• 2020 ‘Simply the Best’

    2020 was simply perfect. With low rainfall and fabulous weather 2020 will go down in the history books as one of the best on record. In fact, according to Te Mata Estate CEO Nick Buck – this is the best in Te Mata’s history.

    Average rainfall in Winter 2019 ensured good soil moisture going into the season. September was mild, with only a few days above 20 degrees. There were no frosts and rainfall was average at around 60mm. October was warm with most days reaching 20 to 25 degrees. We did have an isolated hail event at Te Mata’s Isosceles vineyard, causing a reduction to the chardonnay crop. With no frosts, and rainfall of 130mm, this ensured good soil moisture early in the season. November was very warm with most days between 25 and 30 degrees and five days around 30 degrees. Warmish nights contributed to an impressive monthly heat summation with 60-degree days above the average. Rainfall at less than half the average began a trend that was to last the
    whole season.

    December was warm with most days reaching 25 to 30 degrees. Flowering was early (about 10 days) and went well with very favourable temperatures in November and December. Chardonnay (the first to flower) set with noticeable ‘hen and chicken’ in both the Mendoza and clone 548, possibly due to some cool nights. Rainfall at 40mm was two thirds of the average. Overall, canopies had reached a good size and crop levels appeared normal, although bunch numbers appeared to be down a bit compared to previous years. Grass in the vineyard was dying
    off and irrigation was underway in most blocks. This year, the reds (except the gamay noir) were 100% leaf plucked and done earlier, before January. Gamay noir had a 70% leaf pluck, more than the previous years.

    January temperatures were variable with a cooler, southerly patch mid-month, but most days were in the 25 to 30 degree range. The month finished with a very hot week of 30 to 35 degree days bringing the January heat summation to a little above average. Rainfall was well below normal at between 20 and 30mm, depending on vineyard location. It became apparent that syrah and younger merlot vines were carrying a larger crop than expected. This was due not to excess bunches, but there being more berries per bunch than usual. A greater effort was made at this time to fine tune the crop levels in these varieties by dropping bunches and to do it earlier (preveraison) versus a green thin.

    February began with three memorable days between 35 and 40 degrees and continued with most days around 30 and only five below 25 degrees. Nights were warm at 10 to 15 degrees. Unsurprisingly, heat summation ended up 50 degree days warmer than average for the month. Rainfall was 3mm! Full irrigation programs were in place. All vine canopies had grown well and were healthy with no signs of fungus diseases. Veraison began at least 10 days early and accelerated in the February heat so that it was all but done by the 20th. Cabernet Franc began late and then caught up.

    Autumn – Harvest
    March temperatures were like a roller coaster, with several cooler southerly patches punctuated by longer periods of warm days between 25 and 30 degrees. Degree days for the month were a little below average and rainfall was 25mm, most of which was after picking had finished. By late February/early March, it was most noticeable that there was no botrytis in the crop and flavours in the grapes had come early and were delicious.

    2020 will be remembered as a very early and exceptional vintage. White varieties were harvested by the first week of March in beautiful condition, with moderate to good sugar levels. Picking decisions were made more around flavours and acidity; as we had ripe acidity at lower sugars, freshness was paramount and maintained. Gamay noir was finished by mid-March and has produced a wine of more colour and flavour than we have seen previously.

    Other red varieties continued to ripen in the dry and warm conditions of late March. The perfectly healthy crop meant our hand harvesting crew could easily pick good tonnages every day, enabling us to bring in the red crop with ideal ripeness and condition in the second half of March. In the barrel, the young red wines of 2020 have deeply saturated colours and intense ripe berry, syrupy flavours. Tannins are monumental but sweet, fine-grained and powdery.

    Conclusions – So what was it about 2020 that made the wines so good?

    ● Plenty of early season soil moisture and warmth established good sized canopies.
    ● No canopy disease because of hot, dry conditions.
    ● Stress was established well before veraison to encourage ripeness and small berries.
    ● No botrytis due to very dry conditions and very few dews (only late in the season and light ones).
    ● Berry weights were small and most crop levels were below normal.
    ● Every month after October received well below average rainfall; this, coupled with well run deficit irrigation,
    enabled a sustained five months of ideal water relations in the vines, i.e. five months of continuous ripening
    in ideal conditions.
    ● There was a burst of heat in November and February.
    ● Most months had above or well above (November and February) average heat summation.
    ● Season’s heat summation to the end of picking was well above the March average and closer to that of many good vintages picked in April. It was the driest on record as from January.

    The vintage provided fruit of quality from each of the Te Mata sub regions that were so distinguishable with a bloom on the berry, small berries, massive extract, tension, ripe acidity and tannins.

    With the new processing line and cuverie development, we have exciting times ahead to take some great wines to our assemblage tastings. These wines are now coming from older vines and a very experienced team of passionate people who have got to know the vineyards’ personalities.

    Te Mata Estate’s reputation for making ‘Wines of Provenance’ will again be strengthened from an exceptional 2020 vintage. This vintage in particular demonstrates Hawke’s Bay’s maritime/temperate climate can make wines having not only a sense of place but with tension, extract, balance and that quintessential digestibility factor.

    Download the Technical Report from Te Mata’s Senior Winemaker Phil Brodie here

  • 2019 ‘Early. Easy & Exciting’

    2019 was a warm, dry, easy grape-growing season that has produced some of our most exciting results yet. We’re excited to get these out. Time will tell, but this could be one of our best.

    Average winter rainfall and 100mm of rain early September ensured plenty of soil moisture going
    into the 2018/19 season. The rest of September, October and most of November were very dry.
    Around 100mm of rain fell on the 25th and 26th of November. Three mornings around zero degrees
    in both September and October were a worry but only slight frost damage occurred in one
    vineyard. November warmed up nicely and heat summation by the end of the month was average
    for spring.

    Budbreak was early as was flowering which was about 10 days early and finished by early
    December. Two cool days late November affected flowering in some chardonnay and merlot
    reducing the crop a little.

    December was warm with many days around 25 degrees and a few closer to 30. Conditions were
    dry until 100mm of rain fell over Christmas wetting up soils. Soils were drying nicely and the driest
    parts of some vineyards were receiving irrigation when another 90mm of rain fell between the 14th
    and 16th of January. The rain events early to mid-summer were not ideal but they came with cooler
    weather, passed quickly and were followed by warm and dry conditions.

    No further rain fell in January and the month was very warm with 10 days around or just over 30
    degrees. Nights were warm. Heat summation for the year to the end of January was 90 degree days
    above average which is significant.

    Vineyard soils dried out quickly late January driven by favourable weather and big, healthy vine
    canopies. Veraison (colour change) was under way early in most blocks in the first week in
    February and strangely, was led by Syrah which is normally later than other varieties. February was
    very warm and dry until the 24th when a southerly storm produced 40mm of rain which dried out
    quickly in strong cool winds. By this time all shoot growth had stopped due to water stress and
    the drier vineyards needed irrigation.

    March began and ended with a few cooler days but most highs were a very warm 25 to 30 degrees
    and the only rain was 15mm from a few showers around the 9th of the month. We harvested
    Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay between the 14th and 22nd well ripened and in very good
    condition. Warm nights contributed to low malic acids in the grapes and reduced the number of
    dews we experienced. Soils continued to dry giving the vital stress conditions necessary to
    maximise colour, flavour and tannin concentration in red varieties. We noted some lovely flavours
    developing in Merlot grapes early, in the last week of March.

    April temperatures were variable with some cooler periods amongst warmer days and mild nights.
    It remained dry with only one showery day holding up picking. Red varieties were picked almost
    every day from the 25th of March until finishing on the 14th of April. The dry, settled weather
    enabled all blocks of grapes to be picked at ideal ripeness in a more leisurely fashion than is usual.

    Vintage timing, all season ran 1-2 weeks ahead of our long term average. Crop levels were normal
    in size. Good early soil moisture and warmer than average temperatures created big grape canopies
    that promoted good ripeness and helped dry out soils after early summer rain. These rain events
    were too early for botrytis concerns and the small amount of rain later in the season was short in
    duration and dried quickly in favourable weather. Variously warm, cloudy or windy nights, mid
    and late season lead to very few light dews and no fogs contributing to the luxury of negligible
    botrytis pressure. Monthly heat summations were mostly above average with January being well
    above average. Between the mid-January rain and the end of picking in April only 70mm of rain
    fell which is less than half the long term average. 2019 was a warm and dry season. Apart from
    extra trimming of early season growth this was an easy grape growing season.

    White grapes were picked at good sugar levels and in very good condition. The young wines exhibit
    ripe stone fruit and citrus aromas and flavours and impressive palate weight.

    Red grapes were ripened to perfection and the wines show excellent flavour, colour and tannin.
    2019 is a very good vintage. Time will tell if it is amongst our best.

    Sept 206mm, Oct 29mm, Nov 56mm, Dec 95mm, Jan 78mm, Feb 49mm, Mar 19mm, Apr 45mm

    Heat Summation
    1571 degree days to the end of April. 1513 to the last day of picking

    Download the full technical report from Senior Winemaker Peter Cowley here…

  • 2018 ‘Vintage Dynamite’

    With an exceptionally warm, classic, long summer – Vintage 2018 gave us an explosion of flavour and colour!

    Read the technical report from Senior Winemaker Peter Cowley here

  • 2017 ‘Fast and Furious’

    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.  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.

    Read the technical report from Senior Winemaker Peter Cowley here

  • 2016 ‘The Turnaround’

    We couldn’t be happier with the fruit quality in 2016. The turnaround produced whites that look fresh and vibrant – showing full, ripe flavours and excellent acid balance. Reds appear plump, fruity, and with good levels of ripe tannins. Again, the reds have that depth of colour we’ve seen develop in the last three years, and the 2016 cabernet and merlot look especially promising.

    Read the technical report from Senior Winemaker Peter Cowley here...

  • Vintage 2015 – ‘Third Time’s A Charm!’

    The success of 2015 is down to the lower than normal crops which provided great concentration and maximized the effect of the dry and warm mid-summer. The good fortune of well-timed weather when we wanted it outweighed any concerns from a cool start to the spring or a few late-season autumn showers. The charm of 2015 is already evident in the wines and will prove the lasting testament of our third successive high-quality vintage.

    White grapes had lovely flavour in the vineyard and this has flowed through to the young wines. They are fresh and full of fruit.

    Red grapes benefitted from a long, mostly dry and warm growing season. Small crops produced wines with concentration and dark colours.  Tannins and flavours are ripe, and lively acids will keep the wines fresh in youth and maturity.

    A PDF of this report is available here.

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