With the help of the Marist brotherhood, and the Beecham family in Central Hawke's Bay, early Te Mata Vineyards was recognized for its export quality by Romeo Bragato in 1905. Since then Te Mata wines have been available, and won praise in Europe, including a Gold Medal at the Imperial International Exhibition in 1909. In the early twentieth century, Te Mata was New Zealand's largest wine producer also picking up Gold Medals in the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition and the 1909 Japan-British Exhibition.
While the winery's original buildings and cellars have been in continuous use since 1896, the cellar was augmented by a first-year barrel hall in the 1930s. Since this point, Te Mata Estate has undergone significant modernization and development. Chairman John Buck was key to opening up the European and US markets for New Zealand wine in his role as Chairman of New Zealand Wine Institute. Te Mata Estate wines are now available in 45 countries.
'Deep in the heart of Hawke’s Bay lies the country’s oldest winemaking property – Te Mata Estate. Cabernet and Chardonnay vines were planted back in 1892, and ever since then wine has been produced from this special piece of land. While the current owners – the Buck family - cannot say they have been on the land for quite that long, they can lay claim to creating a new dynasty within the burgeoning New Zealand wine industry. Tessa Nicholson interviews John and Toby Buck about what this kind of work means to their family, and sharing Te Mata with the world....'
Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely gets its name from the French words sauvage ("wild") and blanc ("white") due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France. It is possibly a descendant of Savagnin. Sauvignon blanc is planted in many of the world's wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Washington and California. Some New World Sauvignon blancs, particularly from California, may also be called "Fume Blanc".
Most New Zealand producers ferment and age their sauvignon blancs in stainless steel to accentuate the wine’s crisp, zesty, bracing qualities, while a few barrel-ferment the wine. Malolactic fermentation is rare, and barrel-aging usually is limited to a few months’ duration.
At Te Mata Estate we make two sauvignons, the Estate Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc which we ferment in tank and the Cape Crest which we ferment and age in French oak. Though the Cape Crest is Sauvignon dominant it also contain a small amount of Semillon and Sauvignon Gris. This second-style of blended and barrel-aged sauvignon is far less common in New Zealand and, unlike the more typical style, will continue to develop in bottle for 5 to 7 years.
For Cape Crest we separate our vineyards into 36 'parcels' of land. These separate parcels are each handpicked, destemmed and lightly crushed, then cooled before a brief period of skin contact. Following pressing and cold-settling, they are run to a mixture of new and seasoned French oak barrels for fermentation. The resulting wines are aged on lees, with regular stirring, before blending in December. The blend is returned to tank for a further two month maturation on fine lees, before fining and bottling in February. This additional time and handling on lees produces the high level of Sauvignon complexity for which this style is most noted.
'An historical event for the New Zealand wine scene was conducted at the Hastings Opera House in Hawke’s Bay on Saturday 3 May. There, Te Mata Estate celebrated 25 years of their flagship wine ‘Coleraine’, with a vertical tasting of every vintage of the wine made for over 200 friends and wine lovers. The ‘Coleraine’ label is an icon for the New Zealand wine industry, it being the longest continually produced premium wine in this country. It is the benchmark by which other Bordeauxstyled Hawke’s Bay reds are judged, and in some ways is the yardstick for our whole industry to measure success.
Many people see ‘Coleraine’ as an indicator for New Zealand’s wine progress, and place it in a standing with the world’s finest examples of the style. The fact that it has remained a ‘classical’ expression of the Bordeaux varietals throughout its life is a testament to the confidence of the proprietors of Te Mata in the timelessness of its style and its ability for longevity and to develop
interest and complexity with bottle-age. There is certainly no concession to fads and fashions, and in doing so, the wine keeps to parameters that ensure international understanding of the refined, elegant, ageworthy Bordeaux-style. Such wines are particularly suited to matching fine cuisine, and in that context, ‘Coleraine’ is truly a very successful wine. The foresight, vision and work of owners John and Wendy Buck, with Michael and June Morris is to be commended, as is the technical skill of winemaker Peter Cowley, supported by Phil Brodie and viticulturist Larry Morgans, and their teams.
The vertical tasting was one of several varied events that celebrated and showcased Te Mata Estate’s established standing and its excellent range of high quality wines, including, of course, ‘Coleraine’. Some of the features of the weekend of festivities included the serving of the 1981 Te Mata Cabernet Sauvignon, the precursor wine to ‘Coleraine’. It was still very much alive and drinking well, though showing the leafiness that modern viticulture has now more easily negated. The introduction of ‘Coleraine’ with the following vintage was a step up from this wine. Attendees also had the opportunity of tasting barrel samples of the 2007 ‘Coleraine’ as well as a freshly fermented 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon component, these showing glimpses of the continued quality to come. However, it was the vertical tasting of ‘Coleraine’ from the inaugural 1982 vintage to the current release 2006 that was the main billing.'
- by Raymond Chan
'Many of us like to believe that wines improve with age although we generally drink them young. Some do get better, some don't, but the ability to develop with age has always been a mark of fine wine. Charmian Smith reports on a remarkable tasting of wines many decades old.
For the best part of four decades, John Buck, of Te Mata Estate, has been driven by the vision of creating fine wine in the style of the great French wines of Bordeaux, the best of which have the ability to develop complexity and charm over a couple of decades of cellaring.
He celebrated his 70th birthday recently with tastings of not only older Te Mata wines, but also with a tasting of 14 Madeira wines which have the ability to age longer than any other wines in the world. With wines up to 185 years old, it is probably the first tasting of this type in New Zealand.
Wine has been made on the Madeira islands for more than five centuries, but it developed its present fortified style in the 18th century. Sailing ships stopped at the Portuguese mid-Atlantic island on the way to the American colonies or to India to load casks of the wine. It benefited from the tropical voyage so they replicated the effect by storing barrels in the roofs of the warehouses on the island, allowing it to cook.
As John Buck said, Madeira breaks all the rules of winemaking. It is exposed to air, it is heated in-barrel, and it has a searing acidity, as well as, in most styles, sweetness. The classic styles are kept in barrels for years.
The youngest wine in the tasting, a 1985 Blandy's Malmsey was bottled in 2009, the Blandy's Bual 1920 bottled in 2006, and the 1827 Quinta de Serrado Bual bottled in 1988.
It was a surreal experience drinking a wine made the year Beethoven died, before Queen Victoria came to the throne, and before the Treaty of Waitangi, but unless you were told, you wouldn't realise it was 185 years old.
- Charmian Smith attended the tastings in Hawke's Bay as a guest of Te Mata Estate.