyard wine. I have been fortunate to have drunk a few vintages of this great wine.

This version smells delightfully aromatic. Poised and elegant. Light meal. Lean and restrained. A lovely nose.

An off-dry attack in the mouth. Fresh crunchy acidity throughout. Attractive austere mineral character. Long and incredibly powerful. Lemon finish. Long and long. Sooo good.

A real show wine, this. A cellar-door show-stopper, and a wine that rewards cellaring. One of the best wines I have had this year so far.

Outstanding 97 Points