Tasted at the winery as part of a small vertical of Coleraine, the 2018 is the imminent new release of one of New Zealand's most loved and respected red wines, made in the best years at the Te Mata estate since 1982. The blend is 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and a significant 15% of Cabernet Franc. The excellent 2017, also tasted, contained no Cab Franc.
Hand-harvested from the best blocks of old vines in the hillside vineyard opposite the winery in Havelock North, the wine saw extended maceration before spending 17 months in French oak barriques, 60% of which were new. It was bottled in December 2019. Slightly deeper in colour than the 2017, a solid crimson, it has a truly lovely perfume, touches of violet and kirsch like the 2017, a little bit of briar and olive, but more overtly ripe and plush fruit suggesting blackcurrant and cherry with less of the currant leaf note of the 2017. The slightly greater ripeness is apparent. Substantial and creamy on the palate, a flood of fruit is sweet and ripe, fleshy with plum and bramble, but the impression of bittersweetness comes with the endive and liquorice bite of the tannins, a touch of roasted chestnut, and fresh, vital acidity.
Tasted back to the 2009 vintage on this occasion, Te Mata suggest the wine begins to really hit its stride only after 15 years or more, but with substantial decanting this dense, powerful Coleraine will be approachable before then. It will be released in early spring 2020, and the UK importer is Fells.