Wines of Te Mata Estate, Hawke’s Bay

These tasting notes accompany our feature on Hawke’s Bay as part of our New Zealand 2020 series

White Wines

(2020) Nice touch of green fig and citrus, just a little passion fruit. The ripeness of the limey acid runs through a more pear and peach, ripe mid-palate.
(2020) Cape Crest is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, with around 10% - 15% of Semillon and Sauvignon Gris, made in immersion barrels, with three months battonage. Immersion barrels are made with a special technique that extracts tannin from the oak, resulting in a softer character being imparted to the wine. A touch of Jack Daniels, oatmeal and cream, the palate quite waxy with some leafy, soft herbs, an attractive and balanced wine. Price and stockist quoted for the 2018 vintage at time of review.
(2020) Made from the Mendoza clone (with its hen and chick tendency), and low-cropped. Part wild yeast fermentation in barrel. The oak is subtle, again a little Jack Daniels note, but then mouth-watering juiciness with lemon and fennel, apple fruit and the acid line playing against a little soft nougat or almond. Price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the previous vintage.
(2020) Elston is a single vineyard, and this is 100% barrel fermented, with 100% malolactic fermentation. Creamy, oatmeal and a touch of vanilla, but the lemon and gentle peach flavours, grapefruit and mandarin orange acid is assertive but generous into a long finish. Substantial and yet elegant. Available from quoted stockist at time of review, by the six-bottle case.
(2020) The vine material originally came from Condrieu for this Viognier, and a little bit of the wood used for barrel ageing is Acacia.  Jasmine, roses, flowers and herbs, apricot. The mouth-feel is soft and creamy, with good acidity, a bit of sherbetty phenolic grip to brighten the finish. Nicely done and carries 14% alcohol well. Price and stockist is for a previous vintage at time of review.

Red Wines

(2020) Lovely pale garnet colour, from a wine made with 15% carbonic maceration a la Beaujolais. Has some leafiness, some redcurrant and spice, a touch of aniseed. The fruit is pure and raspberry and cherry-ripe, that touch of fennel and salt is there to give the finish both freshness and a little grip.
(2020) Fruit is from Bridge Pa, 100% Syrah that spends eight months in barrel. Pale crimson colour, nice stony, mineral character, small, dry redcurrant fruit, little spicy notes, a touch of cream and flesh fills out the palate, but the acidity of tart raspberry comes through to keep this fresh and agile.
(2020) Around 12% of Cabernet Franc in the blend too. Bold crimson, lithe and cherryish, moving into cassis, but bright, bold and perfumed. Lovely dry palate, the medium-bodied black and red fruits against firm but silky and sandy tannins and well-judge acidity, finishes long on sweet fruit and acidity.
(2020) From the 20-year-old vines, that were not bottled until the last few years. Winemaker Phil worked at Clos de Lambrays in Burgundy and I suspect this was something of a pet project - Hawke's Bay Pinot still being relatively rare. Bright, orange, cherryish, a touch of briar, there’s a little polished edge, very taut with sour cherry and taut acids and fine, tight tannins. Very nice wine. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2020) Fruit from Bridge Pa, aged 15 months in barrel (35% new). Moves in the bacon fat spectrum, creaminess, spices and pepper, but more about the plush black fruits, little wild garrigue  notes. The palate has great firm juiciness, the creamy and pure fruit, but that slightly wild and gamy side adds so much to the complexity and interest. Price and stockist is for an earlier vintage at time of review.
(2020) Softening colour, bloody, ripe, dried blood and oxide, but all the sweet and ripe character of fruit is beneath. Big creamy mouthful of Syrah, all the sweetness and plushness you cold want, but creamy and softly spicy, a generous acidity in the finish to give it terrific length. Possibly not for long ageing now, but In a lovely place. Price and stockist is for the most recent vintage at time of review.
(2020) Around 2% of Petit Verdot in the blend here, along with both Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, and Merlot. It spent 16-18 months in barrel, 40% new oak and the fruit comes from soils of limestone, clay and wind-blown volcanic material. Youthful, dried herbs, mussel shells, blackcurrant and just a touch of something like bay leaf. In the mouth there is a red fruit tartness and edge, that is taut and gives energy to the darker fruit tones, a little leather and dried sage. Lovely. Price and stockist quoted is for the 2017 vintage at time of review.
(2020) A touch more floral and lifted than the 2016, a bit of tapenade, racy cherry and raspberry, the same fruit complexity of red over dark, but super-juicy, a squirt of lemon juice and edgy, energetic flavours are crisp and fresh in the finish over black fruit.
(2020) No Cabernet Franc in this vintage, 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 60% new oak. Beautiful crimson colour and absolutely gorgeous aromatic intensity, some kirsch and firm black berries, a little exotic Sandalwood spice and light, incense-like smokiness. A touch of green olive and currant leaf, but what a lovely nose. Such pure, sweet fruit, the tight grained structure of the tannins and the line of acidity makes it lithe and supple. Juiciness to spare, a touch of kirsch and floral in the finish. Like the 2018, obviously considerable cellaring potential.
(2020) Big Cabernet Franc component of 16% in this vintage, bottled just a month ago. Slightly deeper colour than the 2017, still crimson. Lovely perfume, touches of violet and kirsch again, a little bit of briar and olive, but more overtly ripe and plush than the 2017. Substantial creamy palate, a flood of fruit that is sweet, but the impression of bittersweet with the endive and liquorice bite of the tannins, a touch of roasted chestnut add great, vital acidity again. Price and stockist quoted for the previous vintage at time of review.
(2020) Seven years since I last tasted this (blind) and rated it 89/100 and found it a bit green. Te Mata still consider it too young, softening colour around the rim, a lot more meaty than the younger wines, tapenade, a touch of menthol, but the meatiness is so muscular and compact at this stage. Sweet, very intense, muscular with a touch of polished wood or leather, but you see that Coleraine freshness in there too. Juicy, fresh acids edge the fruit and structure that may indeed give it time yet. Price and stockist for the most recent vintage at time of review.

Back to Te Mata Estate profile in our feature on Hawke’s Bay


  1. All their wines are very good or better. The one we regularly buy is the Gamay. Pricing remains stiff otherwise I’d buy more of the others.

  2. It’s always a joy to see a back vintage of a wine, in one’s cellar, reviewed. I’m talking about the 2009 Coleraine. I had heard that it was a wine for the long haul and it seems that it is. I will drink my ’09 and ’10 Awatea in the meantime. Cheers.

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