'Te Mata Coleraine from Hawke’s Bay is in my opinion New Zealand’s greatest red wine. It is a tribute to the foresight of John Buck and his partners in creating the wine, and to the superlative work of winemaker Peter Cowley and the viticultural team led by Larry Morgan who have provided a wine that is internationally recognised as one of the very best from the country for over three decades. There are other wines that come close; in the Bordeaux-style, Stonyridge ‘Larose’ is a contender, but doesn’t quite have the length of time of production, or the amount of wine made. There are some superb Pinot Noirs, but that is like comparing apples with oranges, and again, the length of track record of the top wines, Ata Rangi and Felton Pinot Noir does not measure up. Objectively one must say Coleraine is a stand-out.
I’ve been a follower of Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ from the beginning, purchasing most vintages, including the pre-cursor Te Mata Cabernet Sauvignon 1981 (but I missed out on the first 1980). I slowed down my buying of ‘Coleraine’ once I joined the wine trade, but have always been interested in the developments and evolution, participating and in fact organising promotional events at the retail outlets I was working at, in conjunction with Te Mata and their distributors. It allowed an intimacy with the wine, the Buck family (John, Wendy, Nick and Toby Buck) and the Te Mata team few have enjoyed. I worked vintage at Te Mata Estate for the 1991 vintage with the indominatable José Hernandez, my boss at the time. And I’ve been lucky to be involved in various vertical tastings of ‘Coleraine’, in particular the 25th Anniversary Tasting held in Napier on 3 May 2008, where 250 guests and 25 staff tasted the wines from the inaugural 1982 to the then current release 2006. Both my partner Sue Davies and I were pleased to help in a small way with the logistics of preparing the wines and pouring them....'
'I first met John in 1965 when he returned to New Zealand from the London Wine Trade to promoting the virtues of New Zealand Food and Wine. He was at least two decades ahead of his time! Needless to say it all went sour, and he turned his efforts to other things. In 1978 he and his accountant mate Michael Morris bought “Te Mata”, the oldest vineyard in the Hawkes Bay, in those days the pre-eminent region in a fledgling industry.
John and Michael teamed up with a young winemaker Peter Cowley who has proved his worth year in year out; and is now a legend in New Zealand. They make wines with complexity, but also in the refined manner of the European greats.
ELSTON CHARDONNAY '09
In 1989 I hosted a lunch in Auckland around the launch of one of my books, and served Elston. A prominent food and wine writer, forgetting that I had been in the Kiwi hospitality industry for six years before hitting London in 1972, said “I am amazed you know this wine”. I paraphrased Winston Churchill on Pol Roger Champagne – “I am easily satisfied with the best”. The 2009 vintage is a marvellous concentration of lime and apple flavours with great finesse. “It is without doubt the finest New Zealand Chardonnay” says the iconic Australian wine write James Halliday. Quite!
AWATEA CABERNETS/MERLOT '08
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with a tiny splash of Petit Verdot. This affordable Te Mata has a lovely rounded style with easy-going tendencies.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc
This is the business! Arguably New Zealand’s finest red wine; a marvellous brooding plethora of blackcurrants, chocolate and some liquorice in the background. It is amazing wine that flaunts its charms when both young and mature. I recently opened my last bottle of the first ever vintage, the 1983, and it was a knockout. Similarly I have also equally enjoyed a bottle of this recent harvest.
I hate quoting bloody Parker, but he quite rightly gives this an almighty 95/100, and Hugh Johnson recently rated it as a “beauty that could easily pass for a Bordeaux Cru Classé. “ John likes putting it up blind against Lynch Bages, Mouton Rothschild et al, with amazing results – so it is great value!'
'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....'
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 and more. 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.
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.
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 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 to the UK by Fells, and through Farr Vintners and The Wine Society. Te Mata's aim continues to be ‘Concentration, Complexity and Elegance'. As Nick Buck says “it’s our heart and soul”.
'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.
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.
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.