Stephen Tanzer - Vinous, February 2016
About this WINE
Te Mata Estate
Te Mata Estate is New Zealand's oldest winery, dating from the early 1890's. Vines were first planted at Te Mata Estate in 1892 on three parcels of hillside land above the homestead. Today, Te Mata Estate still utilises those original three vineyards to produce its most famous wines; Coleraine, Awatea and Elston. Coleraine derives its name from the Coleraine vineyard, home of John & Wendy Buck who have been co-owners of Te Mata Estate since 1978. All the original vineyards have been replanted.
It is a New Zealand family owned winery - a true estate, specialising in grape growing and winemaking from its ten Hawke's Bay vineyards. Acknowledged as one of only five icon wineries in New Zealand. Te Mata's completely handmade wines are renowned as the country's finest.
Under the direction of John Buck, Te Mata Estate has, over nearly thirty years, produced a stunning array of red and white wines including such famous labels as Coleraine and Awatea Cabernet/Merlots, Bullnose Syrah, Elston Chardonnay and Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc.
The first Coleraine was made from the 1982 vintage and created an instant sensation within New Zealand for its quality. Originally a single vineyard wine, from 1989 Coleraine has been an assemblage of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc wines produced from thirty plots within Te Mata Estate’s nine Hawke’s Bay vineyards. Peter Cowley, now Technical Director, has been in charge of winemaking since 1984.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Te Mata has also developed a unique single vineyard from which it produces its Woodthorpe wines.
Hawkes Bay, encompassing Napier on the east coast of North Island, is New Zealand's second largest region by plantings, with 4,500 hectares (or 20 percent of the country's total) in 2006. It is led by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (34 percent), Chardonnay (23 percent), Sauvignon Blanc (16.5 percent) and Pinot Noir (nine percent).
It boasts a diverse spread of soils, from fertile alluvial to stony dry, resulting in an array of variously-sized wineries from the small to the not-so-small; the region accounts for 12.5 percent of the country's 530 wineries, suggesting a happy balance between the two.
Hawkes Bay continues to fine-tune its Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc Bordeaux blends, offering some fine, fresh, pencil-shaving-nuanced examples, particularly from the Te Mata Estate (ie Coleraine). The more recent success story seems to be that of Syrah, in a cool, black pepper Northern Rhône style.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.