Featured Reviews

One Off 2017 ‘Clone Wars Chardonnay, and Te Awanga Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Pinot Noir 2015 and Merlot Franc 2014

11 June,2018

‘One Off’ and ‘Te Awanga Estate’ are brands of Rod McDonald representing different facets and approaches to winemaking and style. The ‘One Off’ wines are arguably the most interesting for wine enthusiasts, as they are limited production lots made from small parcels of fruit, taking advantage of the unique character of those grapes, and or employing special techniques in vinification or elevage, among other factors. They represent the innovative side of wine for Rod, and the brand name says it all – they are one-off, unlikely to be repeated bottlings. While exciting, they can be a marketing person’s nightmare as there is no continuity!

The ‘Te Awanga Estate’ brand is a Hawke’s Bay focussed one that encompasses wines that are elegant, fresh and aromatic in character, reflecting the style that emanates from fruit frown in the cooler, coastal sub-region. Te Awanga is where Rod has his home vineyard and cellar door. Many of the wines come from the 17 ha vineyard there, but a little confusingly, the wines under this brand can employ fruit from other vineyard sites. It’s all about the style for Rod, and once understood, it’s easy to follow. www.teawangaestate.co.nz

Here I review the new One Off ‘Clone Wars’ Chardonnay 2017, and the Te Awanga Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Pinot Noir 2015 and Merlot/Cabernet Franc 2014, all from Hawke’s Bay fruit.


One Off ‘Clone Wars’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, even, straw-yellow colour with slight green-gold hues, paler on the edge. The nose is elegant in proportion with fresh aromas of yellow stonefruits and hints of citrus fruit with mealy elements, melded with subtle creamy barrel-ferment elements, nutty oak and a little lemon-curd MLF. This is refreshing with clarity of fruit expression alongside the inputs. Medium-bodied, the palate has fresh, lively and up-front flavours of white and yellow stonefruits entwined with creamy and nutty oak, mealy nuances and some harmoniously interwoven lemon-curd MLF. The fruit forms a tight, well-concentrated core and the palate is enlivened by brisk, racy acidity, The wine flows along a fine-textured line, leading to a sweet-fruited, zesty finish with good length. This is a bright and lively, up-front Chardonnay with stonefruit, mealy and nutty flavours along with MLF elements on a crisp, racy palate. Match with grilled and roasted seafood or poultry dishes over the next 4 years. A blend of clones 121, 809 and 548, from the company’s Maraekakaho vineyard, WBP and fully barrel-fermented, partially with indigenous yeasts to 12.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 25% new oak, undergoing some batonnage and 75% MLF. 18.5-/20 Jun 2018 RRP $27.99

Te Awanga Estate Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, paler on the rim. The nose is softly fresh with light aromas of white stonefruits and fresh herbs, unfolding notes of gooseberries, green stonefruits and white florals with hints of flint and minerals. The nose grows in fruit richness in the glass. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has an elegant, near slender heart with finely bound flavours of white and green stonefruits with lifted herb and floral notes and gooseberries. The palate is fresh with brisk, but balanced acidity, and the wine has good energy and linearity, flowing to an elegant, mouthwatering finish. This is an elegant, finely bound Sauvignon Blanc with fresh, aromatic stonefruit and herbal flavours along with gooseberries and minerals on a fresh linear palate. Serve as an aperitif, with salads and vegetables, and seafood over the next 2 years. Fruit from Te Awanga, fermented in stainless-steel with 7% in barrel to 11.5% alc., the oaked portion aged 10 months in barrel with 20% MLF, all of the wine aged 2 months on gross lees with batonnage. 17.0+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $21.99

Te Awanga Estate Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Light ruby-red colour with some depth, paler edged with some garnet. The nose has moderate depth showing a complex amalgam of dark-red berry fruit entwined with dark and dried herbs at the core, along with subtle reductive mineral notes, unfolding earthy and floral elements. Medium-bodied, the palate has a sweet and rich heart of ripe, dark-red cherry and berry fruit melded with a subtle layer of dark herbs and earth. The fruit sweetness is supported by light, grainy tannin extraction, and lacy acidity that enlivens the mouthfeel. The palate unveils savoury, earthy detail and the wine carries to a lighter, elegant finish. This is a sweet and rich fruited Pinot Noir with ripe cherry and berry fruit interwoven with complex herbal and earthy notes on a grainy-textured palate with good energy. Match with wild duck and pork, and coq au vin over the next 4 years. Fruit 75% from Te Awanga and 25% from Maraekakaho, fully destemmed and fermented partially with indigenous yeasts to 13.0% alc., the wine aged in tank and barrel, the barrel portion for over 24 months in around 10-15% new oak. 16.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $27.99

Te Awanga Estate Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Franc 2014

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Even, dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge with some garnet hues. The bouquet is elegant in presentation with intense and finely penetrating aromas of dark-red berry and plum fruit entwined with subtle dried herb and earthy secondary development notes, unfolding a little funky game complexity. The aromatics grow in concentration in the glass. Medium-bodied, the palate has a good core of sweetly rich and savoury flavours of dark-red berry and plum fruit intermixed with dark herbs and an amalgam of earth and game notes lending a little funkiness. The fruit is underlined by fine-grained tannin structure and grip, with integrated acidity, and the wine carries to a lingering finish. This is a sweetly rich and concentrated Merlot-based wine with complex savoury berry and plum fruit with earth, dried herb and funky game detail on a fine-grained palate. Match with slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 5+ years. A blend of 92% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc and 3.5% Malbec, the fruit from Te Awanga, fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 24 months in approx. 20% new oak. 17.5/20 Jun 2018 RRP $27.99

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