Winter finished very dry with aquafers at record low levels. Spring bud break was early and showed compact flowering that’s always a quality factor - leading to even ripeness within the bunch. Flowering was finished with cabernet sauvignon on December 5th, a good week earlier than usual during a dry month with half December’s average rainfall. January, too, was very warm and very dry. Hawke’s Bay basked in lovely summer weather. Most days reached 25 degrees and many were 30 degrees or more. The low 7mm of rain for the month, on top of the dry November and December, led to very dry soils.February began as January had finished – hot and dry. The ideal warm and dry weather up to mid-February had a very positive effect on the crops at that stage. It was a brilliant early season, with perfect conditions. Ripeness was advanced, and bunches set smaller berries with thicker skins. Flavours, sugars, acids and tannins were riper than usual for the time of the year with berries set up to stand any weather change. Vintage 2017 was looking extremely promising with a great year on the cards.
Harvest began on March 6th. Estate Vineyards Chardonnay fruit was picked on March 6th and 7th. But this point marked a change in the weather pattern. Temperatures remained warm, but from March 7th the weather can be fairly described as unsettled - with alternating weeks of dry then wet, and cool then warm conditions. Our hand-picked Elston blocks hung for another week in the dry and were picked on March 21st and 22nd. By the 19th many merlot and syrah blocks were reaching their potential for the year and these were harvested in mainly dry conditions over the following week. Cabernets, gamay and the best of our syrahs were picked around the end of the month. Some very nice merlot and cabernet at our Havelock Hills vineyards was picked on March 31st and April 2nd among continued dry spells. Four high-potential Bordeaux variety blocks at Havelock were left out as more dry weather followed. We finished harvesting with these hill sites on our last day, April 11th. Four weeks from start to finish – it was a fast and furious harvest.2017 was a year when the Te Mata team and the Te Mata method of production made all the difference. Hand-picking and hand-sorting, and careful vineyard management shone through and delivered fruit in remarkable condition. Our hand harvesting crew worked overtime, enabling the last possible day of ripening for those blocks. The ‘growing’ season was textbook-perfect, setting us up with incredible groundwork. Harvest weather was unsettled, but modest crop levels continued to ripen in the conditions, with all crops picked before any disease pressure could take over. Grape flavours were good, and berry weights were smaller than average, giving all the positive features this confers. Immediately post-harvest, the white wines look fresh and fruity, and the pressed reds have excellent colour and flavour. Red wines look impressive with 2017 cabernets looking particularly spectacular, again showing this varietal’s quality attributes. Thanks to our team’s outstanding efforts, many long hours, and a fast and furious harvest, we’ve ended up with a lot to look forward to.
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
'The single most complete collection of Coleraine wine, dating back to its inception more than 30 years ago, has been auctioned off in Auckland for well over its valuation. The highest bidder was Air New Zealand, which nabbed the 'vertical' (one bottle from every year it was made) for $5,700 net at Webb's Auction house on Tuesday evening.
Te Mata Estate's Coleraine is hailed by many as the premier red this country produces. Its 2013 vintage retailed at $100 a bottle and sold out in just 10 days.'
'Critics agree, that yet again, Te Mata Estate’s Coleraine is New Zealand greatest red wine. The 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.
Established in 1896, Te Mata Estate remains family owned, producing internationally recognized wines exclusively from its Hawke’s Bay vineyards.'
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.'
Renowned poet C.K Stead has been named New Zealand's Poet Laureate for 2015-2017.
Te Mata Estate established the role of Poet Laureate to represent New Zealand's poets, promote and advocate for poetry and to produce published work during the two-year tenure. Chris Szekely, chief librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library who administer the award, said Stead's international presence as a poet, teacher, editor, literary critic and novelist was central to his appointment.
"Karl Stead has been a constant contributor to New Zealand's literary landscape across a range of disciplines for over 60 years," he said.
He will be taking over the reins from 2013-2015 Poet Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan. Previous laureates include Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare and Jenny Bornholdt.
Don't forget to signup to our Membership Club if you want exclusive offers and advance notification of our new release wines. To see behind the scenes of our winery or just to get a feel for the world of Hawke's Bay wine, follow us on Instagram. For tastings, events, the very latest news and critic's reviews then Twitter and Facebook are your best bet. Best wishes from the Te Mata Estate team!
'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