John O'Connor, from Matariki Estate in the heart of the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district of Hawkes Bay, made his annual pilgrimage to Auckland earlier in the week to show off his current release wines. Amongst these are the new 'Aspire' range targetted at the important under-$20 market.
Matariki Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Pale. Clean pungent aromas, it's fruity and crisp with flavours of feijoa and tropical fruit on a creamy backbone. Very ripe, very juicy, no developed green vegetable characters at all. Full flavoured. Very good and drinking very nicely for summer 2003. $20. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Light yellow gold. This wine has a good dollop of Semillon that Matariki had added to give more 'green' flavours to the blend. It's quite acid driven, picking up the greens that they want, filling with passionfruit, tropical fruit and melon. A crisp, lifted and very refreshing wine with a honey-soft finish. $25. 11Oct2003.
Matariki are about 6 months behind Marlborough when releasing their savvies. They do not seem to be at a disadvantage from this in the flavour department at least.
Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2002 (sc)
Lemon gold. A fruit style, partially oaked, it's got a strong melon and citrus backbone with a yeasty complexity and underlying grapefruit and spice, some creamy pineapple lingers on the toasty finish. Quite mouthfilling for a light, fruity, drink now style. Very approachable. $19.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2001
Dark straw to pale gold. A more full-bodied style with a sweet mealy backbone and quite luscious flavours of peach with warm mellow oak adding interest. Underlying barrel ferment character of nuts and figs and touch of citrus lifts the spicy melon and mellow oak finish. Lovely mouthfeel. Lively and approachable. $27.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Reserve Chardonnay 2001
Bright yellow gold with bready aromas, this is a big mealy style. It's very dry with well-integrated savoury oak, a wine that is influenced by winemaking characters rather than the chardonnay fruit. There's some spicy acidity on the finish which lingers with sherbet-like grapefruit making an appearance. It's a lovely, rounded, big full-bodied wine and the flavour is persistent and long. $35.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Pinot Noir 2001
A medium weight wine in appearance, there's a slightly leathery, bretty, sweaty aromas, it's dry and lean on entry with sweet strawberry and cherry fruit that emerges and lingers, a simple style that would find it hard to compete with the wines from down south. $29.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Reserve Pinot Noir 2000
There's more of a robust character to this wine that compliments the savoury bittersweet characters. Lots of acidity, sour cherry and rhubarb fruit, slightly leathery and an earthy, savoury finish. $47.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Aspire Merlot Cabernet 2002
Attractive, pinky red, almost inky in its depth. It's a fruit bomb in the mouth, a mouthful of cherries, plums and red berries with musky overtones and a vanillin oak backing. The soft velvety tannins add structure to this care-free, summer BBQ style. $19.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Reserve Merlot 2000
Classic cigar box aromas, that hint of Brett comes through with its leathery like signature. A rich, full-bodied wine with dense concentrated fruit characterised mostly by plums, a sound tannin backbone and integrated earthy French oak. It's developing well and becoming quite Bordeaux-like. $39.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Rich and concentrated, a lovely integration of cassis, leather and oak with a sound silky tannin structure, this is undoubtably one of the best 100% Cabernet Sauvignon's around today. I've previously reviewed this as a Wine of the Week - w/e 15Jun2003. $39.50. 11Oct2002.
Matariki Quintology 2000
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Malbec. Dense and dark in its colour, there's a lovely concentration of ripe fruit with creamy French oak, cigars and just a touch of mint, it has a terrific tannin structure lifted by a seam of acidity, the acid in balance to the terrific structure of the wine. It's ripe and rich with sweet fruit balanced to the sweet leather, cigars and creamy oak that lingers. I've had this wine before and a Bretty character has overpowered it however there is nothing at all objectionable about this wine today, in fact I think it is rather fantastic and fully deserving of its recent A & P trophy. A very complete wine indeed. $36. 11Oct2002.
Matariki Aspire Syrah 2002
A spicy, full-bodied red with strawberry, cherry and juicy black berries. 7Nov2003.
Fantastic inky purple-black that we are becoming accustomed to with youthful NZ Syrah. Lots of fragrant rose pepper on the nose, there's plenty of plumy fruit in the palate, perhaps just a little stewed, and a solid leather and spicy oak backbone. A touch of cigar too. Good length. Not an overly complex style, it is a good intro to NZ Syrah. $19.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Reserve Syrah 2000
Developing beautifully since last tasted (Feb 02), with cedary, tarry, smoky complexities combining with deliciously sweet ripe fruit that wins on the day. Spice, cherries, raspberries, smoke and musk on the nose, sweet musky fruit in the ripe, rounded palate. Leather comes through on the finish and lingers with a spicy glow. A dry, savoury yet very fruity wine with a persistent finish. Very, very good. $29.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki Late Harvest Riesling 2002
Deep gold in colour and emitting wondrous botrytis aromas, orange, honey, apricot, beeswax and sweet ginger marmalade. Rich and concentrated, plenty of flavour, sugary but with terrific acid in there to balance it nicely. It's sweet and long with lots of fresh fruit, not raisiny at all. A rich, sweet wine that refreshes the palate and leaves a gorgeous lingering taste. $32.50. 11Oct2003.
Matariki is on the web at www.matarikiwines.co.nz.
Copyright Sue Courtney