This week's been a busy week but New Zealand wines didn't really figure. In fact my favourite wines were a heavenly tasting Alsace Grand Cru Henri Ehrhart Gewurztraminer 2002 - truly divine, and a voluptuous mouthfilling Aussie shiraz called Tapestry 'The Vincent' from the 2001 vintage in McLaren Vale.
So rather than focus on just one New Zealand wine hastily tasted without food and away from my usual surroundings, I've decided to bring you my notes from the recent Te Mata Estate annual release tasting.
Now these were tasted in fantastic surroundings and there was food. And if circumstances had been different I am sure at least one of these wines would have been made 'Wine of the Week'. But they were tasted the same week as my niece's wedding and while she was besotted by her handsome new husband, I was besotted by the delicious Churton Sauvignon Blanc.
Nicholas Buck hosted the Te Mata tasting and there was the usual preamble about the vintages. "2004 showed great promise from early on," he said but he did admit there were some nervous times as well. But all panned out well and the delicious chardonnays have some of the best fruit weight ever seen. "Best we've produced to date," said Nick.
2003 started with frost hitting vineyards west of Hastings, including some of Te Mata's vines. The Bullnose Vineyard was one of those affected and the vines ended up producing a tiny yield. Just 150 cases of the 2003 Bullnose Syrah was made but it didn't make and an appearance at the tasting as it had long been sold. The cool start to the season reduced yields all round, even where frosts did not hit, but apart from that it was normal for the rest of the season.
There were 10 wines in the tasting, wines that show quality across the board, wines that show why Te Mata stays at the top.
Te Mata Woodthorpe Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Lightly grassy scents when tasted in a big glass. Like many Hawkes Bay savvy's this vintage, this is wonderfully varietal with a crisp steeliness, green fruit flavours, a richness to the texture and an oiliness to the punchy pungent finish. 13% alc. $19.95.
Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Made from 87% Sauvignon Blanc, 8% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Semillon, the grapes were barrel fermented in seasoned oak and aged on yeast lees for 8 months before bottling. It's full-bodied and rich with mouthfilling peach and melon fruit and hallmark sauvignon acidity on the finish that adds a brassy brightness as it lingers. The mealiness from the yeast lees and the mellow oak softens the wine and it is long and full. 13.5% alc. $25.
Te Mata Woodthorpe Hawkes Bay Viognier 2004
Made in a similar way to the Cape Crest with seasoned oak barrel fermentation and 8 month on yeast lees, this is perfumed yet delicate in its aroma and delicate in its flavour too. Subtle stonefruits on a mealy backbone with savoury oak and lifted, spicy acidity on the finish and a long, savoury, stonefruit aftertaste with a perfumed sweetness. 14.5% alc. $25.
Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2004
Made from the Mendoza clone, this was half barrel fermented and half tank fermented. The wine then underwent full malolactic fermentation and matured in barrel before bottling. With smoky, sweetly perfumed savoury oak, the sweet, spicy savouriness of the oak carries through to the palate. Lovely fruit, seamless in its flow, a beautiful wine with a spicy richness, stonefruit, hints of spicy pineapple, and a long, mealy savoury finish. 13.5% alc. $22.
Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2004
Fermented in seasoned French oak with malolactic fermentation then a further 10 months in barrel on yeast lees before bottling. Golden coloured, bright and gemmy with a bright, mealy, lightly toasty aroma and mouth-filling, juicy fruit flavours interweaved with mellow oak that has a mealy richness. Beautiful texture and flow, almost viscous, like the juice from a can of peach-influenced fruit salad. Lovely balance throughout with amazing fruit weight and a long, juicy, pineapple influenced aftertaste. This is the 21st vintage of this classy wine. 13.5% alc. $29.95.
Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2004
The gamay noir grapes underwent carbonic maceration and after fermentation the wine was aged in seasoned oak for 4 months. It is translucent dark red, gemmy in appearance, aromatic and floral with berry fruit and liquorice adding to the scent and light fruity flavours that have an earthy undercurrent with hints of beetroot and tomato, and a smoky finish. The vinosity of the wine gives mouthfeel and palate weight. A light-bodied red to match to lightly spiced Asian flavours. 12.5% alc. $19.95.
Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah Viognier 2003
The syrah was co-fermented with 2% Viognier then matured in French oak for 15 months. It is crimson red with good depth of colour and earthy, leathery, peppery aromas. The palate shows terrific fruit weight - a puree of black cherry, raspberry and blackberry on a creamy texture with silky tannins that have just a little bit of grip on the finish and a spicy aftertaste. There's a nuance of mint and other aromatic herbs as it lingers. Very smart. 13% alc. $25.
Te Mata Woodthorpe Cabernet Merlot 2003
Made from a blend of 28% Cab Sauv, 32% Merlot, 24% Cab Franc and 16% Petit Verdot, the grapes were fermented separately and matured in new and seasoned oak. They were blended together for further maturation before bottling. There's a slightly greenish tinge to the aroma and savoury, slightly earthy flavours with dry leathery tannins first up. Get past that to let the vinosity seduce the palate while sweet fruit and a musky, rose petal fragrance emerge. Liquorice and cigar linger on the finish. $13.5% alc. $22.
Te Mata Awatea 2003
A blend of 37% Cab Sauv, 47% Merlot, 11% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the separate ferments were run off to new and seasoned French oak then blended before further barrel aging. Appealing crimson red with purple hues. Warmly textured with dry tannins, cigar, and hints of chocolate. Lovely fruit, savoury smoky oak, very suave, almost seamless as it seduces the palate. Aromatic throughout with a lovely expression of liquorice and fruit on the finish. A baby Coleraine but ready much earlier. Put it with the right food for dinner and it will be a real treat. Opens up beautifully in the glass. I love the smoky, cedary aftertaste and the hints of musk, liquorice, cigar, leather and cassis/cherry fruit that linger. 13.5% alc. $29.95.
Te Mata Coleraine 2003
A blend of 50% Cab Sauv and 50% Merlot this has more depth to the colour than the Awatea, with an inky red black core and nice gradation of colour to the rims. There's an attractive intensity to the aroma and flavour with huge tannins, hallmark cedary oak, a wonderful threshold of cassis, cherry and plum fruit and a bright finish with winemaking flavours - oak, earth, sweet leather and herbs taking over the finish. It has the concentration, the intensity, the depth of pure fruit, the savouriness, the silkiness of the tannins and the overall balance. Hold and start drinking in 2007. 13.5% alc. $59.95.
Most of these wines should be available in retail. They even sell in some of the supermarkets.
Find out more from the www.temata.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
15 May 2005