Roger Jones finally has the opportunity to really get to know the wines of a New Zealand producer he has admired from a distance for a while. So when Te Mata’s chief executive, Nick Buck, invited him to a special London tasting, including a vertical of its award winning Coleraine Bordeaux blend, he was first in line.
Roger Jones, Michelin-star chef, and owner of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, gives his personal account of a vertical tasting of Te Mata Coleraine Bordeaux blend plus other special wines from its New Zealand estate.
Firmly established as one of New Zealand’s premier Bordeaux blends the Te Mata Coleraine Vertical tasting hosted at the splendid Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall this week certainly attracted the elite; Farr Vintners, Stephen Brook, Rosemary George, The Wine Society, Margaret Rand, Guy Woodward…
On my last trip to New Zealand I failed to have time to visit this family owned vineyard based in Havelock North with vineyards on the Woodthorpe Terraces and Bridge Pa Triangle as well as Havelock Hills. I was therefore intrigued to see if the hype lived up to the expectations.
On arrival in the Art Deco bar of the Corinthia Hotel we were greeted with a luscious Te Mata Viognier, full of exotic white flowers, delicate white peaches and hints of ginger biscuits on the background, a refreshing start to a barmy London evening.
I must congratulate the venue for the next chapter of the evening when we were directed into a perfect tasting gallery with high ceilings, plenty of air and light to go through the vertical tasting of Te Mata Coleraine.
The Te Mata Coleraine is a Cabernet, Merlot and Cab Franc blend first made in 1982 – firstly as a single vineyard then from 1989 it was sourced from 30 plots within Te Mata’s 9 vineyards. Peter Cowley has been in charge of winemaking since 1984, although the final selection of the wines that go into the Coleraine are set up by the chosen “Golden 5” who after three weeks of blending, deliberating and discarding each makes their own final sample blend. The five sample bottles are then left for a week where the judges go off on holiday prior to the New Zealand version of ‘The Coleraine X Factor ‘ and each of the “Golden 5” votes for their best blend, with the wining blend going into production.
We were asked by Nick Buck, chief executive of Te Mata, to taste the wines from oldest to youngest, as he believes the best is yet to come. Here are some of my thoughts about the wines we tasted:
Te Mata Coleraine 1995
Dark slightly dirty colour, copper brick nose, rich coffee, leather bound library, some degree of dryness at end but a classic Bordeaux style that may have had its best years but certainly the enticing rose flower nose was prominent and it had a lovely acidity and texture, this had been aged in the UK and Nick said that stocks he had in NZ were fresher.
Te Mata Coleraine 2000
Dark damson, floral nose, aromatic, savoury and spiced, evolving, tanning still adjusting, this is still developing.
Te Mata Coleraine 2005
A stunning example of how new world and old world combines, this to me was an absolute star, seamless, the hedonistic rose petals on the nose to the silky smooth damsons, juicy blackberries, hints of bay and slightly dry overtones, but balanced by weight and depth. The purity and length of this wine is immense. Still needs time and will age well.
Te Mata Coleraine 2013
Both 2013 and 2014 were great vintages in Hawkes Bay after a poor 2012, both these wines show how Te Mata continue to develop and improve their wines. The 2013 needs time but certainly was another blockbuster, so well balanced, elegance, liquorice, voluptuous, cassis on nose, deep brambles in the background, chocolate, red currants evolving well. Possibly could get better than the 2005 but I cant wait that long!
Te Mata Coleriane 2014 – latest release
Deep mulberry and rose flower nose, herbaceous, rich and multi layered. Cassis and toasty background, despite the taught tannins there is a lovely richness to this wine and great prospect again, but on the day the 13 was showing better.
Following the vertical tasting we gathered our thoughts over a stupendous glass of Sauvignon Blanc, made greater by the addition of some Semillon and Sauvignon Gris and aged in oak for a year. This was truly a world class wine – called Te Mata Cape Crest SB 14 – layered, textured, bright exotic fruits, but an underlying freshness that brought the whole thing to life. This is the wine that dreams are made from, a clash of rock and roll Loire and cool New World.
Te Mata Elston Chardonnay
Citrus, stone fruit, tight, layers yellow stone fruit, smooth Mendoza clones a great wine in this style and highly rated but I personally prefer Neudorf Moutere from the South Island.
Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2014
Succulent plums, black pepper, oriental spices, raspberries mocha. Youthful but a lovely example of how good Syrah from Hawkes Bay can be. Silky, bright and evolving all the time in the glass. Named after the famous Morris Cawley Bullnose vehicle of 1915, whose radiator is on the label.
Te Mata Awatea 2014
Forward, dark fruits perfectly balanced with a texture and classic Hawkes Bay dusty, rich blackberry and bay leaf aromas. Easy forward drinking.
It was a great privilege to try these wines in such a grand environment and to have Nick Buck talk us through the story behind Te Mata. The demand for these wines especially the Te Mata Coleraine produces a secondary market in New Zealand. Their cost on release however is very reasonable in the UK and is supplied in the UK by Fells, and through Farr Vintners and The Wine Society. The aim continues to be ‘Concentration, Complexity and Elegance” as Nick says “its our heart and soul”.