'Last stop, the historic Te Mata. Historic is not an exaggeration is the oldest viticultural reality in the country, on a government-protected area with vineyards over 130 years old, set up on the hills. the cultivation is organic, favoured by sun exposure in dry soils. in total, 30 thousand cases (of 12 bottles) that reach 45 countries "with all the problems of such a fragmentation," explains chief executive and co-counsel Nick Buck.
Te Mata was the first company to sell wine when the others were just doing it for the mass. "In our model," he says, "we don't plan on having restaurants and resorts. We want focus on the product." Also here, mini fermentations are the norm, to choose between different ingredients and give complexity to the wine. Labels like Syrah Bullnose Traingle, below Gimblett and cooler), and the Bordeaux style Awatea and Coleraine (from Havelock Hills, clay and sand) are stunning, dense, elegant.'
- Alessandro Torcoli, February 2020 Civilta del bere
Join us this Thursday at 5pm. Zara will be talking about her wine! Zara Viognier '18. IGTV @temataestatewinery
See the 2020 Vintage and meet winemaker Phil and CEO Nick Buck in the latest episode of The Cellar Door. Screened in Australia last week. (Thanks Georgie and Shane for organising.) First wine of 2020 out now at www.temata.co.nz.
One thing’s for sure … 2020 will go down in all our record books as one to remember – perhaps THE one, for many.
And while unfortunately 2020 will be associated with plenty of bad news, hopefully there’s good news to come also.
In fact, the good news has already arrived for Hawke’s Bay winemakers.
A recent press release from the HB Winegrowers Association announced:
“The start of a new decade in Hawke’s Bay brings momentous promise this vintage … With a hot and dry season, the entire region basked in optimum sunshine hours this summer, from the inland alluvial plains all the way to the coast, blessing Hawke’s Bay’s winemakers with pristine-condition fruit.”
Julian Grounds, Chief Winemaker at Craggy Range Vineyards, commented: “In your winemaking lifetime, the law of averages very rarely gives you two iconic vintages back to back. But that is what they will write of 2019 and 2020.”
BayBuzz asked Nick Buck, chief executive of Te Mata Estate, a perennial producer of some of HB’s best, what all the fuss is about.
Says Nick: “’18, ’19, and ’20 have been amazing. We thought ’19 was amongst the best vintages we’ve seen, then along came ’20, and we’re blown away by the quality. The ‘20s are the most concentrated wines we’ve seen in the 46 years my family’s run Te Mata. It’s hard to pick a stand out variety as the quality is so strong across the board.”
Locally, online sales have held up for Te Mata Estate during the Covid window. “Te Mata always has strong direct sales as a lot of people prefer to deal directly for their fine wines. But, we’ve seen a huge upswing over the lockdown period. It’s been fantastic to see all the local support, and we’ve been thrilled to be able respond to that, getting great wine direct to people’s homes and businesses. My brother Toby’s doing a lot of the Hawke’s Bay deliveries and enjoying the chance to help people out.”
Te Mata Estate has always done well overseas, especially in Australia, the UK and China, and we asked about that. Nick commented:
“The quality from the spectacular run of great vintages — ’18, ’19 and now ’20 — means that we’ve got the best wines we’ve ever made to take to market. NZ wine exports have remained very strong through lockdown, but we’re seeing marked buying shifts with booming retail alongside very suppressed hospitality. It’s impossible to say how deep and long these effects will be.”
So, challenges, yes. But it sounds like quality will prevail. Great news from HB wine country … hopefully the first of many good reasons to raise a glass to 2020!
Thanks to Jillian Lee for her footage of the Gamay Noir that appears in this clip.
Philip Gregan of NZ Winegrowers commented that the exceptionally dry summer was tough on farmers but 'tailor-made' for great wine.
Each Friday during May 2020 we will be hosting InstagramLive tastings at 5pm. They will be held in different parts of the winery with winemakers and family members and start with the most releases. You can watch @temataestatewinery on Instagram or send questions ahead to email@example.com. All wines discussed are currently available online.
We were off to an early start this year after a dry and hot summer. The chardonnay fruit has come in looking spectacular and now gamay noir and pinot noir were right behind that. (Ripe gamay fruit in the pic above.) We couldn't be happier with the quality. This is some of the best grapes we've ever seen.
Pickers seems happy. Cellar team seems happy. Fingers crossed - it's looking like a good one! And all just in as lock-down started. A lot to be thankful for this year.
A single Coleraine bottle from 1982 sold for $760 at auction this week. The highest price we've seen for a Coleraine yet. The Webb's Auction topped last years record of $650.
Coleraine '82 was $12.50NZD on release.
'Te Mata Estate’s Coleraine is a New Zealand national treasure. Since its first vintage in 1982, Coleraine has been a benchmark for Cabernet-centric reds made in New Zealand, with a remarkable track record for high quality and age-worthiness. Consistency of quality and style – silky textures, savory-and-sweet fruit balance, and lively acidity – have been the hallmarks since day one.
Te Mata Coleraine is an ever-evolving wine, as its vineyards mature and small refinements are made to winemaking. Phil Brodie and the Buck family are tasked with keeping this legendary New Zealand wine estate on track and there is no reason that they won’t.’
Concentrated purple fruit, violet aromas, accenting chocolate notes and crunchy acidity that promises a long life in the cellar. Fine tannins and lengthy finish.
Just might be the perfect Coleraine, with inviting floral aromas, wellripened red and black fruit, great concentration and nervy acidity. The tannins are firm yet mature, the youthful presentation bold and rich. I would happily revisit Te Mata to taste this wine in 2023.
From its saturated purple colour to its dense black fruit palate and aromas, this is a wine to put away for a decade or more. Quite tannic and reserved now. It promises great things in the future.
Established at Te Mata Estate in 1994, the New Zealand Poet Laureate position recognises New Zealand poets and supports their role in taking our culture to the world.
Out thanks to Selina Tusitala March for her amazing work, and congratulations to David Egglestone who has recently taken up the role.
David's inauguration will be held at Matahiwi Marae in Hawke's Bay in April 2020.
Congratulations to everyone involved. We sold our Syrah blend The Patron's Lot for 6K and our 2018 Cabernet Celebration for 9K - the two highest earning lots in this year's event.
A record total was acheived in 2019 for Cranford Hospice due to the great organisation and team, plus all the many generous bidders! Thanks to all!
First planted in 1999, Te Mata’s twenty-year pinot noir vision comes to fruition with the 1 July global release of Te Mata Estate Alma Pinot Noir.
This ambitious multi-decade project reflects Te Mata Estate’s dedication to the highest standards of New Zealand fine wine. These are the first new Te Mata Estate wines released this century from the premium producer of New Zealand reds and capture Te Mata’s exacting standards of excellence, quality and finesse.
This is pinot noir that speaks of its mature, low-cropped origins, a blend of four clones, grown on inland, elevated, river terraces, hand-harvested, with every step of production under the direct control of Te Mata Estate’s Philip Brodie.
Midnight-dark with a deep crimson edge, Alma ’18 is a triumph of aromatic wild strawberry, black cherry, currants, marzipan, sage and sandalwood. The palate’s ripe, sustained, structure reveals a parade of spice and brooding, soft, dark, berry fruits and rich savoury tannins – set to unfurl with time. Cherry, black plum, cinnamon and smoke, all glide across a palate which is wonderfully deep-set.
Finely-dressed for its debut, the premiere release of Alma ’18 is modern, majestic, and enchanting in its detail.
The introduction of Alma ’18 is accompanied by Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir ’18.
Alma Pinot Noir ’18 and Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir ’18 is strictly allocated across all markets and will be available in 750ml bottles. Alma Pinot Noir is priced at $59.90RRP and Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir ’18 at $29.90RRP.
THE BATTLE OF ALMA
Alma celebrates Dr James Thomson, a hero of the 1854 Battle of the Alma during the Crimean War and forefather to Te Mata Estate’s Buck family. Knowing the vanquished enemy soldiers had already contracted cholera, Dr Thomson volunteered to tend to their wounds, saving the lives of over four hundred, and sacrificing his own in the process. His act of selfless humanity remains worthy of the highest possible praise. It is commemorated by a monument in the Scottish Highlands near his home, and by the medal he was awarded for his valour. That medal appears on the label of Alma Pinot Noir.
Te Mata Estate pioneered Hawke’s Bay pinot noir in the 1890s, producing a small amount for the winery’s first vintage in 1896.
The vineyards were in the Havelock Hills, and the grapes hand-harvested and vinified in the same buildings we use today – the oldest operating winery in New Zealand. The quality of the first pinots immediately drew recognition, selling quickly and capturing the attention of international wine writer Romeo Bragato.
‘Mr Chambers, of Te Mata, has a small vineyard of Pinots and a quarter-acre of Black Hamburghs, which are doing well. Here I tasted some beautiful wine…’
Romeo Bragato, Report on the Prospects of Viticulture in New Zealand
‘At the end of a busy first day, one vat was filled with pinot, another with the first of the claret.’
Bernard Chambers Daybook-Diary 1896
After much consideration, a twenty-year project was established in 1999 at an elevated, inland site specially chosen by the Te Mata Estate winemaking team. Having worked in Burgundy for Domaine F & L Saier, the owners of Domaine Saier in Mercurey and Clos des Lambrays in Morey-Saint-Denis, winemaker Philip Brodie oversaw development. Small production wines have been periodically released to favourable critical attention. Again their quality was immediately recognized, in the US by the Wall Street Journal and in the UK
by Jancis Robinson.
Te Mata Estate’s commitment meant that long-term research and development could continue being undertaken to create even greater depth and finesse in these wines. In 2019, we are excited to release the culmination of a story that, like the estate itself, has been 125 years in the making.
2019 was a warm, dry, easy grape-growing season that has produced some of our most exciting results yet.
Budbreak, flowering and veraison (colour change) were all early. December was warm, and January very warm, with 10 days around or just over 30 degrees.
Good early soil moisture and warm temperatures created big grape canopies and great ripeness. Warm nights lead to very few dews or fogs, contributing to the luxury of this fairly relaxed harvest. Dry, settled weather enabled all blocks of grapes to be picked at ideal ripeness in a far more leisurely fashion than usual.
Sauvignon blanc and chardonnay were picked between 14 and 22 March, well ripened and in superb condition. The young wines exhibit ripe stone fruit and citrus aromas and flavours and impressive palate weight.
Soils continued to dry giving the vital stress conditions necessary to maximise colour, flavour and tannin concentration in the reds. These were picked almost every day from the 25 March until finishing on the 14 April. They already show excellent flavour, great colour and tannin.
2019 is a very good vintage. We’re excited to get these out. Time will tell, but this could be one of our best.
When Te Mata Estate - where the first wines flowed in 1895 - unveiled several of it's 2017 whites and 2018 reds I was looking for the signs of challenging vintages. the good news is that the 2018s look delicious young and the Coleraine '17 is as classy as ever.'
COLERAINE '17 - FIVE STARS
Since the debut 1982 vintage, Coleraine has stood out for its fragrance, complexity and subtlety.This is a full-coloured, mouth-filling red with notably concentrated, well ripened blackcurrant, plum and spice flavours, braced by firm tannins, and impressive harmony.
'The auction of a unique collection of Te Mata Coleraine not only made a stir within the wine media, it also made the record books.
The result, which saw the 32-vintage collection of Coleraine fetch $19,000, left Te Mata Estate's sales and marketing manager Toby Buck smiling.
The news raced across the winemaking and wine media landscape with Fine & Rare Wines specialist Marcus Atkinson noting that the result had effectively made it two records in a row for Te Mata Estate. In 2016 a Coleraine vertical collection went for $6,500 under the hammer at an auction in Auckland. It equated to $195 a bottle and became the largest single wine collection and overall auction price for any New Zealand wine.
"Until now," he said.
"At almost $600 a bottle this is the highest auction price achieved for any collection of New Zealand wine," he said of the recent auction staged in Napier as a build-up to the Hawke's Bay Wine Auction next month.
The result came as no surprise for many wine writers, including several from across the Tasman. Huon Hooke of Australia's The Real Review described Coleraine as 'a great wine from the very first vintage'. Andrew Graham of The Australian Wine Review said Coleraine possessed a reputation for unwavering consistency. 'Please world, make every vertical like this.'
Earlier this month The Australian featured a profile of Te Mata Estate and described its Coleraine as 'a beautifully elegant expression of Hawke's Bay that has cemented its reputation as one of New Zealand's finest wines'.
Coleraine connoisseurs and devotees have only a little over four months to wait for the next addition to the globally-lauded line.'
'Some would say that Te Mata’s Coleraine was the first true iconic wine of New Zealand. The first vintage of Coleraine caused a stir when it came in 1982 but it wasn’t without a precedent. Te Mata Estate had already been making well-respected wines for many years before and the estate, whose first vintage was in 1896, is in fact the oldest winemaking property in New Zealand. It is partly due to Te Mata’s long history and experience that Coleraine was celebrated quite early on as one of New Zealand’s finest wines. But also because Coleraine hit the nail on the head in terms of combining grape variety with terroir and proved that Hawke’s Bay, and indeed New Zealand, was capable of making world class red blends.
Te Mata Estate has many different soil profiles and mesoclimates in their vineyards. Varying degrees of alluvial gravels, silts and sand make up the vineyard soils and parcels each have different exposures, slopes (or plains) and mesoclimates. This, in combination with the different grape varieties, is what the family believes gives them an advantage in making red blends. “The absolute strength of Bordeaux blends is in different varieties and different soils, and that’s where we started,” explains Toby Buck, the second generation of the family to run Te Mata Estate. “But it is also really about the people that put these wines together, who made them what they are.”
'Coleraine is one of the few NZ wines that I have multiple bottles of in the cellar. A wine that is every bit New Zealand’s ‘First Growth’, with a history that dates all the way back to 1896 and a reputation for unwavering consistency.
Named after the original vineyard planted to the same proportions as Chateau Margaux, Coleraine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Before 1989 it was a single vineyard wine, after that a blend of grapes from across the Te Mata Estate vineyards.
For this vertical, the wines were all either purchased at auction (with some bottles topped up if necessary) or from the wine program cellars and checked before the tasting at Te Mata Estate. That attention to detail meant that there were no bad wines in this vertical. Just glory. Please world, make every vertical like this.
Notes are as written on the day and we went through the wines v. quickly so they’re pretty rough impressions. Still, there is no disguising the pleasure of so many of the wines here. Hawke’s Bay goes to Bordeaux indeed.
Personally, I prefer the moderate years, the best wines are so varietal yet they’re ripe and layered too. Sometimes large verticals are a chore and you find yourself stuck in a trough when winemaking fashions change. But this collection was punctuated with pleasurable wines so regularly that it was a joy.'
Less ripeness, more coiled power. Reminds of the composure of the ’14. Bound up in oak but the kicker is the acid feels natural. More elegance and a real perfect smoothness here. Really generous in its round appeal and seamless tannins. Very fine. One of the best.
This month Air New Zealand showed two vertical collections of Te Mata Estate wines at exclusive events in Australia. The first was a twenty-five year vertical of Bullnose Syrah in Melbourne, the second a thirty-five year Coleraine vertical served at Rockpool in Sydney. Promoted as 'one of the most historic tastings of two of New Zealand’s greatest wines' this was a rare, and invite-only, chance to taste collections seldom seen on the international market.
A perrenial part of the Fine Wines of New Zealand, Bullnose and Coleraine have both been selected by a panel of judges since the programme began. A vertical of Coleraine was prevsiouly used to benchmark the inital judging of New Zealand's finest wines.
Comments by Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh from The Wine Front on specific vintages have already been uploaded to the reviews and wine sections of this site. All new review material will be linked to here shortly.
'Take for example Te Mata Estate Coleraine – this highly collectable red is snapped up every year it is released.'
Want to age that bottle, but don’t know how to store it? Or for how long? This month in Kia Ora Magazine, Bob Campbell MW writes about ageing New Zealand reds and tasting an older Coleraine:
'Anyone who has held on to a special wine for a long time faces the dilemma of when to open it. I was asked about this by a friend who had stored a magnum of Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2000 since he bought it 16 years ago. It is a robust blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.
My heart sank slightly when he told me he’d stored it in the garage. “It’s quite cool,” he added. Variable storage temperatures cause wines to leak past the cork allowing air to enter the bottle. You can get an idea of how well an old wine has been stored by standing the bottle upright and looking at the gap between the cork and wine level. If the gap is less than 10mm there’s every chance it will be fine. As the level drops so do your chance of tasting good wine.
Corks vary considerably too and, as a result, so does the wine in each bottle. There was a possibility poor storage or a dodgy cork had allowed by friend’s Coleraine to spoil. I suggested the wine be opened and enjoyed as soon as possible. We set a date for dinner.
There was an air of anticipation among the dinner guests. We could be tasting a great wine, but we might be sipping vinegar. The wine level was perfect, raising hopes. A crumbly cork had our host worried, but the cork chips were easily removed with a tea strainer.
The wine was better than I’d dared to expect. Age had given it a silken texture. It was a peacock’s tail of flavours – delicate berry and floral characters with oriental spices, cigar box, old leather and a hint of nutty oak.
Te Mata Estate was proud to serve our wines at an exclusive dinner for former US President Barack Obama. Te Mata's CEO Nick Buck attended the event, where Bullnose Syrah and Elston Chardonnay were poured. The wines were among a small group chosen for the event, selected to promote New Zealand's finest - run by event co-organisers Air New Zealand.
"It's a great endorsement for New Zealand wine as a whole but Hawke's Bay in particular, and the wonderful wines we grow in this region. When people select the very best of New Zealand wine, so often they end up coming to Hawke's Bay. I think he's come to represent an America that was very outward looking and inclusive, and extremely diplomatic in its world standing. He did tremendous thing for global trade, global peace and prosperity."
The dinner's MC is poet laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh, an award Te Mata Estate established in 1997.
'In a role established by Te Mata Estate winery, New Zealand's latest Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh has accepted her new post with – what else? – a poem.
The prestigious two-year post was announced in a surprise ceremony on Friday night at the tail end of the launch of her new poetry collection, Tightrope. Tusitala Marsh gave a nod to her mother, who came to New Zealand from Samoa speaking no English, as well as the recent controversy regarding Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's pregnancy plans.
"I accept this award on behalf of Pasifika peoples/whose brown faces/aspire to higher places," she said.
Earlier, Tusitala Marsh – an academic and strong advocate for Pasifika poetry and literature – said the role of Laureate was "breath-giving". She wrote her first poem – about nuclear fallout – at the age of 12. It was published in Grapevine magazine. "I remember walking through Avondale and someone came up to me and said, 'I loved your poem'," she said.
Marsh wrote and performed a poem for the Queen at the Commonwealth Day Observance last year. "At 12 I thought, this was an amazing way to share your thoughts with the world." Tusitala Marsh is now an associate professor and lectures at the University of Auckland, specialising in Māori and Pacific Literary Studies and Creative Writing.
She described poetry as "the power of articulation. It's the power to be able to embody language and connect with other people." The Waiheke Island-based poet published her first collection, Fast Talking PI, in 2009. In 2010 she won both the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry, and Best First Book at the New Zealand Book Awards.
Each laureate receives $80,000 over two years from the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa to create new work and promote poetry throughout the country. Tusitala Marsh says while she would not do anything "remarkably" different, the award would allow her to take poetry to "some pretty impressive spaces".
"I talk about 'unpoeted' spaces, where it doesn't usually have a space or is heard or made," she said.
She was also given a carved tokotoko, or orator's stick, symbolising her authority and status. Tusitala Marsh said the post was a "wonderful opportunity to extend the poetic page and stage to this nation's multi-coloured, multi-hued voices. "To be recognised in this way is breath-taking. To occupy the role is breath-giving – I can't wait to take the Laureate's tokotoko to the people and make poetry."
New Zealand's first poet Laureate was Bill Manhire in 1996 and the outgoing Laureate for 2015-17 is C.K Stead.'
Coleraine ’98 has been named a ‘Wine Legend’ in the August Issue of UK's top wine magazine Decanter, placing it amongst other wines more than ten times its price.
Garnering immediate international praise, Coleraine ’98 was available for $75 at release and today sells for more than $250. Previous Decanter Wine Legends include Domaine de la Romanée-Conti ’78 ($6,500), Château Haut-Brion ’29 ($3,500), Château Lafite-Rothschild ’59 ($3,300) and Ridge Monte Bello ’70 ($1,200).
Describing Coleraine as ‘the most avidly collected of New Zealand red wines’, Decanter’s piece has already prompted feedback to the winery from Coleraine fans worldwide. (See attached.) Te Mata Estate’s Nick Buck commented:
“This is lovely recognition for Coleraine and for Coleraine collectors everywhere. I’m sure they’ll love knowing they’ve got such great wine in their cellar. Of even greater importance to us is the connection that it gives them, back to the unique people and place that produces such an outstanding wine.”
In 2016, Decanter’s Master of Wine Andy Howard described Te Mata Estate as ‘New Zealand’s First Growth’, putting the winery on par with the world’s top French wine producers:
‘Many critics consider Coleraine up there with the best Bordeaux blends in the world. The original intention may have been to mirror the top Cru Classé but, today, Coleraine has evolved its own style.’
Te Mata Coleraine ’13, ’14 and ’15 have all sold out from the winery within weeks of their release. Te Mata’s Coleraine, as well as its Bullnose Syrah, were both listed in the TOP 50 WINES OF THE WORLD by US wine critic James Suckling. Demand for recent vintages has soared.
Coleraine ’16 - marking 120 years of winemaking at Te Mata Estate - is available on 1 March 2018.
'Te Mata Coleraine from Hawke’s Bay is in my opinion New Zealand’s greatest red wine. It is a tribute to the foresight of John Buck and his partners in creating the wine, and to the superlative work of winemaker Peter Cowley and the viticultural team led by Larry Morgan who have provided a wine that is internationally recognised as one of the very best from the country for over three decades. There are other wines that come close; in the Bordeaux-style, Stonyridge ‘Larose’ is a contender, but doesn’t quite have the length of time of production, or the amount of wine made. There are some superb Pinot Noirs, but that is like comparing apples with oranges, and again, the length of track record of the top wines, Ata Rangi and Felton Pinot Noir does not measure up. Objectively one must say Coleraine is a stand-out.
I’ve been a follower of Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ from the beginning, purchasing most vintages, including the pre-cursor Te Mata Cabernet Sauvignon 1981 (but I missed out on the first 1980). I slowed down my buying of ‘Coleraine’ once I joined the wine trade, but have always been interested in the developments and evolution, participating and in fact organising promotional events at the retail outlets I was working at, in conjunction with Te Mata and their distributors. It allowed an intimacy with the wine, the Buck family (John, Wendy, Nick and Toby Buck) and the Te Mata team few have enjoyed. I worked vintage at Te Mata Estate for the 1991 vintage with the indominatable José Hernandez, my boss at the time. And I’ve been lucky to be involved in various vertical tastings of ‘Coleraine’, in particular the 25th Anniversary Tasting held in Napier on 3 May 2008, where 250 guests and 25 staff tasted the wines from the inaugural 1982 to the then current release 2006. Both my partner Sue Davies and I were pleased to help in a small way with the logistics of preparing the wines and pouring them....'
Te Mata Estate is pleased to announce Coleraine and Bullnose Syrah as two of the first picks for Air New Zealand’s new ‘Fine Wines of New Zealand’ programme.
Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts, on behalf of Air New Zealand, have named their official ‘Fine Wines of New Zealand’; a list of the country’s most prestigious fine wines that will lead the airline’s upcoming global promotion of New Zealand wine and wine regions.
One of the key criteria for the list was consistency, with a chosen wine having to show an exceptional standard over a minimum of five consecutive years. As part of their 2016 tasting, Air New Zealand bought a thirty-year consecutive vertical of Te Mata Estate’s Coleraine at auction. This Coleraine vertical was tasted with their panel to benchmark both the quality of fine New Zealand wine and its ability to evolve and develop over time.
Nick Buck, Te Mata Estate CEO commented:
“Te Mata’s Coleraine and Bullnose continue to be recognized at the forefront of New Zealand wine, and we look forward to partnering with Air New Zealand in taking New Zealand’s greatest wines to the world.”
The ‘Fine Wines of New Zealand’ selection will start to feature in Air New Zealand Business Premier cabins from September.
- John Buck, Te Mata Estate Chairman'With the release of the ’13 vintage virtually complete, and the ‘14s just commencing, Hawke’s Bay has wine generated new levels of respect from critics and consumers worldwide.
There’s almost a ‘gee, this region really does cut it’ feeling emerging as people sense they are discovering something for the first time.
Peter Cowley and I were casually chatting about this new, but consistent, commentary the other day, and we got onto attempting to quantify the reasons it is so. And while the reasons to us were self-evident, it did occur to us that to most they were not; and those same reasons in totality describe a very unique region which possesses natural advantages that would be envied by winemakers elsewhere.
In defence of the critics and consumers, it has to be said that Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand has come relatively late to the correct planting material and knowledge of local variations in site and aspect to fully exploit the region’s potential, but that has happened and the resultant wines are now winning friends.
Hawke’s Bay has predominately alluvial soils; terraces created by retreating rivers and glaciers and a plain formed by soil and stones carried toward the Pacific Ocean by its three main rivers, that come from different directions but meet the sea only four kilometres apart. As New Zealand is mountainous, they fall quickly and turbulently.
The north facing slopes contain soils with ash high in silica, potassium and sodium from the eruptions that formed Lake Taupo 26,500 years ago, in the world’s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years. Seismic forces have created ridges and contours and undulating pockets. So, the landform is without parallel but has something a bit in common with Washington State; not Bordeaux, not Burgundy, not Coonawarra, but uniquely Hawke’s Bay.
One factor, that is not generally known, is that the ultra violet light levels are very high; some claim the highest in the world. Together with the general breeziness of New Zealand, we have two natural elements that keep our grapes at naturally diminished levels of rot and mould, so minimising the need to use sprays.
Hawke’s Bay lies on the East Coast of the North Island at the same latitude south as Valencia or Northern Sonoma are north – 39 degrees – and has the advantage of being in the lee of the prevailing west-to-east wind flows that characterise New Zealand and which ensure the east is relatively drier than the west. While degree-day accumulation, rainfall and the like are measures of climate, a further feature of Hawke’s Bay is its highly varied topography that ensures that it is the specific grape growing sites that matter, rather than a bland, one‑size‑fits all approach; again a natural advantage of the best grape growing regions where pockets, slopes, aspects, water permeability and so on all come into play. It is this feature that enables Hawke’s Bay to grow such a range of varieties and to vinify them in different styles.
The growing season is also characterised by warm summers tempered by proximity to the Pacific Ocean and crisp, clear, short winters, so that budburst is early in the season and there is ample ability to hang fruit until late, so that maximum flavour development is possible, without the need to add sugar, or to add or subtract from the acid levels that ensure the ability of Hawke’s Bay wines to develop in the bottle.
The region sits over an underground aquifer that is re-charged by snow melt. Water takes 20 years to flow across it. In addition, there is no prescriptive regime for vineyard practices such as AOC in France. Therefore the choice of variety is down to the vineyard owner, as is the use of one of the best tools in maintaining grape quality - that of deficit irrigation which ensures balanced ripening and managed stress through until final harvest.
Almost all of the region’s vineyards and wineries are sustainably accredited - an official accreditation subject to annual audit that ensures best practice is followed in all facets of grape growing and winemaking with separate vineyards and individual wineries each requiring their own certification. In addition, the major territorial authority in the grape growing areas, the Hastings District Council, is officially GE free, ie genetically engineered crops are not permitted within its boundaries, so giving further reassurance to consumers as to the integrity of the land-based product of the district. In our chats, Peter and I concluded that no other grape growing region ticked all the boxes the way Hawke’s Bay does. Between us we are familiar with most of them and can research those we don’t know. And all these natural qualities give rise to the style of wines that Hawke’s Bay is gaining international renown for; wines with bright, ripe, fresh fruit flavours and aromas, reds with great colour and delicious fine tannin, and styles that, along with all the great classics, improve markedly when cellared.
We think Hawke’s Bay can fairly demonstrate that, using modern criteria, it is the best naturally equipped region in the world in which to grow quality grapes.
Hawke’s Bay wines are getting better; the rate of improvement is quite remarkable and is faster than in more traditional areas.'
- 23/03/2016 DOWNLOAD AS A PDF
For each vintage Te Mata Estate makes available a small selection of Coleraine in bespoke bottles. Prices are available on request but stocks are very limited. If you’re thinking of a unique gift for a very special occasion we recommend confirming availability as early as possible.
Shipping is $9 within the North Island and $12 to the South, fully insured. An order will take us two days to wax seal and hand label. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The Coleraine latest release, from the sensational 2013 vintage, has been lauded as the best ever by the world’s top critics.
New Zealand’s Sam Kim of WineOrbit.com, described Coleraine ’13 as ‘Perfection’ awarding it the maximum 100 Points. Masters of Wine Rebecca Gibb and Bob Campbell both declared Coleraine among their ‘Top Wines of 2015’. In naming Coleraine his favourite 2015 wine (in UK magazine Decanter), Bob Campbell said:
‘When Coleraine was first made in 1982, it was light years ahead of any New Zealand red wine produced before that date. It has since become the country’s most iconic wine label.’
International wine critics have followed suit. Nick Stock, writing for JamesSuckling.com USA, praised Coleraine ’13 in his global ‘Top 100 Wines of 2015’. And, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW – editor for RobertParker.com – also named Coleraine ’13 in her three ‘Best New Zealand Wines of 2015’. No wonder Coleraine ‘13 sold out from the winery in just ten days.
In 1996 the significance and viticultural heritage of Te Mata Estate and its vineyards was officially recognized in a unique piece of New Zealand legislation. The 'Te Mata Special Character Zone' was formed to commemorate the 'special ambience, wine making history and micro-climate' of the area. This certification recognized our vineyards - established in the nineteenth century - and their heritage value, as New Zealand's first wine appellation.
It was due to the efforts of the Chamber's, Buck, Morris and Cowley families, that the potential of this land will noe be protected and preserved for future generations.
At the end of 2015 Coleraine house, the Buck family home, was awarded the 'Enduring Architecture Award' by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. John and Tobias Buck attended the event with Claire and Zac Athfield. John's speech acknowledged Wendy Buck and Claire Athfield - the two women who inspired himself and Ath, and who contrubuted so greatly to the their lives and family homes. The full NZIA award citation appears below:
'Icon is an overused design word, but there really are few more iconic sights in New Zealand architecture than Coleraine (formerly Buck) House sitting bright white among rows of vines on the slopes of Te Mata Peak. The building is one of the best works of the late Sir Ian Athfield, and thirty-five years after its construction it retains all of its charms. It’s such a famous form that one tends to forget that it has an interior life; for two generations the house has served its owners as a much-loved family home. What does it reference? Colonial farm cottages, the plaster houses of the Mediterranean, its own Athfield antecedents. But whatever it suggests, the house declares its absolute comfort with its situation. Valued and cared for, it stands as a testament to a great architectural talent.'
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'In an ideal world I'd be on constant live chat to my broker at Berry Bros & Rudd plotting what en premier Bordeaux I'll be buying ... but I'm not because anything with the word 'growth' in it these days is sadly beyond my reach.
New World Bordeaux blends are however and Te Mata Estate's Coleraine Cabernet Merlot will give you just as much pleasure as any super second ... well in my book anyway!
Some of the best drinking experiences over the past 5 years from my cellar have been from this wine ... and to say it pairs well with slow cooked lamb is an understatement. It's that kind of addictive experience you get as you literally want to keep topping your glass again and again.
At $75 RRP Australian you can get 12 of these bad boys for the same price as 1 bottle of Cos Destournel ... if Gordon Gecko was a wine and not a spirits drinker I think he'd agree with that kind of logic.'
- Karel, Buyer at Vinomofo
Published in Grapegrower & Winemaker Magazine, May 2014 - Issue 604