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edited by Sue Courtney

Te Mata Estate Annual Release Tasting
© Sue Courtney
24 February 2004

Coleraine Vineyard, Te Mata Estate

This release encompasses the 2003 whites and the 2002 reds. Normally the flagship Te Mata Elston Chardonnay is released in February but as the vines get older they are producing more concentrated grapes. It was especially so in 2003, which is also a low cropping vintage. Elston Chardonnay will now be released in October the year following vintage.

This release also sees a different varietal make up to the Awatea and the Coleraine. Awatea is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Coleraine is for the first time Merlot dominant with a similar portion of Cabernet Franc and a lesser amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The price structure has also changed. With a recommended retail of $33, the quest is to make Awatea the 'best value' premium red wine in New Zealand. Coleraine is now pointed at $62 a bottle.

The 2003 vintage saw significant frost damage throughout the country with the hardest hit region being Hawkes Bay. Te Mata was rather lucky with only their Bullnose and Isosceles vineyards in the Ngatarawa Triangle hit by frost. However it was a particularly cooler than normal spring which affected the yields of the Chardonnay and the Merlot. The summer was hot with rain at the end of the season, which meant being selective at harvest. For Te Mata this meant hand picking all their fruit. Overall it was a difficult vintage but if managed well and growers had the luck that Te Mata had, it will not be so bad in the long term.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Released last year, this has been developing for some time in the bottle. Pineapple on the nose, quite textural in the palate, bright and zingy with a summer herb backbone and a bright tropical fruit finish. A creamy-fruit textured wine with good length.
Tank fermented. Bottled August 2003. 12.5% alc. RRP $19.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Straw gold in colour. Mellow smoky oak on the nose with a creamy tropical fruit note. Creamy in the palate with spicy stonefruit richness atop a steely citrus backbone, there's lees influence and a smoky grilled pineapple flavour lingering. There's a small amount of Sauvignon Gris in this wine. Itís a similar grape to sauvignon blanc with a slightly different flavour profile. It is used to enhance the blend.
Barrel fermented. Yeast lees aged. Bottled December 2003. 13.5% RRP $36.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Viognier 2003
Light gold, bright in colour. Leesy with a faint oak influence on the stonefruit-rich nose. Bright fruit upfront, a subtle barrel ferment influence draws the wine into a softly acidic, slightly smoky fruit salad of peach, apricot, pear and pineapple, it's quite textural and very appealing with stonefruits flavours winning on the day. The warm fruity finish, where sweet orange emerges, lasts for ages. It doesnít have the woodiness of some chardonnays nor the pungency of sauvignon blanc. It has less acidity than a Riesling and heaps more expression and liveliness than Pinot Gris. As soon as you taste it you can see why Te Mata love this variety. They consider it an aromatic variety and it tastes as such although it didnít appear so at first on the nose, it opened up later. Why is it that the wines you like the best are the ones you canít buy. It was a tiny crop this vintage with about 7/8 tonne per hectare harvested. This wine is basically sold out. It may be seen in some restaurants, however.
Barrel fermented. Yeast lees aged. Bottled December 2003. 13% RRP $33.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2003
Light gold, lees influenced, mealy, smoky, it appears to have a lot of work for a wine of this price. A dry fruity wine with soft ripe peachy stonefruit and a fine seam of lime-like acidity providing length.
Barrel and tank fermented. Bottled November 2003. 13.5% RRP $22.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2002
Light-medium gold, grapefruit with a mealy yeast lees influence on the mellow smoky nose. Rich and mealy in the palate, smoky savoury oak, fine acid backbone, full rich and textural, harmonious right across the palate, still very tight in some respects, a wine to evolve. This is more apparent as the wine lingers in the mouth, the sweet pineapple hints take a minute to emerge. Full-bodied and long, rich and mealy, full of stonefruit flavours with a firm acid backbone.
Barrel fermented. Full malolactic. Yeast lees aged. Bottled January 2003. 14% RRP $36.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2002
Red black, almost opaque. Bright fruit, gentle oak spice and fruit spice on the nose, fragrant, almost floral, a little peppery, some savoury herbs, it smells clean, varietal. Concentrated red berry fruits in the palate, fragrant spices, new leather and a peppery brightness to the creamy finish with perhaps just a hint of 'Black Forest' chocolate. The ripe fruit tannins are not at all intrusive, they are soft and supple and give the wine great length. There's a meaty nuance in there too. Coming back to this wine after the Awatea and Coleraine the aroma smells of sweeter creamy oak and fruit in comparison and it has more acidity. Absolutely delicious, Iíd love a big glass of this.
16 months in new and seasoned French oak. Bottled October 2003. 14.5% alc. RRP $36.

Te Mata Awatea 2002
47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot
Deep blackcurrant red in colour, not totally opaque and a little lighter than I expected from the vintage. Smoky on the nose with fragrant spices, leather, cedar, cherry, plum and blackcurrant, as it sits in the glass it becomes even more fragrant. The lifted upfront blackcurrant character of Cabernet Sauvignon flows into a soft and creamy, slightly smoky mouthful with a touch of spice, leathery and earth, plum and blueberry linger. Not as voluptuous as I was expecting but overall a beautifully structured harmonious wine that will be of great appeal to those who do not want a blockbuster.
18 months oak. Blended January 2003. Bottled December 2003. 14% alc. RRP $33

Te Mata Coleraine 2002
30% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
Opulent from the outset in both colour and fragrance, it's deeply scented with violets, currants, cedar, spice and concentrated berry fruits. Lovely vinosity and concentration in the silky textured palate, it has the Coleraine signature of harmony. Blackcurrant dominates the fruit profile at first, then blends into plum and currant with woodsmoke. Supple ripe tannins prove a firm backbone while good acidity lifts the finish. Red berries and slightly chocolatey oak linger. Harmonious throughout, it's drinkable at this early stage of its life, the more it sits in the glass the more it opens up and builds in fragrance - the Cabernet Franc is obviously a big factor in this.
Previously a blend that was Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, the Merlot content this year is about the same, there is much more Cabernet Franc and a lot less Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2002, the vintage conditions suited Cabernet Franc extremely well.
Nicholas Buck sees this wine as a combination of the 1990, 1991 and 1995 vintages together. I like it very much.
18 months oak. Blended January 2003. Bottled December 2003. 14% alc. RRP $62.

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Copyright Sue Courtney
February 2004

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