Left Field from the Te Awa Collection

09-Mar-2015
It has been a waiting game to see how Te Awa would emerge from the Villa Maria Estates chrysalis since it was purchased late in 2012. I’ve made discreet enquiries with the Villa Maria folk and Ant Mackenzie about the progress and re-emergence of this fine Hawke’s Bay brand, and the feelings have been positive all round. No doubt there has been considerable soul-searching to ensure that the individuality of ‘Te Awa’ and its associated brands of ‘Left Field’ and ‘Kidnapper Cliffs’ would be maintained, especially in the light of the Villa Maria Estates group already having Hawke’s Bay presences in the form of Vidal Estate, Esk Valley and wines under Thornbury and Villa Maria itself. There are plans for the Te Awa winery to be extended and upgraded, and the site to become the base for Villa Maria’s Hawke’s Bay operations. So the value of the acquisition will certainly be recognised in the near future. It’s a very good outcome.

The Te Awa Collection
The Te Awa wines in their new form have now been announced, as the ‘Te Awa Collection’. The premium wines will remain under the ‘Te Awa’ nomenclature, these being single estate Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay wines, very much as the brand has represented in its past life. ‘Kidnapper Cliffs’ also continues as unique expressions of selected parcels from within the Te Awa estate, again as previous. The range of wines offered under these brands has been consolidated to show the best expressions, these being Chardonnay, Syrah and a Bordeaux-varietal blend. I’ve been told that this is the basis for the relaunch of these brands, and that in the future, there may be other wines added. From my perspective, hopefully these could be Semillon, Pinotage and Malbec!

The most significant change has been with the ‘Left Field’ wines where the range has been increased and broadened, and includes wines made from fruit outside Hawke’s Bay. The new labelling is particularly noteworthy with fanciful creatures created and designed by Aaron Pollock adorning the bottles reflecting the overall creative philosophies in making the wines. The quirky creatures are beautifully and intricately drawn on the labels, and they incorporate the Te Awa windmill.

Technical and Style Developments
On the technical side, Richard Painter from Vidal Estate has assumed the winemaker position, with former chief winemaker and general manager Ant Mackenzie having a strong supporting and consulting role. Completing the team is the very experienced John van der Linden, who is Te Awa’s viticulturist. Ant has had significant influence in the development of a number of the new wines. The wines made since the Villa Maria purchase retain much of the characteristics and personalities they had previously. Clearly Villa Maria has recognised the success of the earlier wines, and endeavoured to keep their essence. There have been stylistic changes made, these for the better, according to Ant, and the wines are not clones of anything else under the Villa Maria umbrella.

This is extremely positive and promising news for past and existing fans of Te Awa. I count myself as among this group, as I awarded my inaugural Raymond Chan Wine Reviews ‘Winery of the Year’ award in 2011 to Kidnapper Cliffs. I look forward to seeing the new Te Awa and Kidnapper Cliffs wines soon. In the meantime, I review six of the new release Left Field wines. www.teawacollection.com

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW

  • Left Field Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
  • Left Field East Coast Pinot Gris 2014
  • Left Field Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014
  • Left Field Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2014
  • Left Field Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
  • Left Field Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013

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