What’s in the glass tonight September 14th – Viognier


From the Cellar: Te Mata Zara Viognier Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Purchased a year ago at an industry tasting. Not kept for very long cos L wanted a Viognier, and I had maybe two bottles in the Pool Room…it is not a wine I collect. Call it fashion, call it my own taste…

Brilliant medium gold colour. 14% alc.

A smoky and spicy and dense bouquet, with ripe enveloping apple scents.

Rich flavours on attack. Ripe, sinewy also, with a silky texture on the mid-palate. Flavours of cooked apples and figs. Oily and mouthcoating. A long hot and spicy finish, with white pepper and cashews. This was good.

89 points

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.

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.