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edited by Sue Courtney

Te Mata Estate 2007 Showcase New Release Tasting
© Sue Courtney
11 March 2007

Coleraine Vineyard, Te Mata Estate

When you get the opportunity to taste the new Te Mata releases, you take it. If you get that opportunity twice, you take it twice. After all, Hawkes Bay's Te Mata is one of New Zealand's iconic wine labels and the new releases are being hyped as some of the best yet, particularly the flagship wine, Te Mata Coleraine.

The first tasting was a trade and media tasting held at The Stamford Plaza in Auckland on March 7th. I was one of about 120 people at this seating tasting hosted by Te Mata principals John Buck and Nicholas Buck together with Technical Director Peter Cowley. Peter's first vintage at Te Mata was 1985, but he's had a hand in almost every vintage of Coleraine with the blending of the 1983 before its release. Who better, then, to take the tasters through a mini vertical of Coleraine. Next year will be 25 years since the first Coleraine was made are holding an historic 25th anniversary Coleraine tasting. There wonít be 25 wines, though, as there were a couple of poor vintages (1992 and 1993) when Coleraine was not made.

The second tasting was held at First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna on March 8th. It was one of the advertised consumer new release tastings, and as I write the tasting notes for First Glass, it seemed appropriate that I be there. Well, I'm so glad I was, because this time the wines were tasted in fabulous Zerrutti Ultimo tasting glasses, and all of the new release wines were able to express themselves so much more eloquently.

Before I launch into the tasting notes, a spiel about the seasons - taken from Te Mata Estate's showcase booklet.

The 2005 season started out as 'normal' and summer was hot and dry, a factor that instilled the quality factor. But just after harvest started on the 9th March, the rain came. However the vineyards quickly dried out and as the red wine grapes were still developing, the quality was not affected. The berries were the smallest on record, pure concentration. Harvest finished on the 2nd May. It was the longest harvest in Te Mata Estate's history.

The 2006 season was the third high quality vintage in a row for Te Mata Estate although the crop was smaller than average. Key factors were warm growing conditions in the spring and a very dry December and January (which did cause critical mild stress to the red grape vines) and warm conditions right through April until the end of harvest on the 22nd. It was good timing as a 100mm deluge of rain hit the Bay a few days later.

The Wines

These notes compare the two tastings - the first one at the Te Mata function where smaller 'XL5' tasting glasses were used, and the second at First Glass Wines and Spirits, where larger Zerrutti 'Ultimo' tasting glasses were used. The picture (right) shows the comparison.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Viognier 2006
Most of the juice was fermented in seasoned oak and aged on lees with ten months maturation. 14% alc. Screwcap.
In the XL5: Lightly aromatic, nutty, creamy and delicately musky on the nose. A tight, dry wine in the palate with a piercing lemongrass and lime blossom infusion to the creamed nut texture and apricot flavours with a bready leesy complexity and a brightness to the lingering finish. On the track record of previous vintages, this will develop beautifully in the bottle and be gorgeous in a years time.
In the Zerrutti: Pale lemon colour, nutty aroma with hints of apricot, becoming quite floral. Sweetish in pale with intensely ripe fruit, apricot, pear and quince with hints of tropical fruit, oily texture, quite lifted and spicy with a hint of ginger and white pepper, even a slight rose musk character and a very, very dry finish.

Te Mata Cape Crest 2006
Fermented in French oak, 30% new, with aging on lees for a further eight months. Some spontaneous fermentation occurred. 13.5% alc. Diam closure.
In the XL5: Straw gold in colour, this blend of 85% sauvignon blanc, 11% semillon and 4% sauvignon gris shows delicate apricot on the nose with no typical sauvignon blanc scents. It's rich and powerful in the palate with barrel ferment and aging on toasty yeast lees making a firm impact. Lime acidity underpins the soft texture and stonefruit flavours linger with a hint of grassy herbaceousness.
In the Zerrutti: Exotic, wild yeast / barrel ferment aromas with intensely ripe peach, lime blossom, tropical guava, wild flowers and hay. In the palate there's spicy oak, honey stonefruit, gooseberries, limes, tropical guava and citrus, itís quite savoury despite all that fruit and bone dry with high-toned acidity and a full-bodied richness. It's a big, rounded style with a grainy texture and totally attacks every nook and cranny of the mouth. Followers of this style are going to love this.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2006
Fermented in new and seasoned French oak barrels with complete malolactic fermentation and maturation in barrel for 10 months. 14% alc. Diam closure.
In the XL5: Light gold with a richness to the colour; mealy, lemony lees characters dominate the aroma and it's fat and broad in the palate with toasty mellow oak becoming rich and nutty with spice, stonefruit and Elston's characteristic underpinning of citrus all building to a rich, full-bodied and very dry finish. Oak is harmonious, as always. At this showing it is very tight and needs to open up somewhat to show its best traits but it is not a wine made to drink on release - although we do - it is a wine that is made to cellar.
In the Zerrutti: Light gold with a richness to the colour, there are nutty, savoury, smoky oak aromas and a fragrance reminiscence of fresh lemon tart. Spicy with lifted acidity, pineapple, citrus and savoury oak, so much more overt than in the small glass. Rich, lemony leesy flavours add to the creamy, nutty texture, it's full-boded, spicy and mouthfillingly long. Lovely integration, harmony and balance. In the Zerrutti I could drink this now.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2005
100% Syrah matured in new and seasoned French oak barriques for 16 months with regular topping and racking.13.5% alc. Cork closure.
In the XL5: A lovely bright crimson-edged magenta, not as deep and opaque as some Hawkes Bay Syrahs, but very attractive to the eye. Aromatic and juicy on the nose with delicately spicy oak, allspice, hints of vanilla, liquorice and dried herbs with tar and rose hips emerging after a while. Tight in the palate with dry tannins, French oak, a myriad of spice, cloves, even the slightest hint of chocolate while cherry and other red and purple fruits abound. It opens up beautifully on the finish with pepper leaving a spicy sensation and a bouquet of bright fruit flavour. Dry, with great length and the aftertaste is as juicy as the first hint of the fragrance promised. A very harmonious, understated wine with great potential for the future.
In the Zerrutti: Fragrantly aromatic, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, dried herbs. In the palate it's so harmonious with gorgeous silky tannins, clove, allspice, lavender and anise and the fruit - perfection - full of purple berries and cherries. The colour looks light but it shows that syrah does not have to have an overly saturated colour when there is ripe fruit intensity and weight and concentration in the palate.

Te Mata Awatea 2005
Made from a blend of 35% cabernet sauvignon, 43% merlot, 18% cabernet franc and 4% petite verdot with maturation in new and seasoned barrels for 20 months. 13.5% alc. Cork closure.
In the XL5: Classic cedary French oak bouquet infused with blackcurrant, plume and leather. Ripe and creamy on the palate with currants, spice and a slightly herbal undercurrent. It has a kind of 'trying too hard' feel about it, trying hard to express the fruit, but it is savoury rather than fruity though dusty blackberries emerge to linger on the finish. In summary, it is dry, savoury and earthy with a firm tannin structure and concentration.
In the Zerrutti: Magenta/purple; aromas as before, in the palate there is leather, cedar, mint, and pencil box, it's very tight with firm acidity, sweet oak emerges, dry (supple, even) tannins, and a concentrated finish.

Te Mata Coleraine 1998
A blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot and 8% cabernet franc. 13.5% alc. Cork closure. Recommended to cellar to 2020.
In the XL5: Amazing colour, still deep, no sign of browning to the redcurrant red. Rich, concentration, deep fruited aroma, not quite jammy ripe fruits over creamy oak with a little bit of bottle pong. In the palate it's rich, biscuity and creamy with bright redcurrant fruit, hints of cherries, leather and cedar with a savoury aftertaste with an essence of dried herbs. The fruit in this wine is gorgeous and although showing a little maturity it is still on the developing curve with years of life ahead of it. From the hottest year Te Mata has ever experienced.
In the Zerrutti: This sample a guava red, fading a little. Savoury, ripe, sweet fruited, very harmonious with dried cherry, a touch of marmite, tobacco, bay leaf, cedar, biscuits and chocolate. These wine has flavour, length, focus and plush grainy tannins - and the aftertaste - well, I just get a long, mellow, 'feel good' feeling

Te Mata Coleraine 2000
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% merlot and 19% cabernet franc. 13% alc. Cork closure. Recommended to cellar to 2015.
In the XL5: Deep red with slight bricking. When first poured the aromas is rich, ripe and opulent with creamy oak and intense and concentrated sweet berry fruit but after a few minutes n the glass the opulence has faded and the aroma becomes quite savoury and mature smelling. A meaty, tarry wine with a spicy backbone and an earthy undercurrent with tobacco, cigar, herbs and quite coarse tannins. Crushed berries emerge on the finish as a layer over the dark, almost chocolatey, creamy oak.

Te Mata Coleraine 2003
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% merlot. 13.5% alc. Cork closure. Recommended to cellar to 2018.
In the XL5: Rich and savoury smelling with creamy oak and concentrated fruit, it's savoury, spicy and liquoricy with a fine texture and a rich vinosity. Nutty and creamy with lovely silky tannins, there's a deep succulence to this wine. You can taste the cab sauv, the purple fruit, the wild roses and the dried herbs. Looking very good and to me the surprise of the tasting. A classic wine in the Bordeaux sense, poised, ripe and everything in place.

Te Mata Coleraine 2004
39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% merlot and 16% cabernet franc. 14% alc. Cork closure. Recommended to cellar to 2019.
In the XL5: Not as brightly intense as the 2005, but still bright, it's also not as intense on the nose as the others, but unlike the other older wines that fade quite quickly on the nose, this opens up to be ripe, creamy, opulent, fruity and spicy with a hint of chocolate. A quite meaty style with liquorice and spice, it shows it class in the palate with rich, dark, plum and blackberry fruit, an herbal undercurrent, liquorice spices, creamy oak and a brightness of cassis on the finish. Very appealing already, it is so primary and shows so much potential and the fine grained tannins are harmonious with the wine as a whole.

Te Mata Coleraine 2005
37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% merlot and 18% cabernet franc with maturation in new and seasoned oak for 20 months. 13.5% alc. Cork closure. Recommended to cellar to 2022.
In the XL5: Closed on the nose, cedary, savoury- aromatic spices emerge and hints of red berries. The French oak and the spicy character of the oak is what overpowers the wine right now in the palate, the fruit is dark, concentrated, hidden, the fine tannins are powerful and focused, and hints of liquorice, spice and cedar emerge on finish. Cedar is the dominant character on the aftertaste. A wine that is such a baby, it has a lot of growing up to do. However Te Mata is confident that this is the best wine theyíve made.
In the Zerrutti: Again a different wine from yesterday, sweet cedar, liquorice, rosemary and floral on the nose, itís rather opulent, so focused, so fine, so harmonious with cherries, red fruits, tobacco, spice, herbs, cigar box and chocolate box. The plush tannins are meaty and tight knit but very fine and in proportion to the rest of the components. Vanilla emerges with an underlying herbal character that is intrinsic to the cabernet sauvignon component of the wine.

Further information:

Copyright Sue Courtney
March 2007

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