General Blog

Te Awa’s New Releases at Havana Bar and Restaurant

By June 14, 2011No Comments

With Ant Mackenzie at the helm of Te Awa, the styles of the different tiers of wine he desires to show are beginning to take shape. Although Ant assumed his position in time for the 2009 vintage, such things take time, beginning with the vineyard, through to the winery and then to the marketing. I was extremely impressed with the super-premium Kidnapper Cliffs wines released a few weeks back (click here for my notes), so it was an opportunity to see his progress with the ‘Te Awa’ and ‘Left Field’ labels. Ant wants the Te Awa range to be where it always has been, from his perspective “edgy and with savoury interest”, and from my viewpoint “right down the line”. The ‘Left Field’ wines more fruit expressive and more accessible, befitting their more affordable price range. It is ironic that these ‘Left Field’ wines are probably going to be more ‘populist’ in terms of quantity drunk and by the wide audience they are going to reach.

A ‘Steak & Reds’ luncheon to show the latest wines from Te Awa was held at ‘Havana Bar & Restaurant’ in Te Aro, behind Cuba Street in Wellington. Lost in a maze of alley-like back streets, Havana is truly a special place to hang out. You could really be in Cuba for all you know, with the funky, pastel-coloured, stressed-wood look and Caribbean paraphernalia. Owner ‘Potti’ runs a seemingly cruisy, but very professional operation, and the Havana put on a tasty meal.

On arrival, there was the Te Awa Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2010 (17.5/20), a 60/40 blend mainly barrel-fermented. Quite restrained in expression, but carrying lovely weight, rich textures, soft acidity and a little oily-waxiness. This will age well, over the next 3-4+ years.

The entrée was Cauliflower soup spiked with truffle and served with roast scallop and pancetta. This was matched with the Te Awa Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2009 (17.5+/20), 100% barrel-fermented and MLF , with partial wild yeast work. Still quite tightly bound with citrusy, mealy fruit and a healthy dose of spicy oak. Amazingly soft on the palate, this seems to have the potential to become richer over the next 3-5 years.

From two choices of mains, I chose the Venison fillet on a kumara and thyme rosti with wilted garlic spinach and a pink peppercorn jus. Two red wines served. The Te Awa ‘Left Field’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2010 (17.5-/20) made with 5% Viognier, bright and purple, with a lifted, juicy, lollyish, jammy nose and palate of spices and dark red floral fruits, along with some herb notes. Light extraction and plenty of slippery acidity results in tension and zing. An all-purpose, near-anytime red to drink over the next 2-4+ years. It would be easy to underestimate the Te Awa Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2009 (18.0-/20) at this youthful stage. Dark and dense purple-red in colour and surprisingly elegant, this is marked by coolish, blackcurranty Cabernet Sauvignon aromas and flavours, the sweet plump Merlot only revealig itself with some air time. A youthfully primary and fragrant wine, this develops more depth and comes together to match the fine-grained tannin backbone. Just slightly more Cabernet(s) than Merlot, this will live 6-8+ years easily.
 

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