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Wine of the Week for week ending 23 June 2002
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TOM 1998
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
There is a new New Zealand icon. Its name is 'Tom'. It is a wine made from 'Bordeaux-variety' grapes grown in Hawkes Bay from the outstanding vintage that was 1998. It is a wine that represents the pinnacle of winemaking that New Zealand's largest wine company, Montana Wines, can achieve. It is a wine dedicated to Tom McDonald, who is hailed as the father of red wine making in New Zealand. In 1927 as a young 19-year-old, Tom McDonald purchased the vineyard in Hawkes Bay where the Church Road winery stands today.

Tom 1998 is a deep black-red with crimson-ruby hues, very deeply satisfying dark berry, savoury, slightly leathery scents - I think of the leather of pressed merlot grape skins - and quite a savoury flavour profile in which oak plays a big part adding a dark leather and spice cedary flavour to the dark berries.

A piece of rare venison sweetens the wine in the mouth and cuts through the strong powdery tannins.

There's a long solid, creamy textured ripe berry and spice flavoured finish and a long and satisfying after-flavour lifted in its fruit profile and complemented by the spicy oak and savouriness.

This is a good food wine and was delicious with accompanied with Denver leg venison with a cumin and pepper crust and a cauliflower puree, a Duck confit with mushrooms and a balsamic reduction made with a merlot jus and even a lighter style fresh mozzarella and ratatouille tart.

Tom is made from a blend of 50% Merlot with 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Cabernet Franc. It was made using Bordeaux-influenced winemaking techniques that have evolved from the technical relationship that Montana has had ongoing with Domaines Cordier since 1991. The wine was aged in oak for 18 months, blended, bottled and bottle aged at the winery until release.

Although almost 10,000 bottles (800 cases) of Tom 1998 were produced, the wine is under strict allocation in New Zealand. It will cost NZ$99 a bottle and can be purchased directly from Montana, either at the Church Road Winery in Hawkes Bay, the Brancott Estate winery in Marlborough or from the Montana Wines head office in Auckland, phone 0800 570 8488 or visit the Tom website to order.

Tom 1998 will also be available from selected retail outlets and in leading restaurants, where you will expect to pay $150 to $200 a bottle.

Overseas readers will be glad to hear the wine is destined for London Paris and New York - check the Montana website for agents and distributors.

© Sue Courtney

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