I Say Te Mata, You Say Tomato

March 12th 2014

I attended a tomato tasting last week. Or, so my colleague thought. It seems that my pronunciation of Hawke’s Bay winery Te Mata and tomato are very similar. Or, that could be my north-east accent getting lost in translation in a foreign land.

Heirlooms and pomodoros weren’t on the menu; Te Mata’s 2013 Estate range and its 2012 flagship wines were served up.

One Hawke’s Bay winemaker, who shall remain nameless, said “the 2012 vintage made the 2011 vintage look good – and that was shit!” So, expectations weren’t high for the 12s.

Te Mata has already announced that it won’t be releasing a 2012 Coleraine – its icon wine. Was the quality not good enough? Getting Cabernet Sauvignon ripe in 2012 was a big headache.

But that’s not the official line. Te Mata’s CEO Nick Buck says that the decision was not based on quality. Instead, the Coleraine yields were so low that “if we released it, we would only have 20 percent of normal production and we realised we would disappoint a lot of customers if we released it, so we decided to declassify it into 2012 Awatea.”

But I can’t say I’m overly excited about the 2012 Awatea. The 2012 reds are decent enough, particularly the Bullnose Syrah (91 points). There’s plenty of structure and firm acidity but you have to wonder if the fruit intensity this vintage offers will survive over the long term.

The cooler conditions are evident across the newly released range with tense acidity a common theme. This is not a weighty vintage and I’d like a splash more flavour concentration. My advice? Wait for the stellar 2013 vintage.

The wines in the 2013 Estate range, have a retail price of less than NZ$20 a bottle and show great intensity of flavour, juicy fruit, ripe acidity and, most importantly – balance. These aren’t wines for the long haul but will provide so much pleasure.

Buck said: “The 13 vintage has already been touted as an extraordinary year. We had an amazing summer: day after day of temperatures in the high 20s, very dry conditions – the driest summer in 70 years – with low humidity. This meant we were disease free, the fruit was ripe and concentrated.”

Go and buy the 2013 Gamay. New Zealand’s answer to Beaujolais is usually a juicy glass of fun. This year, it’s stepped up its game, adding an extra layer of fruit concentration and more peppery spice. While they’ve gone down the Beaujolais route of carbonic maceration for half of the fruit, a portion of the wine has been aged in ex-Bullnose Syrah barrels, adding a rich layer of pepper and rounding out the edges. It’s full of juicy blue and blackberry fruit and ain’t trying to be something it’s not: a wine to make you smile.

My other pick of the 2013 Estate wines is the Syrah. It’s appetizing and enjoyable yet it is a baby. Only bottled in February, this has got three to five years of drinking enjoyment in it. Read my latest Te Mata tasting notes.

Posted in - Hawkes Bay & New Zealand & Syrah & wine on March 12th 2014 0 Comments

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