de la terre 2014 White and 2013 White and Red Releases

21-Jul-2015
de la terre is the winemaking venture of Tony and Kaye Prichard who have a winery, cellar door and café complex on the Taihape Road out of Hastings. ‘de la terre’ means ‘of the earth’ and refers to the vineyards soils as well as the earth brick construction of their buildings. Since Tony left Church Road where he was chief winemaker at the end of 2005, he and his wife began the establishment of their own label, sourcing small amounts of fruit while working as a consulting winemaker for various clients. They made wine at a friend’s winery while they built their own winery which was first used in 2009.

2013 is regarded as a watershed year for the Prichards, as this is when they took a lease on the 5.3 ha ‘Hill Country Estate’ vineyard in the ‘Te Mata Special Character Zone’ committing them to the total yield, rather than the much smaller contracted supply as previously used. They are especially happy with the quality of the fruit and the quantity which allows them to step up to a production of 2,750 to 3,000 dozen wine from approx. 40 tonnes of grapes, which they consider ideal to manage. The winery on Taihape Road was extended at the end of 2013 to comfortably handle the increased tonnage. The wines from 2013 onwards reflect a new level of operating where the Prichards have the desired control of the fruit source.

The ‘Hill Country Estate’ (HCE) vineyard was planted over 2002 to 2006, and supplies Chardonnay, approx. 45% of the production, 20% Viognier, 10% each of Barbera and Syrah, and 5% Montepulciano. 10% of de la terre’s output is the Tannat variety, which is sourced from the ‘Cranwell’ vineyard which is 700 m from HCE, and both vineyards are tended by Murray Hill of de la terre. The Prichards planted Tannat in HCE in 2014 to secure their supply of the variety which is deemed a significant one in the portfolio. Aware of the high proportion of Viognier in relation to the market demand, Tony has experimented with five different styles for 2015, a fruit-focussed ‘Premium’ bottling, a tight ‘Reserve’ wine, a selection for a Condrieu style called ‘Ridgeline’, a ‘Late Pick’ Viognier exhibiting ripeness, and a ‘Noble’ Viognier with full botrytis influence.

The Prichards’ philosophy with their wines is to achieve texture, elegance and balance. They are quite happy to sacrifice a degree of primary fruit and a mainstream style to achieve their aim of texture, balance and the ability to work with food. With whites, Tony uses free-run juice from gentle pressing, and techniques such as hyperoxidation to produce wines with minerality, complexity, finesse and longevity. With the red wines, he takes great care to achieve the correct balance between tannins and acidity, as learned from his time at Church Road where there was considerable input from Domaines Cordier. This is done during elevage, rather than adjustments after blending. There is a great deal of thought that goes into the making of the wines. They carry a sense of European tradition in the styling, but are also modern and contemporary.

Here, I review a selection of 2014 white wines, and 2013 white and red ‘de la terre’ wines, these representing the next phase for Tony and Kaye Prichard. www.delaterre.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW

  • de la terre Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2014
  • de la terre ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2014
  • de la terre Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014
  • de la terre ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014
  • de la terre ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2013
  • de la terre ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013
  • de la terre Hawke’s Bay Barbera 2013
  • de la terre Hawke’s Bay Montepulciano 2013
  • de la terre ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Tannat 2013
  • de la terre Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013
  • de la terre ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013
  • de la terre Hawke’s Bay Noble Viognier 2013

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