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Wine Reviews - Cabernet 'dominant' Wines
2001 and older vintages
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 23 Mar 2013

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Cabernet dominant (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) notes, listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

[More recent vintages] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [older] [index]

2001 Vintage [top] [index]

Brick Bay Matakana Cabernets 2001 A medium-weight red with a fruity charm, a savoury leathery aspect and tobacco-like oak. There's a hint of vanilla and a warm earthy finish, a wine to match to an easy meal with perhaps a tomato flavour, like spaghetti bolognaise or a beef casserole cooked with a tomato paste. 12.5% alc. $22. 28Jun2004.

Canadoro Martinborough Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Dense and inky in its colour, it's a big rich, succulent, juicy wine, laden with concentrated blackberries and vanillin oak, firm tannins and lingering black berries. A tiny nuance of Brett adds some intrigue without too much distraction. 8Dec2003.

Gunn Estate Hawkes Bay Cabernet Malbec Merlot 2001 Seems fairly fine and vinous after the grunty Sacred Hill Helmsman. Flavours of red guava and berry fruit and an light finish. Pleasant drinking. A blend of 60% cabernet and 20% each of the others. NZ$16.95 22Jul2002.

Hawkhurst Estate Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Very tight on the nose emitting cedar, leather, cigar box and paint box, there's spritzy raspberry and tomato in the palate making it a little acidic upfront. Tobacco, smoke and ash with a leathery texture and some richness on the finish but hollow and lacking structure mid palate. Organically grown. 12% alc. 25Oct2003.

Hyperion 'the Titan' Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (c) Developing nicely in the bottle with good depth still to the fading deep red colour. Smoky and cedary on the nose, typical of a moderately aged NZ Cab Sauv, there are crisp red fruits in the palate with sappy cedary smoky oak, dusty grainy tannins, earth, leather, a hint of a mushroom-like pinosity and underlying acidity keeping it fresh. There's a plushness to the finish with sweet red and blackcurrant fruits lingering on the aftertaste. Not a blockbuster by any means but definitely some 'Bordeaux-like' complexities in more of a medium-bodied style. Aged in French and American oak for 18 month. 13% alc. $39. 17Jan2008.

Linden Estate Two Valleys Cabernet Malbec Merlot 2001 Smoky, cherry, meaty wine with a berry fragrance. Nicely structured, good berry flavours, ripe tannins and a sweet fruit finish that is quite refreshing. The two valleys are Dartmoor and Esk. $18 9Sep2002.

Kemblefield Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2001 Pongy, later this goes. oaky, cooked fruits, blood, metallic, simple but easy going. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Fruity aromas with a touch of dusty vanillin oak, light strawberry and raspberry fruits, this is soft and easy drinking with a juicy finish. A lightly oaked approachable style. 16/20.

Matua Matheson Cabernet Merlot 2001 Mint, biscuits, tar, smoke mocha, very big wine and for $20 is good drinking. Some decent structure in the wine with some grunty tannins. Definitely a bit of bang for the buck. Not as good as the 2000 but still very approachable. 6Nov2002.
Creamy oak, inviting aromas, Creamy, minty, vanillin oak (Am.), good, ripe, integrated, licorice. Fine oak and tannins. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Oaky, perhaps a little stalky now. Drying tannins, leathery, biscuity but fills out and lingers well. Cassis nose, juicy, creamy, smooth tannins, good, long, smoky finish. 17/20.

Matua Valley HB Cabernet Merlot 2001 Well-coloured red pinky rims. Spicy, plum, raspberry. Not v. much oak influence. Seems like a juicy 5 o'clock quaffer. 31Jul2002.

Murdoch James Cabernet Franc 2001 I adored this wine last time I was privileged to taste it, giving it 'Wine of the Week' status and I was not disappointed tasting it again almost four years later. Deep in colour, black red with crimson purple rims, it's hard to believe this is six years old as it looks so youthful. The aroma is rich, deep and cedary, the cedary oak carrying through to the palate with a Bordeaux-like cigar box nuance. The hot tar is still there, the tannins are bigger than I remember and the concentrated fruit has mellowed as it has started to integrate into the other components. 13% alc. 26Jul2006.

Ngatarawa The Stables Cabernet Merlot 2001 Touch of musk and spice on the berry nose. Not much influence of oak in this simple style that has a touch of cherry and licorice lingering. 2.5. 29Jun2002.

Nobilo Icon Marlborough Cabernet Merlot 2001 There is just so much more complexity in this wine that is so apparent when tasting it immediately after the House of Nobilo Merlot from the same vintage. This well coloured red/black wine is succulent and juicy with ripe plum and blackcurrant fruit layered with fruitcake spice and a long, rich, creamy lingering smoky flavour. It's very good and very moreish. Hold it over to the next day and it just gains so much more complexity with he airspace in the tightly recorked bottled allowing the wine to open up. 2Dec2002.

Pegasus Bay Cabernet Merlot 2001 Deep purple black colour. Fragrant wild berry aromas and spicy berry flavours. Deliciously ripe and well structured with blackcurrant, plum, firm tannins, sweet leather and smoke. A clean, well-made wine that will develop well. Can good cabernet and merlot be produced in Waipara? Yes, this is the proof. 9Sep2002.
Excellent colour of dense deep red with blackberry centre and carmine red rims. Rich and creamy with plums, licorice, leather and sweet smelling savoury smoky oak. There's a tad of Malbec in this wine and the richness and depth of flavour it adds is just terrific. A beautifully structured wine as one would expect from these fine Waipara vintners. Definitely one of the top cabernet merlot blends to come out of the South Island this vintage. I wait with anticipation for the Maestro, Pegasus Bay's top red from these varieties made only in exceptional years. They have made on in 2001 although I'm told it will be a blend of Merlot and Malbec only. 2Dec2002.

Stonecroft Crofters V A blend of 40% 2001 Syrah from Alan Limmer's 'home block', with 38% merlot and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2000 vintage. Bright youthful purple red colour of medium density. Even with the paint fumes, the attractive spicy berry and mellow spicy oak aromas are good. There's a good hit of spicy, peppery Syrah upfront in the mouth then loads of red berry flavours. It is very fruity with notes of redcurrant and blackberry while leather and chocolate emerge and linger on the creamy finish. This is a lovely wine and at $19 a bottle (on mail order) it is great value also. 17Feb2003.

Stonecroft Ruhanui 2001 A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Deep dark oaky wine, smells very tight but in the mouth the ripe berry flavours explode. A big meaty tarry wine, I can taste the flavours of roasted grapes and can imagine this with a roast leg of lamb. The fruit is ripe and spicy and the Syrah kicks in at the end. It's really smooth, the tannins are there but they are totally integrated. But the paint is distracting. A good wine that I think this will be one of the star reds of the Hawkes Bay 2001 vintage, which in many respects was variable with quality depending on when the grapes were picked. Alan said he was able to pick the ripe, low cropping vines exactly when he wanted. $30 on mail order. 17Feb2003.

Te Mata Awatea 2001 (c) Still a deep red yet showing some bricking to the edges, there's a barnyard savouriness on the nose but it's quite chocolatey in the palate and while the fruit is disappearing, a dried redcurrant concentration comes to mind. Tannins are as fine as they come, giving the wine an incredibly seamless and silky flow, with the savoury secondary vinous characters of bottle age lingering. 13% alc. 13Mar2013.

Te Mata Coleraine 2001 - Hawkes Bay (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Franc) A black red colour of medium to deep opacity there's smoky French oak with a whiff of exotic spices, tar and sweet leather on the nose. This is a tight, earthy wine with cigar box, tobacco, pencil shavings dominating the flavours at first however vigorous swirling will let the wine open up in the glass. It is a very finely structured wine with silky tannins, concentrated cassis and plum, rosemary, nutmeg, liquorice and spicy French oak that is beautifully integrated throughout. It begs to be drink out of a big glass if you want to drink right now. This is a wine with a deserved super-star image and will definitely reward cellaring. 13.5% alc. $56.95. 21May2003. *****
Fruit sweetness is the key to this black-red wine, especially after the Italian job. Opulent aromas are characterised by smoky oak, violets, leather and plum and though it's still fairly tight in the palate the tannins are fine. Concentrated cassis, plum and blackberries, tobacco, pencil shavings, exotic spices and classy French oak are just some of the flavours. It's a terrific wine with underlying depth and complexity, just one reason why it's one of NZ's best. 13.5% alc. 3Sep2003.
Dark red with some thinning of colour to the garnet edges, this is an intriguingly savoury wine, a dusty wine, a meaty wine with vinous sweetness and a roasted rosemary herbaceousness (think of rosemary roasted with lamb). Silky in its tannin structure, the flavours are expansive and fleshy with dried cherries, some rose petal florals and vinous concentration to the subtle spicy finish. Like the Awatea of the vintage, it is the savouriness takes over and persisting on the lingering finish. A lovely wine to sip, savour and converse over. 55% CS, 29% Merlot, 16% CF. 13.5% alc. 13Mar2013.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Cabernet Merlot 2001 Leather, tobacco, cherries and plums on the fragrant nose. A ripe style with cherry, blackcurrant and raisin fruit, a hint of sweet leather and a touch of chocolate. Quite rich firm tannins and sweet berry fruit that lingers with a hint of vanilla. 9Sep2002.
From the makers of the acclaimed Coleraine and Awatea, this company's second tier red is as good as many other producers' top wines. It's well coloured, rich and robust with solid plum and cassis fruit and spicy leathery tannins. A rich robust and flavoursome wine with good length. Terrific and just so satisfying with a BBQ'd honey and soy marinated lamb chop. $19. 27Dec2002.
Same bottle a few days later. Still holding. Good colour, good grainy tannins, ripe fruit flavours balance well to the oak, a little bit of tar and leather but dense baked plum, warm velvet texture, long, savoury warm.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2001 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Leather, plums and chocolate characterise the aroma of this well coloured dry red with richly concentrated plum and dark currant fruits balanced to savoury meaty oak with firm but succulent tannins and a cigar box finish. This wine is terrifically persistent with lovely concentrated fruit and balance throughout. I'd love another glass of it! Four gold medals and two trophies to date. 13.5% alc. $29.95. 16Jun2004.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2001 (sc) Sweeter smelling than the straight VM Res Merlot, with red berries and leather - I just love the fragrance of this wine. A brooding wine that is leathery and tight in the palate at first but the underlying sweet red fruit opens up well with toasty, spicy oak, nutmeg, liquorice and cinnamon too leading into a creamy, dark chocolate finish. A well structured wine with concentrated flavours. Give it time. Screwcap. 23Sep2003.

A big black-red wine with leathery aromas at first until the ripe cassis fruit breaks through. Creamy in texture with a lovely fine tannin structure, spicy oak, red fruits, a touch of chocolate, aromatic spices and a hint of liquorice on the finish. Beautiful structure and length with the finesse we now expect of the Villa Maria reserve wines. 13% alc. $41.95. 15Sep2004.
Fragrant, fresh sawn oak - very cedary and a little tarry. Quite dry in the palate, driven by the dry tannins and the cedary oak, it seems just a little volatile at first. It is still very tight with great structure and there is a lot of Bordeaux-like characters in the wine - without the Bordeaux dirtiness.. As the wine opens up, by the time the glass is almost empty, you can taste the class. I recommend that this is decanted before drinking. $39.95. 12Aug2005.

Weeping Sands Cabernet Merlot 2001 (Waiheke Island) Deep red, quite bright and youthful. Smells smoky and robust and full of berries. A seemingly easy drinking full-bodied red with a creamy smooth palate, a touch of mocha and firm tannins, but it really needs food after the first glass. Great for BBQ or a more formal meal. ***1/2 27Dec2003.

2000 Vintage [top] [index]

Alexander Vineyard Martinborough Cabernet Franc 2000 Med depth pinky-red. Fragrant wine with spicy fruit, licorice, plum, cherry and sweet leather. Lifted and clean with firm tannins on the finish. $23. 17Nov2001.

Alexander Vineyard Martinborough Basket Press Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Aged in old oak. Creamy vanillin spice on the nose. Light and clean in the palate with blackcurrant fruit, medium tannins and balanced acidity. Pleasant easy drinking style. 17Nov2001.

Alpha Domus The Aviator 2000 - Hawkes Bay Inky black in colour with red rather than purple hues on the rims indicating the wine has a little age, it's richly scented with berry fruit, vanillin oak, earth and a touch of barnyard on the nose. The richness carries through to the concentrated flavours in the mouth where cherry, plum and cassis fruit combine with solid leathery tannins and nicely integrated oak. As it opens up in the glass it becomes quite generous and juicy and the finish is delicious and long. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. 14% alc. $59.95. 26May2004

Ascension 'The Ascent' Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2000 Fermented in Darryl Soljan's grandfather's old wooden 650 gallon vats, this deep, dense, pink-deep red, creamy textured wine has berry aromas and rich, ripe raspberry and blackberry fruit, cherry, spice and smoke. A big finish with dense black tannins making a statement. Fruit lingers well with the lift of mint. Good cellaring potential but would drink well now with food to cut through the tannins. A blend of 45% CS, 36% merlot and 19% malbec. $30. 26Oct2001.

Babich Irongate Cabernet Merlot 2000 (Hawkes Bay) 45% Merlot and with 20 -25-% of the oak being new French. Unfined. Strongly varietal cassis aromas. A thick dense Cabernet merlot with very good structure from the ripe fruit. Long and flavoursome in the mouth with firm tannins, spicy oak, blackcurrant, plum and a flash of raspberry. Lovely balance and profile of flavours. $35 22Mar2002
A rich and warm looking full-bodied red with merlot-dominant aromas of cedar, plums and leather and just the slightest suggestion of mint. It's dry with spicy smoky oak, firm tannins, a touch of leather, boot polish and tar before succulent cassis, plums and currants emerge with a hint of marzipan. The long creamy finish is spicy, dry and savoury. A rich concentrated wine that gets better and better as you sip it. Drinking well now and a good cellaring proposition. 13% alc. $33.95. 28May2003. ****

Benfield & Delamaire 2000 A cabernet dominant blend from the Wairarapa. Baked berry-pie aromas. Loads of cinnamon and cloves dominate at first to the point where it is almost numbing. Chocolate oak emerges and sits alongside the ripe plum and cassis fruit. Lovely vinous texture, creamy, bready and very long. Very classy French oak. Smoky notes linger. 31Jul2002.

Brick Bay Pharos 2000 It's a bit old fashioned in a way - maybe I am thinking its a more traditional Bordeaux style rather than the sweet succulent new wave wines that we tend to be bombarded with these days. Or perhaps it is the high dollop of cabernet franc. It is a little meaty with creamy oak, tobacco, marmite, cassis and boysenberry becoming quite dense with chocolate and thick velvety tannins. Very much a food wine.
A few days later, tasted from the same bottle, it has more chocolate richness but now has a bright berry component that gives an excellent flavour. Methinks it just needs a bit of time in the bottle for the best characters to unfold. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Cabernet Franc (30%) and Malbec (10%) from Matakana. 15Nov2002.

Brookfields Gold Label Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2000 Just the most amazing aroma of very classy French oak on a layer of plum and blackberry. Creamy textured with firm tannins, spice, cedar and earthy black Malbec fruit appearing on the mouth filling finish. A youthful wine with the lift of acidity in the bright cedary fruit. An outstanding wine and an excellent cellaring prospect that is drinking well now. $54.95. 6May2002.

CJ Pask Gimblett Road Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000 Deep red. An oaky influence on the nose with coconut, vanilla and hints of mint. It's very smooth and creamy in the mouth with blackcurrant and plum fruit and sweet leathery tannins on the spicy finish. We tasted this in the Orewa College Swirl Sniff and Sip class and one of the students said this wine reminded him of his honeymoon in Cairo when he and his bride visited the markets with their vats of slightly fermenting cinnamon and nutmeg. $26. 30May2002.
The pick of the non-Reserve Pask wines tasted today. Lovely cedary oak, cassis, plums, good depth of flavour, lovely balance, terrific wine dark, intense and vinous. Merging onto Bordeaux territory. Delicious. Developing well. 7April2003.

Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Franc 2000 An 80/20 blend. Sweet ripe aromas with mocha and oak. Juicy fruit in the palate but an overriding menthol note. Cigar box lingers on the finish. 16.5 28Aug2001.
Lifted sweet vanillin aroma with a floral rose-like nuance. Cabernet Franc adds a lovely fragrance. Good medium weight wine with firm tannins A minty note on finish. Part of am American oak cabernet trial - about 10 different coopers used. $15. 22Oct2001.

Cornerstone Gimblett Road HB Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2000 Vibrant raspberry, blackcurrant, cherry & blackberry fruit. Dusky oak with a hint of charcoal. Full and rich with a dense earthy coal-like depth, firm rich tannins and spicy oak with a splash of creamy vanilla. Lingering fruit with oaky spice. $40. 26Apr2002

Dunleavy Waiheke Island Cabernet Merlot 2000 Oaky, quite balanced, leathery, sweet fruit, dense, good. Bordeaux characters, rural, old world leathery style. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Good nose tonight. Quite tannic but these seem to be ripe tannins that are well integrated to the oak. Dried fruit cake fruit flavours and a dark savoury meaty finish but fades quickly away. 15.5/20.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000 A rich full-bodied Bordeaux blend, med-weight pinky red in colour, tobacco, barnyard and a slight yeasty character on the nose and in the palate, dry, savoury and cedary with concentrated berry fruit that sweetens as the wine lingers on the rich, textural, savoury finish. A wine that begs for food. They suggest roast hogget with whole vine tomato jus. $70. 26Sep2003.

Hatton Estate Tahi 2000 A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. Intense blackberry red colour, youthful for its age. It lives up to its reputation with its lovely perfume of musk, edged with liquorice and backed up by creamy oak; and its concentrated flavour of blackcurrant and blackberry with beautifully integrated tannins and lingering mocha, tobacco and cigar. All in all it is a seamless, clean-edged dry wine with a sweet fruit finish. $70. 25Mar2005.

Hawkhurst Estate Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2000 Good inky colour indicative of the Hawkes Bay vintage. Emitting fairly intense plum, leather and cigar box on the nose, it's ripe and round in the palate with good fruit weight and firm tannins. There's a rich cherry and spice fruitcake flavour and some chocolate nuances develop with a bit of aeration. There's heaps of acidity in this wine. If it can hold the fruit it could develop quite well. The best I've tasted from Hawkhurst. 67% Cab Sauv. 33% Merlot. ***1/2. 12.5% alc. 25Oct2003.

Kemblefield Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Pongy nose at first (what I call the NZ red wine pong), then fruity and meaty. Redcurrant fruits that are momentarily just a little sharp and tart. Soft tannins and a long fruity spicy vanillin oak finish. It's youthful and gripping though well balanced and quite pleasurable to drink. Chocolate lingers on the finish. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Powerful nose, red fruits, cinnamon spice then the aromas of baking grapes and rich fruit cake. There's quite a range of flavours in this creamy, vanillin wine with toasty oak, fine tannins and a crisp clean but long lingering finish. No hint of sharpness or tartness at all today. This was the favourite wine of three of the four tasters, I personally found the cinnamon spiciness just a little overpowering. 17.5/20.
Lovely development to this wine. Good depth of deep red colour with just a tinge of more developed brick colour on the edges. Sweet fruit, currants, integrated vanillin oak with a warm polished note, silky tannins and a savoury, slightly earthy note, good acidity behind the wine, spice lifts the finish where ripe sweet fruit lingers with a touch of cherry and a musky floral note. Drinking nicely now with good potential for the cellar too. 13.5% alc. $34.95. 8Mar2004.

Kemblefield Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000 There's juicy fruit in this light style with flavours of plum, blackcurrant, a touch of herb and even a hint of licorice that lingers. Nice food style to accompany lamb or pizza. Just look at the price $13.95. 29Jun2002.
There's juicy fruit in this light style with flavours of plum, blackcurrant, a touch of herb and even a hint of licorice that lingers. One of the best under-$15 NZ reds available on the market. 6 Jul2002.
Garnet hued. Light style with cherry, tobacco and cigar box. Just a touch of green. Vinous texture that lingers with a touch of sweetness on finish. But ok quaffer. Smooth and easy going. $13.95 sp. Usually $16. 24Jul2002.

Kerr Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 This soft ripe easy drinking cabernet is one of the best I've tasted from Kumeu for some time. Crimson red, warm 'vanilla and spice' oak, solid cassis fruit, a hint of cabernet's tell-tale mint, soft tannins and a lifted spicy finish, this smooth mouthfilling wine really offers value for money. $21.95. 21Apr2002.

Linden Dam Block Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2000 This is a huge wine. I tasted it three days ago somewhere else and although I didn't take notes I remember the powerfully fragrant aromatics and the chocolate complexity. These characters come through again today together with ripe cherry, blackcurrant, plum and leather. Nicely rounded tannins and a full long finish. This well-structured wine has a good life ahead of it. 9Sep2002.

Matakana Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Merlot 2000 A little pongy, Old world style, tannic, tight, leather blood, meaty, tight, marmite - older, minty. Some vinosity/ Good length with nice fruit lingering. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Savoury nose, leather, old roses, interesting aromas. Dried fruits in the palate, though it is showing a little stalkiness tonight. Meaty, savoury, quite tannic, red fruits linger. Has improved with a little aeration. 16.5/20.

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 - Hawkes Bay A blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 10% Syrah, and 7% Malbec, this has a super deep dark blackberry colour too. Barnyard, yeasty, chicken poo and sweaty saddle on the nose, as the Brett blows off the rich, ripe plummy flavours come through. Purple fruits, blackberry, blackcurrant, plums, this is an intense, rich, robust and masculine wine with stacks of oomph. Long and flavoursome with creamy vanillin oak lingers on the finish. It begs a big juicy meaty beef or venison steak. $36.95. 19Mar2003.
Dense and dark in its colour. A lovely concentration of ripe fruit with creamy French oak, cigars, just a touch of mint, it has a terrific tannin structure, it's lifted by a seam of acidity, the acid in balance to the terrific structure of the wine. 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.

Matua Estate Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2000 Lifted berry, fruity, a little influence of oak but fruit dominates. Soft-med tannins. Raspberry perhaps. Slightly tarry finish. 2Aug2001

Matua Valley Matheson Estate Cabernet Merlot 2000 Intense purple-black colour. Blackberry pie aromas. Ripe, plummy, fruits. Pretty ripe and reasonably juicy. Plenty of 'yums' going around the room. Leathery, tight, firm tannins are smothered by the rich ripe blackberry, blackcurrant and plum fruit and the creamy oak backbone. Mouthfilling, well lingering, excellent.. $20. 6Feb2002.

McCashins Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Spicy cinnamon aromas and spicy in the palate too. Lifted fruit with citrus tannins. Flavoursome but seems a little non-varietal for cabernet. 16.5/20. 28Aug2001.

Mebus Dakins Road Wairarapa Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec 2000 Densely coloured, full-bodied meaty wine with juicy blackberry and dark plums on a creamy backbone with firm ripe, earthy tannins, lifted acidity and spicy oak with a hint of vanilla on the lengthy finish that has a creamy leathery connotation. A big wine, well structured. 13% alcohol. Bloody gorgeous, ripe and juicy. $28. 6Oct2001.

Mission Estate Gimblett Road Cabernet Merlot 2000 - Hawkes Bay. A densely coloured blackberry hued wine with pinky/purple rim. There's fabulously classy oak on the nose enhanced with blackcurrant fruit and vanilla spice. Still very youthful, the flavour is spicy, the tannins are silky, and the texture is creamy. This is an opulent wine with a blueberry juiciness, a black savouriness, a cedary oakiness and lingering leather plums and spice. Highest scoring New Zealand Cabernet-dominant wine in the 2002 Liquorland Top 100, it's drinking well right now. I think this is just terrific and superb value at $27.95. 22Jan2003.

Moana Park Cabernet Franc 2000 (Dartmoor Valley, Hawkes Bay). Well coloured dense pinky-red, delightfully fragrant with lifted berry fruit and smoke, soft tannins and a velvety texture.

Montana Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000 Made from a blend of New Zealand and Chilean grapes. Good colour. Soft, but tarry with rich blackcurrant and plum fruit. Tasted much better the second day when it was fruity and flavoursome. Shows good balance, soft tannins and a savoury nuance. Tasted May 1 2001

Murdoch James Cabernet Franc 2000 A medium weight red in colour with magenta hues, emitting a spicy fruit aroma and subtle oak, then sweet fragrant fruit in palate with some strawberry, raspberry and blackberry, hints of licorice and sweet leather. A lovely balance of fruit and oak in palate and a long, lifted, almost floral, vanillin finish and a hint of mocha lingering. 14.3% alc. $30. 2Oct2001.

Murdoch James Cabernets 2000 Sweet vanillin, floral and lifted berry aromas. Lovely ripe fruit with spice, chocolate and plum, a touch of leather and some warm spice with creamy vanillin nuances. 14.5% alc. $27. 2Oct2001.

Obsidian Weeping Sands Cabernet Merlot 2000 (known as 'Island Red' in 1999.) Lovely youthful ruby colour. Delicious berry fruit integrated with chocolaty oak with a stalky, smoky character on the finish. Nevertheless I quite like it with its baked plum and bread pudding flavour and smoky, dry, crisp finish. 74% CS, 26% merlot made from declassified 'Obsidian' fruit. $29.95. 12Sep2001.

Odyssey Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Smell a little 'green' at first on the nose, the later herbs, raspberry and chocolatey oak. Medium weight in the colour and light at first in the palate with lifted blackcurrant, cherry and raspberry. I like the sweet fruit on the aftertaste. Soft, with a nice touch of vanillin oak lingering on the finish. $16.95. 19Sep2001.

Odyssey Kumeu Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000 Earthy aromas, a touch of a rural character. Lifted plum and cherry with blackcurrants, solid chocolatey oak and a touch of sweet leather. Denser than the Hawkes Bay wine with firm tannins and a chewy texture. A touch of mocha-like oak lingers. $18.95. 19Sep2001.
Quite creamy and soft in the mouth and really developing well since last tasted. Lifted sweet plum and blackcurrant fruit with well-integrated chocolate mocha oak and ripe fruit tannins. $18.95. 6May2002.

Ransom 'Dark Summit' Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Rich, dark and creamy, with ripe berry aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, blackberry and warm vanillin oak lingering on the smooth red berry finish. Beautifully structured wine with firm savoury tannins. This is one of the best examples of cabernet sauvignon I have tasted from the Warkworth / Matakana wine area. $26. 26May2001.

Schubert Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 A bright and creamy fruit-driven red with spicy oak, smooth tannins, power and length. There's some lovely sultry characters in this charming red. $45. 22 Feb2003.
This has terrific extract of colour, it's a deeply coloured red, so red that it is almost black but very vibrant. Sweet dark and juicy fruit, lots of wonderfully integrated spicy meaty nutty oak, intense concentration of ripe red and blackcurrants, long and lifted with a dark juicy finish. There's a licorice complexity emerging on the finish and good acidity indicating this wine has years of life ahead of it but it is drinking so well now. A masssive wine. Immensely enjoyable. 15Apr2003.

Schubert Wairarapa Cabernet Merlot 2000 Great colour, dark red with a brilliant glow. Fruity, vinous, red fruits, quite rich and savoury, Bordeaux-like characters, sweet finish, hints of licorice, rich, intense, quite sweet and juicy, broad, nice French oak. Long finish. Very Good. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Smoky with a little menthol, alluring creamy oak and pristine red fruits. Bright, interesting, great vinosity, lovely balance of classy French oak, firm ripe tannins, tar and spice. Terrific lingering finish. Lovely texture, lovely tannins, good tannin structure. Quite yummy. 18.5/20.

St Francis Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Fruity wine of medium depth, soft and easy drinking with creamy chocolate, strawberry and plum flavours. 20Aug2002.
Nice and fruity, integrated oak, creamy rich nose, lots of oak in palate, concentrated flavours, meaty, spicy, minty, cassis, good dense wine, well integrated tannins, great finish. Sweet, ripe and juicy. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Good nose, blackcurrants, tea tannins, good fruit, spicy, smoky oak. Mocha. Holding well. Lovely berry flavours linger on the spicy finish. 17.5/20.

Stonecroft Ruhanui 2000 A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Syrah. Good colour. Wonderfully varietal cassis nose. Rich and crisp, rich and creamy flavours with the concentration of warm berry fruit and ripe integrated tannins. There's a leathery complexity and syrah-like spice emerges and lingers. Firm acidity gives an inkling of the life ahead in this wine. $30. 16 Feb2002.

Te Awa Farm Longlands Cabernet Merlot 2000 Lovely cedar, cigar box, cassis and very ripe blackberry fruit, a touch of barnyard and tar. Lovely succulent flavours. Very structured long term wine and pretty nice now too. $26. 17Jul2002.
A deep blackish red coloured wine with a savoury, iodine-like, leathery aroma that whisks me off to France. It's tannic and dusty at first, quite textural and complex with its thick masculine tannins and earthy, rural, spicy, leathery savoury flavours. It needs decanting or lots of swirling to let the blackberry and plum flavours come out over the dark tarry, winemaking influences. The finish is long, biscuity and berryish. Quite an intriguing wine but one I wouldn't want to get served in Wine Options. 12.5% alc. $16.95. 21May2003. ***

Te Mata Awatea 2000 - Hawkes Bay. (52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot) The colour is as dense as heck. At first the fragrant aromas are enhanced by oak but give the wine a good swirl and the aroma becomes more leathery. In the mouth there is first a baked plum flavour then quite hard tannins together with the leathery character of merlot dominating. There's a cigar-like smokiness and some meatiness but as the wine opens up in the glass the flavours become more fragrant with a raspberry and plum fruit spectrum on the smoky finish. It's a meal of a wine with the density of the texture. Aimed to be made in the mould of Coleraine but in a more accessible style, today I find it not as accessible as the wine it tries to imitate - it simply needs more time. 13.0% alcohol. ~NZ$37-40. 26Mar2002.

Te Mata Coleraine 2000 - Hawkes Bay. (52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc) Densely coloured with fragrant rose and cedar aromas at first but swirl the glass and some licorice complexity appears in the scent. In the mouth there's concentrated blackcurrant fruit with just the merest hint of the minty character I love to see from cabernet sauvignon. This wine has enormous layers of complexity with huge meaty oaky sweet fruit tannin and vanillin oak spice. And amazingly it is extremely accessible at this early stage of its life. It's a wine that will live for some years, that's for sure. Superb Coleraine. More please! 13.0% alcohol. ~NZ$60. 26Mar2002.
Dense and black, this is a huge wine with its firm ripe tannins very powerfully dominant. There's a cedary vinous aroma and lots of structure and body in this silky and creamy textured dense, dark wine with flavours of marmite, blackcurrant, blackberry jam, tobacco, cigar ash, tar, meat and spices with cinnamon and ginger appearing on the long, warm cedary finish. Still so young, it needs more time to let the powerful tannins integrate and the vinous complexities emerge. $63.95. 22Jan2003.

Te Mata Estate Cabernet Merlot 2000 Minty cabernet blackcurrant-like fruit. Quite juicy with good length. 6Jul2001
Quite purple in colour. Youthful with a touch of boot polish in the aroma. Dark fruited. Minty. Quite big tannins. Plenty of spice and interest. Ripe juicy fruit. Very good. 15Aug2001

Te Whare Ra Sarah Jennings Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Malbec/Cabernet Franc 2000 Lavender and spice on the nose, then blackcurrant, smoke and leather. Lifted spice in palate with a floral, rose like nuance. Blackcurrant fruit dominates in the palate with spicy tannins, meat and leather. But I feel that perhaps the tannins too big for the weight of the wine. $22. 17Oct2001.

Vidal Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000 Vanillin and blackberry. Ripe, full-flavoured, fairly opulent with smooth tannins and a clean finish. 18.5/20. 28Aug2001.
Deep red/black colour with youthful pink rims. Chocolate cassis aromas give way to redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit in the mouth, quickly joined with stewed plum. The fruit is vibrant with good acidity; tannins are medium to firm tannins and a little drying in that they slightly coat the teeth. There's a dense, oaky texture on the long fruity finish that has a touch of charcoal and a hint of mint. Good value autumn drinking. $17. 2May2002

Westbrook Blue Ridge Cabernet 2000 Sweet lifted redcurrant and black fruit, fine tannins, hints of chocolate and mint, creamy cedary oak and a ripe finish. 18.5/20. 28Aug2001.

1999 Vintage [top] [index]

Alexander Martinborough Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 90%CS, 10% Merlot. Dense wine with a touch of mint, sweet leather, strong blackcurrant fruit and a touch of spice. 17Nov2001.

Church Road Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999 Stalky, minty, tannic, raspberry, light palate weight, green, ?slightly corked, No, though it is a bit closed and leathery. Spicy finish with a hint of menthol. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Leather, black fruits, tannins, some depth and spicy oak on the finish, which is long and meaty. Seems to have far more depth today but still quite closed and tight. Minty - yes, stalky -a little, savoury, meaty, deep and dark and a little mysterious. 15.5/20.

CJ Pask Cabernet Merlot 1999 Blackberry, blackcurrant fruit with dry tannins and spicy oak. Well balanced with a nice flavour but a slightly sour finish. 17.5/20. 28Aug2001.

Delegats Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Vinous, spicy, berry fruit aromas abound with subtle or integrated oak. Lifted acidity, plum, leather, choc, orange citrus zest on the finish. 31 Jan 2000.

Goldridge Barrique Matured Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 A little developed in the colour and starting to brown. A minty, herb flower fragrance on the cedary smoky nose. Smooth ripe flavour with redcurrant and boysenberry fruit together with a choc-mint complexity. refreshing and fruity. 30Aug2001.

Glovers Moutere Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Excellent dense dark red colour - one of the deepest and darkest in the line-up. Cherry-like aromas then blackcurrant fruit and meaty oak in the palate. It's very tannic, furry tannins, and leathery with ripe fruit, blood, citrus and a long finish. There's a little sourness on the finish, though and it is perhaps a little Bretty too. The finish is long and smoky. 14Apr2003.
Next Day: Huge tannins haven't subsided. Marmite, leather, meat, blackcurrants, cooked plums. Quite a deep wine but to me right now the tannins are just overpowering. There's plenty of acidity which together with the dense tannin structure means its one that will definitely survive long cellaring.

Harrier Rise 'Monza' Kumeu Cabernet 1999 (95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot). A well-coloured wine with hints of citrus and tobacco on the nose and lovely rich ripe fruits with a smoky, almost chocolatey influence. There's wild berries too and a lifted acidity on the whole length of the wine. I quite enjoyed this wine. 12 Sep2001.

Matua Valley Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 1999 A blend of 47% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot and 13% malbec makes up this soft, fruity easy drinking little number. Attractive, perfumed aroma of cedar and berry, soft and round in the palate with sweet, ripe plummy fruit and cedary spice and lingering soft creamy berry fruit with a touch of sweet savoury and the merest hint of liquorice. 13% alc. $15. WOTW 16Jul2000.

Mt Riley Cabernet / Merlot 1999 In the glass it glows bright, with glints of purple and black, crimson and carmine, cerise and ruby - deep and richly opaque. The scents are fruity, reminiscent of boysenberry and ripe blackberry, and overlain with smoky oak. In the palate the fruits abound, blackcurrants and plums join the other fruits detected in the aroma. I also found a floral nuance - violets, perhaps. And where did that menthol, eucalypt note come from for this is not an Australian wine, it is from Marlborough at the top of the South Island in New Zealand. Perhaps there is a stand of gum trees near the vineyard. The texture is creamy and there are lots of tannins, thick and chewy yet ripe and soft. The finish is long and warm and satisfying. Under $20. WOTW 2Apr2000.

Murdoch James Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 This a well-coloured red with berry fruits and smoky vanillin oak on the nose and leather, spice, red and black fruits on the palate, some tea-like tannins but perhaps a little herbal not on the finish, then sweet leather, spice and vanillin oak linger. 13.5% alc. $22. 2Oct2001.

Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet Merlot 1999 Cab Sauv (61%), Merlot (25%), Malbec (14%) Sweet vanillin scents. Seems merlot-dominant at this youthful stage with plummy leather joined by hints of red and blackcurrants and fairly grippy tannins. Long, juicy finish. 6 Jul 2001

St Jerome Matuka 1999 Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Henderson fruit, this is dense in colour with some brick hues creeping into the black red. Funky, earthy, cedary aromas and soft and mellow flavours with well-integrated cedar, an earthy, savoury richness and little primary fruit to speak of, this concentrated wine flows across the mouth with a satisfying vinosity and liquorice on the aftertaste. The next day cassis fruit emerges, pushing its way through with violet jam and juicy black plum. Smoky cedary oak plays a supporting role with a flash of citrus on the finish, liquorice on the succulent aftertaste and hints of rose petal and musk. 13.5% alc.$38. WOTW. 17Nov2006.

Stonecroft Crofters 1V Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon '99, Syrah 2000 and Merlot 1999 pressings. Red colour of medium intensity. Creamy, dark red and black berry fruits and plums. Soft, very drinkable, with a nice touch of spice and leather lingering on the finish. Ready. $19.00. 26Feb2001.

Stonecroft Ruhanui 1999 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and the remainder is Syrah. It is deeply coloured red with vibrant spicy aromas and clean lifted fruit. In the palate there's a fine tannin structure and flavours of licorice, sweet berries, plum and blueberry. Sweet ripe almost leathery fruits (like the fruit leathers one can buy) and spice linger. $30.00. 26Feb2001.

Te Mata Awatea 1999 (Cabernet Sauvignon 56%, Merlot 36%, Cabernet Franc 8%). Quite slow to open up.but soom emmitted a delightful fragrance of plums and wild blackberries with a hint of smoke. Merlot dominant flavours of leather and plums, richly tannic with thickish tannins that are slightly dry. The potential of this wine is apparent on the finish, which is long and full of flavour and typical of Hawkes Bay wines that we've known from the past. "It lacks the concentration of the 1998 but it is a classic Hawkes Bay wine similar to the 1990" says the winemaker.
Next day: There's a floral note to the fragrance now and more of the Cabernet flavours show in the palate, redcurrant along with plum and a red licorice-richness has developed. The tannins have softened and lingering sweet berry-fruit enhanced with creamy, cedary oak remain in the mouth for ages.
Recommended for medium term aging of 5 - 7 years, I would like to cellar at least one year more. 13Mar2001.

Te Mata Coleraine 1999 (Cabernet Sauvignon 51%, Merlot 43%, Cabernet Franc 6%). Deeper hued than the Awatea and very fragrant on the nose with blackcurrant and cherry aromas along with cedar, spice and pencil shavings. In the mouth delicious flavours of ripe red currant fruit at first then a hint of leather along with plum, blackcurrant and creamy spice then a licorice note emerges on the finish. It is silky in the palate with a sound structure and fine tannins - get it all over the nooks and crannies of the mouth to appreciate its elegant complexity. It's seems so approachable in its youth but on trying the wine from the same bottle the day after and again the following day, the components had seamlessy bound into a vinous delight with the lifted fruit and the merest hint of chocolate. This is definitely going to be one of the star wines from the 1999 vintage with its lovely ripe flavour and it great length with gorgeous smoky, creamy fruit and licorice lingering. 13Mar2001.

Vidal Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999 Sweet fruit aromas. Quite lifted spicy fruit. Soft, medium weight, integrated oak, upfront medium tannins. Pruney, brambly with sweet fruit and a hint of leather. Lifted fruit and oak spice linger on the finish. 16/20 Tasted 30/10/2000

Villa Maria Private Bin Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999 A blend of Marlborough and Hawkes Bay fruit. Some sweet fruit emerging in this very drinkable entry-level wine. Good fruit structure, soft tannins, hints of chocolate and a sweet lingering finish. Very approachable, friendly wine. 17.5/20. Tasted 30/10/2000

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999 The booklet of notes says a blend of Hawkes Bay and Marlborough fruit, however the bottles says Hawkes Bay only. Wow. This is heaps better than expected. Rich, creamy fruit with a lovely hit of creamy spicy oak. Medium to soft tannins. Very ripe and approachable for a 1999, belying all the rumours that I've heard. Lovely black berries fruit and plums linger on the long, soft, creamy finish. 18/20. Tasted 30/10/2000

1998 Vintage [top] [index]

Alpha Domus AD The Aviator 1998 A blend of 38% cabernet sauvignon, 34% merlot, 14% malbec and 14% cabernet franc. Rich and densely coloured, I found the wine to have a deliciously smelling, aromatic, aroma, full of concentrated berry fruit and very appealing. A touch of mint, lifted blackcurrant-like fruit and a suggestion of a floral, violet-like character came out in the flavour. This, accompanied by layers of cream, spice and cedar complexities from the wine making process, and a superbly velvety texture with fine and ripe, although very dry, tannins make this a wine of great elegance and class. $42.50 ex winery. WOTW 9Apr2000.
This lovely example of a well-aged red is a deep dark red colour. Succulent and juicy with supple tannins, it has a sweet leathery undercurrent I associate with Merlot, concentrated plum blackcurrant & blackberry fruit, a lovely cedary infusion, some dried herb notes perhaps even a suggestion of mint yes definitely mint. The secondary flavours that have eveolved are balancing the fruit sweetness. Seems so incredibly youthful in the glass but it is a teenager already. 16Jun2011.

Brookfields Reserve Cabernet Merlot Gold Label 1998 (Hawkes Bay). A densely coloured wine with fragrant scents that emit a bowl of berry fruit and plums together with classy oak and licorice. A big wine with firm ripe tannins and plenty of life ahead of it. 18Sep2001.

Church Road Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998 (Hawkes Bay). Rich colour. When first opened the wine I got a whiff of sweaty feet, which quicly died away (but was still apparent on later pours). Fruity aromas with berry scents - rich and alcoholic with a hint of pepper. A full-bodied, rich and fruity, dry wine with smooth tannins and a touch of spice. Tasted 22/1/2000.
Vibrantly coloured. Leathery, plummy, a touch of mint and acid. Lifted in the palate. Somewhat green for a 1998 and quite disappointing. 28 Feb 2001

Goldridge Matakana Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 ($14.95) is a light fruity wine with soft berry flavours. It is a wine that definitely needs food and at this price will be perfect for a late summer BBQ. *** Feb 2001

Linden 'Dam Block' Cabernet Merlot 1998 Well coloured with cedary aroma. Good oak in the palate with well balanced blackcurrant fruit. Rich and dusky. 18/20. 28Aug2001.

Montana Tom 1998 50% Merlot, 28% CS, 22% CF. Deep black-red with crimson-ruby hues. Very deeply satisfying dark berry, savoury, slightly leathery scents enhanced by spicy cedary oak. Flavours carry through to the mouth with strong powdery tannins then 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.

Mt Riley Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon 1998. Marlborough reds usually have a herbal note but not this wine. Deep, rich, red colour. Aromas of creamy blackberry, blackcurrant and oak. Juicy, sweet and ripe in the palate with flavours of plums and a hint of mint. Lively acidity. Excellent length. A stunning wine for RRP of $NZ15.95. Tasted 18/8/99.

Nautilus Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998 ($20.95) Rich, intense, totally flavoursome, delicious wine with mocha, spice, plenty of berry fruit and a intensity to the flavour and length. Good tannins. This is just fabulous value at $20 a bottle. 18.5 7 Mar 2001
Great deep colour. Quite big tannins with leather and plums of the merlot supporting the rich blackcurrant fruit of the Cabernet sauvignon. A good example of a Marlborough red from the 1998 vintage. $29. 24Sep2001.

Nautilus Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Reserve (Riverbrook Vineyard) 1998 Deep blackberry colour with rich berries and cream on the nose. Ripe fruit, creamy oak, big firm tannins and spice. A big, big wine with heaps of potential. Great stuff. Clive Jones said this was a sensational year for Cabernet Sauvignon in Marlborough, the first time he has seen fruit like this - and also the last for the vines have now been pulled. The cabernet had extended maceration and spent 12 to 18 months in French oak of which 50% was new. $39. 24Sep2001.

Newton Cornerstone Hawkes Bay Red 1998 (barrel sample). Very, deep, opaque, richly coloured - almost black, with a dark crimson (red/purple) rim. Minty aromas at first, then chocolate, cream and spicy oak. In the palate there's ripe, ripe, jammy fruit. It's a beautifully elegant wine a superb example from the1998 vintage. 25Aug1999.

Ransom Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (Warkworth, North Auckland). Minty notes on the nose. Forward fruit, smoky oak, medium weight and some leathery notes. Lovely berry fruit - blackcurrants, blackberries and some plums. Very ripe. Good tannins - well integrated but definitely there. Chewy and juicy with a smoky finish. $17 at the winery. Tasted 19/12/99.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Helmsman Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 Almost black in colour, this is a huge wine with loads of tannins. It is so powerful and leathery with concentrated flavours of dark fruits and classy oak. For me this wine is overpowering right now and needs to be tamed. I would love to try it in 5-6 years time. It certainly has the qualities to last the distance. NZ$40. 22Jul2002.

Saints Cabernet Merlot 1998 Spicy, blackcurrant, mint and cassis. Soft, easy to drink, flavoursome with tingly, gripping, slightly drying tannins., Good length of flavour. Very good. Will be excellent with NZ Lamb garnished with mint to complement the minty note in the wine. 27/3/99 Rating: Very good.

Te Mata Awatea Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 1998 A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc. Intense deep reddy-purple, bright crimson colour. It smells very fruity with its rich blackcurrant aroma accompanied by creamy oak. In the palate there is ripe blackcurrant fruit with some ripe raspberry and plum. There are also hints of dark chocolate, coffee and spicy brambly fruit. It is just so rich and smooth with a dreamy creamy texture and chewy ripe tannins. This is just the most concentrated, beautifully built wine with an intense length and a long berry fruit finish. And in the aftertaste is a dusty, cedary almost licorice note. Is this the best Awatea that has ever been made? I certainly think so. 7Mar2000.
Intense deep red-purple, bright crimson colour, it smells very fruity with its rich blackcurrant aroma accompanied by creamy oak. In the palate there is ripe blackcurrant fruit with some ripe raspberry and plum. There are also hints of dark chocolate, coffee and spicy brambly fruit. It is just so rich and smooth with a dreamy creamy texture and chewy ripe tannins. This is just the most concentrated, beautifully built wine with an intense length and a long berry fruit finish. And in the aftertaste is a dusty, cedary almost licorice note. $29.95 ex winery. WOTW 19Mar2000.

Te Mata Coleraine Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 1998 A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. Richly coloured and a lifted, aromatic nose of sweet leather and oaky spice with currants and floral notes. In the palate, the tannins have been found. Big and rich and powerful tannins that stain the teeth and grip the mouth. Then it is all spice and an intense concentration of ripe blackcurrant fruit. The flavours really emerge on the finish with leather, spice, berry fruit and cedar and an aromatic elegance to the finish. This is a wine that reeks of quality. Approachable now, but only just, this wine is one that will still be drinking well in 15 years time if cellared well. 7Mar2000.

Te Mata Estate Cabernet Merlot 1998 Attractive, minty aromas. Concentrated fruit with pleasing berry flavours and an underpinning of oak. A touch of licorice and spice emerges. Excellent for an under $20 wine. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Terrace View Hawkes Bay Cabernet Franc 1998 A medium-weight, pinky red colour. Sweetly perfumed like a summer lawn. Lifted flavours with fruity raspberries, plum and a licorice complexity. A little earthy too. 30Aug2001. $16.

Vidal Esate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998 Soft and fruity with enough tannin to allow it to keep for a year or so, this wine is immediately appealing. Ripe blackcurrant fruit with a hint of blueberry, subtle oak and spice add to the complexity while with its excellent structure and balance, it leaves a warm mouth feel. The winey finish is long and creamy. Made from fruit from a range of Hawkes Bay vineyards and the blend in the bottle comprises 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and a smidgen of Malbec. 17Oct1999.

Vidal Reserve Cabernet Merlot 1998 Deep red, tending to black. Intense blackberry fruit aromas. In the palate it is a huge huge wine. Rich, intense, plum, blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with all sorts of complexities. Chocolate, leather and fruit really intensifies. Excellent wine 18.5/20. Tasted 30/10/2000

Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998 Simply summed up as 'soft and juicy', this exceptionally well-priced wine has berry fruit flavours that remind me of the very ripe, juicy, sweet blackberries that I used to find in the late summer on the wild bushes that grew in the Coromandel. There's a subtle undercurrent of oak and soft tannins - just enough to give the wine substance. A lingering berry fruit flavour fills out the finish. Sourced from Hawkes Bay fruit, this wine is made from a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and a tad of Cabernet Franc. The latter adds a perfumed lift to the aroma. 17Oct1999.
First bottle had a slight taint. Second bottle - as good as I remembered from trying a few weeks ago. Soft and juicy. Subtle undercurrent of oak, soft tannins, ripe blackberry and plum fruit flavours, with lingering berries on the finish. At about $15.50, this wine is excellent QPR - and at the low end of the Villa Maria range, this shows what great things this company are doing with their reds, under the direction of mega-star winemaker, Michelle Richardson. Tasted 10/11/99.

Wai-iti Nelson Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 Fading a little in colour with bricky hues developing. Hearty aromas of dark plummy fruit and French oak. Red fruits, lots of plums, red plums, quite firm tannins, a little one-dimensional in the fruit spectrum. A firm robust wine with hints of liquorice and mint. Drinking well now. Sweet fruited vanillin finish with black cherries lingering. I like it. Develops some marmite, leather and meaty characters as it evolves. 27Apr2003.

Waipipi Masterton Basket Press Cabernet Franc 1998 Well-coloured wine with lifted aromatics and slightly spicy fruit. Good flavours. 17Nov2001.

Waipipi Masterton Basket Press Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 Quite a big meaty style with dense fruit, hints of mint and licorice. Quite good. 17Nov2001.

West Brook Cabernet Merlot 1998 ($14.95) is the last wine made from grapes grown at the old Henderson vineyard before the vines were pulled to make way for housing. This light coloured wine has soft blueberry fruit flavours with some interesting savoury notes and a good tannin structure. ***1/2 Feb 2001

Older Vintages [top] [index]

Arahura Clevedon Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Nicely developed, the dominant merlot (71%) imparts a smooth plummy flavour while the cabernet sauvignon provides a powerful backbone. Well-integrated French oak from 12 months in French barrique, with a long, intense berry fruit finish. About $25.00. WOTW 30Jan2000.

Church Road Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 1995 Coffee coloured tinges in this wine. Burnt-like, chocolate, berry, leather, plumy creamy and developed savoury aromas. Quite savoury and velvety in the palate. Chunky texture of choc. The best of the two. 28 Feb 2001

Glovers Moutere Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 Dense colour with a dark centre and a ruby-garnet rim. Blackcurrant fruit with a cedary developed note and just a whiff of mint which is overtaken by licorice which becomes the dominant, yet attractive, aroma. In the palate the wine is totally fruit riven and tannins, though huge, are soft and integrated. Oak, reminiscent of cedar and pencil shavings comes forth. Licorice lingers on the finish. This wine has great concetration and structure. Hundred of years left in it! Tasted 19/12/99

Hawkhurst Estate Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Merlot 1994 There's some odd chemical, paint box, old fire smell on the nose of this older wine that has 40% Merlot in the blend. Quite dry with the cherry and raspberry fruit seemingly quite primary. A well-structured wine with firm tannins, tar, cedar and tobacco then cherry and red berry flavours lingering. Holding up well for a 1994 but has the burnt ash character I found in the 2001. 12% alc. 25Oct2003.

Murdoch James Cabernet Franc 1995 Chocolate aromas and lovely chocolate and berry flavours. A very interesting, rich wine with good tannin and structure. The wine has spent 3 years in stainless steel, 6 months in 2-year old French oak and 6 months in new American oak. Cost $25 ex winery. Murdoch James is in Martinborough on the site of what was previously known as Blue Rock Vineyard and the fruit comes from that site. Winemaker is Chris Buring. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

St Jerome Matuka Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1996 (c) Dark in colour but with some bricking apparent to the hue. A a concentrated, intense red with lovely sweet vinosity, a cakey lusciousness, vanilla, spice, cassis, plum, tar, cedar, dusty tannins and liquorice. It seems like the fruit is immensely ripe and while some mellow notes are creeping in, it is sensuous and sumptuous with brightness to the finish and seems more youthful than the maths says it is. Made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, aged in new French oak for two years then bottled and aged a further five years before release, it has matured beautifully over the subsequent eight years to deliver very satisfying sipping right now. 13.5% alc. $38 (on release). 5Jun2011.

St Jerome Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1995 Strongly perfumed aroma with sweet spice, herb flowers and a hint of tar. A rich ripe wine full of sweet boysenberry, plum and cassis-like fruit bound together with meaty tannins and warmly integrated French oak. This concentrated, full-bodied red is lovely and warming with a fabulous 'munchy' texture and excellent length that leaves a spicy vinous flavour lingering. This bottle is drinking very well tonight but evolves wonderfully as the night goes on indicating there's plenty of life ahead. The grapes for this wine come from the St Jerome vineyards in Henderson, Auckland. 17Jun2001.

Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 1991 All those people who say NZ can't produce good reds, pull your head out of the sand and taste a wine like this. You have to buy when the wine is released, then store it in a cool, dark, place with little temperature fluctuation. Let the components mingle and come together over seven or eight years, then pull out a bottle and treat yourself. It's worth the wait. This wine is as good as any red wine that I've tasted from anywhere and certainly the best NZ red by far that I have tasted for some time. It's red, lively and bright in colour. There's fruit, but its not of the fresh forward kind - there's ripe plums and there's a bread pudding flavour there too. It's got lovely balance and soft, ripe tannins with enough acid to it liven it up with a tingly finish telling your mouth it's had something to notice. It's certainly not going to fall over in the short term. Sweet black licorice coats the gums and the inner lip areas and a gorgeous floral sweetness lingers. Pure elegance. WOTW 18Apr1999.
Cedary nose and developing a lovely 'old wine' classic Bordeaux character with creamy richness, leather, berry fruit cassis & plum and soft velvety tannins. Wonderful finesse. Long and balanced with milk chocolate complexities and hints of licorice starting to emerge. Still good acidity holding the wine. Alan reckons will last for another 10 years. Attributes aging to the vineyard. This shows the rewards that can come with cellaring. 16Feb2002.

Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Cabernet 1990 It's still dense in colour, a black red with developed bricky hues, incredibly youthful looking for a wine of this age. It smells decadently appealing with wild berries, plums, well-loved leather and fragrant old roses. Velvety textured, the tannins are still there but they are mellow and integrated. There's some wonderful bright berry fruit with warm cedary, slightly spicy oak supporting it. Overall a beautifully developed wine with lovely vinosity and great persistence. 13% alc. 29Feb2004.

Stonyridge Larose Waiheke Island 1996 Cabernets Dense red black in colour with a bright ruby rim, a whiff of chocolate, a touch of mint-like herbs and rich, voluptuous blackberry fruit accompanied by a waft of oak titillate the senses. In the palate there's concentrated sweet berry fruit, a myriad of blackberries, blackcurrants and plums accompanied by chewy tannins, creamy oak and just fabulous, rich, ripe, totally luscious flavours - it's got everything. Bordeaux-like in its structure and complexity, this is a totally fabulous wine. A blend of the classic Bordeaux varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. At $99.00 retail, this is NZ's most expensive wine and although others are desperately trying to compete, none has the class and long-lived reputation of Stonyridge. WOTW 26Dec1999.

Stonyridge Larose 1993 Waiheke Island Cabernet dominant blend. Sensational. Sweet, succulent, juicy. Ripe Cabernet dominant fruit with classy French oak and hints of licorice on the finish. Colour is still very dense and black in the centre with the colour of almandine garnets on the rims. As you sip the wine the chocolate vinosity just allures. Ghis is simply a terrific wine, a pleasure to taste, a youthful Bordeaux look-a-like. When you taste a wine like this almost 10 years on from vintage, you realise why the hype is there. Jackie's wine tasted at Johns. 29 Dec 2002.

Te Mata Coleraine 1996 Ripe, blackberry fruit aroma with jammy hints. At first, hints of tomato, later quite Bordeaux-like. Medium to high tannins, lots of ripe berry fruit flavours with hints of spice and excellent persistence. Tasted Dec 1998.

Te Mata Awatea 1983: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Carefully cellared for many years, laying on its side in a cool dark place. Still hints of purple - an amazingly youthful appearance for a wine of 15 years. Black currants and cedar flavours and aromas predominate and a lingering flavour of blackcurrant jam on toast. Te Mata wines are made to last. People who buy them at auction and say the wines have prematurely aged have obviously bought wines that have not been cellared well. The only fault that I found with the 1983 Awatea was that there was not enough of it. Tasted April 1998. *****

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999 Rich creamy fruit with a lovely hit of creamy, spicy oak. Medium to soft tannins. Very ripe and approachable. $20. May2001.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Merlot 1997 Developing fruit characters reminiscent of blackcurrant and plums with cedar tones, hints of mocha, spice and leathery notes. Doesn't turn me on like the '98's. 16.5/20. Tasted 30/10/2000

Villa Maria Private Bin Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 1997 This wine has a fabulous inviting floral, ripe berry, creamy aroma. In the palate it is very clean. The flavours are black berry and black cherry but has some stalky hints. It is a soft approachable style, light bodied and finishes short. An excellent quaffer. *** Sep1998.

Villa Maria Villa Maria Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1996 This wine is a blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 10% malbec and 5% cabernet franc and has spent 18months maturing in a combination of French and American oak. The lovely blackcurrant aromas flow through to the palate with spicy oak, soft ripe tannins and gorgeous length of fruit driven flavours. **** Sep1998.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Merlot 1996 (Magnum) Lovely developed cedary aromas with a gorgeous winey smell and a kind of 'old orange' fragrance too. Beautiful development in the palate - there's mocha and chocolate, lifted plummy red fruits, a long smooth creamy texture, smooth integrated tannins and smoky oak with just a hint of mint coming through on the finish. It shows that well-made NZ red wines can age. Tasted from a magnum, it is possibly the ultimate red for that big dinner party. $95 Magnum. 12Aug2005.

Waipara Downs Cabernet Sauvignon 1991: From Waiapara, north of Christchurch in the South Island. Youthful red cherry-like colour and an floral aroma of roses. Lovely elegance of fruit in the palate. Good drinking now. ****

[More recent vintages] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [older] [index]

Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Riesling
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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