(2022) From Hawke's Bay, not most people's first thought when it comes to Pinot Noir, and indeed Te Mata thought long and hard about releasing this wine, even though the vineyard was planted over 20 years ago. It was a good decision as this wine, and a previous vintage tasted on a visit in 2020, proves. It was de-stemmed and aged in a mix of new and seasoned French oak barriques for 11 months. Bright and deep crimson in colour, there's a really pretty floral and fragrant red fruit character aromatically, with a chestnutty background that's lightly earthy and woody. The palate is deliciously plush and velvetty, with plenty of fruit, but there is a liquorice and, again, chestnut edge of very juicy acidity and firm, fine tannins to extend the finish. Really quite lovely. Stockist is for the previous vintage at time of review.
(2022) Stonecroft boasts the oldest Syrah vines in New Zealand, planted by Dr. Alan Limmer in 1984. This flagship wine contains fruit from these vines and is a selection of the best French oak barriques, in which the wine matured for 20 months (40% new). Only 110 cases were produced. This shows little sign of the five years it has under its belt, the colour bold and deep, and the aromas surging from the glass, of thick, blue-black fruit, cedary spices, tobacco and leather. Amongst all of that there is a higher, kirsch-like bright note too. In the mouth there's plenty of toasty, chocolate-deep oak wrapped around the black fruit, but there is an elegance too, a fresh and tart plum skin bittersweetness, fine acid balance and a long, harmonious finish that's all about the intensity of the fruit.Â Very impressive, though no UK retail listing at time of review.
(2021) A Cabernet-dominated blend from the Gimblett Gravels, that always gives my database a challenge to fit in the full label details. If only they'd rename it 'Bordeaux blend'. Vibrant, dark, saturated crimosn, then bright, almost pastille aromas of blackcurrant and violet, there is a nice gravelly touch to the background, along with some polished oak. In the mouth this has a barrow-load of black fruits, a nicely sour orange tang to the acidity that fits in well, and a roughening edge to the tannins that just grips towards the lip-smacking, juicy but tart and mouth-watering finish.
(2021) Also from Bridge Pa in Hawke's Bay, made from whole-bunch fermentation of the Chave clone of Syrah, and aged 12 to 14 months in a mix of 225-litre and 500-litre French oak barrels, 50% new. Again, a fine sense of lifted, more delicate fruit character here, but beneath a more solid blackberry weight comes through and just a nice little herbal note of stemminess. In the mouth relatively plush and smooth, a darker fruit quality than the Te Mata, and a liquoricy stripe of tannin and tart, plum-skin acidity gives it some length too.
(2020) An unusual blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Tempranillo, 23% Cabernet Franc. Lovely depth of colour, creamy and firm, with dry tannins and juiciness, tobacco and smokiness, with a firm tannin and acidity. Real intensity of vibrant fruit and juiciness in the finish, the Cabernet tannins firming things up. No UK stockists at time of review.
(2020) From the Bridge Pa region, a new wine for Smith & Sheth. Beautifully fragrant, floral lift, spices, a lovely red fruit raspberry and cherry brightness. Plenty of spice and a touch of chocolate on the palate with such mouth-filling sweet fruit, beautifully smooth tannins and creamy acids to make a delicious and elegant wine. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2020) From Gimblett Gravels, a lovely meaty, plush wine with ripe fruit, flecked with spice, game and tobacco. Very good fruit and acid balance, a savoury, gastronomic wine, with a smooth, but grippy and serious character. No UK retail stockist at time of review.
(2020) Plenty of meaty, solid, polished oak and deep fruit. Sandalwood and spices rather than florals. Lots of juiciness here too, tangy and dry, quite a serious savoury style with a rasp of tannin and plum skin grippy acidity and extract, but has a fine red fruit firmness and rich juiciness.
(2020) Oak gives a little smoke, spice, higher notes, yet a substantial and quite gamey edge too. Juicy, firmer tannins, drying, but plenty of grip. I'd say this still needs time and may merit an extra point or two. No retail listing in the UK at time of review.
(2020) Lovely nose, a bloody edge to the deep, plush fruit, plenty of spice and a sheen of oak. Very juicy, ripe blueberry and cherry, a cherry skin grip of acidity and very fine tannins. Juicy to the finish. Price and stockist is for the previous vintage at time of review.