Tasting Reviews

Te Mata Estate Showcase 2017 – The Fabulous Fifteens

One of the highlights of the New Zealand wine calendar, the Te Mata Estate Showcase gives hospitality and wine trade professionals, as well as keen wine enthusiasts to get an impression of the current vintage releases of Hawke’s Bay, and in a way, an indicator of the health of the New Zealand wine industry as a whole. Te Mata Estate is one of the country’s most well-established producers, making its iconic ‘Coleraine’ Bordeaux-varietal blend since 1982, this wine regarded as one of the New Zealand’s most distinguished wines, and the Buck family into its second generation of running the business. Sure, the Te Mata team exude positivity and confidence, but they are straight shooters, telling their audience of how they are operating and achieving their goals, in whether excellent or difficult circumstances. www.temata.co.nz

Nicholas Buck - C.E.O., Te Mata Estate

The 2017 Showcase Tasting
This year’s Showcase tasting in Wellington was held at Prefab Hall. In attendance were C.E.O. Nicholas Buck, Toby Buck in sales and marketing, and Peter Cowley, technical director, with several of their team as well as members of EuroVintage, their national distributors. The wines were presented according to vintage, with a relaxed pre-tasting of three 2016 vintage wines, followed by a sit-down structured tasting of wines from 2015, finishing with the Coleraine 2015. Following are my notes on the wines in the order they were served.

The 2016 Vintage Wines
Te Mata call 2016 "the turnaround vintage”. The growing season began very cool and it seemed as though it was a matter of chasing ripeness. Excellent weather in the latter part of the season saw all the varieties ripen with a rush, and harvest was compressed.

Te Mata ‘Estate Vineyards’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Bright straw-yellow colour. The nose is very fresh and tightly bound with piquant white stonefruits along with subtle nutty oak notes and suggestions of fresh herbs. The aromatics grow in intensity and concentration with aeration. Medium-bodied, the palate is youthfully fresh with stylishly restrained citrus and white stonefruit flavour. The mouthfeel is zesty and refreshing with steely acidity, the wine following a very fine textured line, unfolding subtle nutty and mineral elements. This needs more time in bottle to reveal its character. At present, tight and steely, but with 3-4 years ahead of it. Fruit from the Woodthorpe Terraces, Bridge Pa Triangle and Havelock Hills, a portion WBP and one-third barrel-fermented and two-thirds fermented in tank to 13.5% alc. Two-thirds of the wine is barrel-aged for 3 or 6 months and the new oak is approx. 10%, with around 35% undergoing MLF. 17.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $24.95

Te Mata ‘Zara’ Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2016
Bright, even straw-yellow colour. This has an elegantly presented nose with a tight core of apricots, citrus zest and white and yellow florals, along with savoury apricot kernels. The fruit aromas show clarity, revealing nuances of nutty oak. Dry to taste and firm on palate, this has good depth and density of apricot and citrussy fruits, with savoury kernel elements. The palate is rich, with a degree of unctuousness, and has some underlying alcohol drive, the wine flowing along a fine-textured line, with bright acidity in support. The savoury flavours carry to a lingering rich finish. This is a rich and complex, savoury apricotty Viognier with power and good acidity. 3-4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Woodthorpe Terrace’ vineyard, vines 20+ y.o., fully barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc. and dryness, the wine aged 10 months on lees in 5% new oak undergoing 100% MLF. 18.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $33.95

Te Mata ‘Estate Vineyards’ Hawke’s Bay Gamay Noir 2016
Even ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh and vibrant with lifted primary red cherry and berry fruit aromas along with confectionary and red floral notes, the aromatic growing in depth revealing dark-red fruits with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is soft and plush with juicy and fruity red berry, cherry and floral flavours along with confectionary and jam notes. The mouthfeel is refreshing with soft, supple, light extraction, and bright, mouthwatering acidity. The wine is accessible and carries to a lifted, whole-berry lollyish finish. This is classical Gamay and carbonic maceration, light and tutti-fruity, and delicious for it. Drink over the next 2 years. Fruit from the ‘Woodthorpe Terraces’ vineyard, 55% undergoing carbonic maceration and fermentation, and 45% traditional fermentation to 12.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged 9 weeks in seasoned French oak. 17.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $24.95

Peter Cowley - Technical Director, Te Mata Estate

The 2015 Vintage Wines and Where Does 2015 Coleraine Fit In?
This is the third excellent vintage in a row for Te Mata and Hawke’s Bay. The 2013s from a very dry growing season are seen as beautifully ripe, but still very tight. The 2014s are seen as "fruit bombs”, from an early vintage with warmth throughout, and rain at the right times. The wines are plump and fruity, but their tannins will enable them to keep. 2015 had a cool start, but again, warm and dry weather in January and February ripened the smaller than usual crops. The 2015s generally have an "immediate charm”, and for Te Mata display "a sense of Hawke’s Bay”. Their character has given the title of this showcase tasting: "The Fabulous Fifteens”.

The question on most consumers’ minds is how good is the 2015 ‘Coleraine’, and how does it compare with the 2013 and 2014 vintages. I see the best of this trio to be the 2013, with great vibrancy and best potential to age, and I have rated it 19.5+/20. The 2014 had a freshness and edginess which suggested leafiness (in a positive varietal sense) and I scored it 19.5-/20 on release. The 2015 wine has lovely richness allied to structure. It has both a degree of accessibility from its sweetness, but also the extraction to keep very well, and I’ve given it 19.5/20.

Te Mata ‘Estate Vineyards’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Moderately deep ruby-red colour with slight garnet hues on the edge. The nose is deep with good intensity of dark-raspberry and black berried fruits with soft black pepper notes, revealing nuances of liquorice, white pepper and herbs. Medium-bodied, the palate has softly concentrated flavours of dark raspberries and black fruits, along with black and white pepper, red florals and spice notes. The mouthfeel is dry with fine-grained tannin textures and soft acidity mellowing the fruitiness. The wine carries to a gentle finish. This is a soft, dry Syrah with red and black fruits and lifted peppery notes. 3-4 years. 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier, the fruit from the ‘Woodthorpe Terraces’ vineyard and Bridge Pa Triangle, co-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 7 months in 10% new French oak. 17.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $24.95

Te Mata ‘Estate Vineyards’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernets 2015 
Very dark, deep, black-red colour, youthful in appearance. This has an elegant, well-concentrated nose with integrated dark-red plum, red currant and blackcurrant fruit aromas, the oaking subtle and harmonious. Medium-bodied, the palate exudes balance, integration and elegance with fine, sweetly ripe flavours of blackcurrants and redcurrants and soft red plum elements. The fruit follows a very fine-grained tannin line, and the palate has freshness from the acidity. The wine carries with vibrancy to a long, lingering blackcurranty finish. This is an elegant and balanced Merlot blend, 5-6 years ahead. A blend of 52% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, the fruit from the Bridge Pa Triangle, Havelock Hills and Woodthorpe Terraces, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 8 months in 10% new French oak barrels. 18.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $24.95

Te Mata ‘Cape Crest’ Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is full with sweetly ripe, densely packed aromas of ripe greengages and nectarines, unfolding an array of green stonefruits and tropical fruits entwined with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty complexing layers. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate possesses rich and layered, mouthfilling flavours of greengages, citrus and stonefruits along with tropical fruits, lantana, dark herbs and nutty oak. The mouthfeel is rounded and creamy, the wine following a fine line of grip and texture with good acid tension. This is lush and rich, and quite approachable now, but will keep 4+ years. A blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Sauvignon Gris and 4% Semillon, fruit predominantly from the ‘Bullnose’ vineyard with a portion from ‘Isosceles’, barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 8 months in 30% new oak with batonnage. 19.0-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $33.95

Te Mata ‘Elston’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
Bright, even, pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is very elegant and tightly bound, somewhat restrained initially, but extremely refined, unveiling white stonefruit, grapefruit and mealy complexities, with nutty oak detail and creamy barrel-ferment elements. Medium-bodied, the fruit is rich, detailed and very vibrant, the white stonefruit and citrus flavours complexed by layers of mealy and nutty oak, unfolding creamy barrel-ferment and MLF nuances. The fruit richness is enlivened by crisp and taut acidity, and driven by subtle alcoholic power, leading to a very long and sustained, refined finish with toasty oak elements. This is beautifully refined, balanced and complex, and shows its full character with aeration. 5-6 years ahead of it. Fruit from the ‘Elston’ and ‘1892’ vineyards in Havelock, 80% Mendoza and 20% clone 95, WBP and fully barrel-fermented, a third with indigenous yeasts to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 35% new French oak, on lees with full MLF. 19.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $41.95

Te Mata ‘Bullnose’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, slightly lighter on the rim. This is rich and ripe on the nose with intensely concentrated aromas of dark raspberries, blackberries and nuances of plums, along with an amalgam of violetty and red florals, black pepper and Oriental spices. Complexing savoury nuances of game emerge with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich with densely packed flavours of ripe dark raspberry and blackberry fruit with pepper and spice detail. Aromatic florals and suggestions of game add to the interest. The mouthfeel is harmoniously integrated with soft, ripe tannin extraction lending plenty of body and structure, the acidity beautifully melded into the textures. The wine carries to a sweet and succulent finish with very fine balancing grip. This is an opulent Syrah, for the next 6-7+ years. 100% Syrah from the ‘Bullnose’ and ‘Isosceles’ vineyards fully destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 15 months in 40% new French oak barriques. 19.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $54.95

Te Mata ‘Awatea’ Hawke’s Bay Cabernets/Merlot 2015
Dark, deep, black-hearted red, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated with ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit aromas with nuances of tobacco and lifted oak. The aromatic are deep and intense, with breadth and proportion. Medium-full bodied, the palate possesses deeply concentrated, ripe flavours of blackberries, blackcurrants and dark-red plums. Complexing herb, tobacco and aromatic oak detail add complexing interest. The fruit is supported by very fine-grained, but considerable tannin extraction providing body, depth and a core of presence. The acidity is softly ripe and fine, and balanced with the textures. This has a completeness and the balance lends approachability. The wine has a very long, lingering sweet finish, unveiling cassis elements. This is beautifully ripe and balanced for keeping 8-10 years. A blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc, the fruit from Havelock and the ‘Bullnose’ vineyard, hand-picked and fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 16 months in 30% new French oak. 19.0+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $41.95

Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ Hawke’s Bay 2015
Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour, with a slightly lighter edge. The nose is beautifully elegant with stylish proportions and expressed with finesse, showing ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with cassis liqueur, lifted by fragrant dark red florals, subtle notes of dark herbs, and enriched by pencilly oak. Medium-full bodied, the fruit sweetness and richness is the immediate feature on the palate with concentrated and intense, layered flavours of blackberries and blackcurrants, cassis and black plums, along with herbs, floral elements and minerals, unfolding pencilly oak. The fruit richness is balanced by considerable tannin extraction, the mouthfeel very fine-textured and powdery. This has an underlying vitality, freshness and power, carrying the plush fruit flavours to a very long, lingering, textural finish. This is a classically structured, ageworthy Cabernet blend with refined opulence. 10-15 years. A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the fruit predominantly from Havelock with a portion from the ‘Bullnose’ vineyard, hand-picked and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 17 months in 70% new French oak barrels. 19.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $141.95

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