2022 releases from Te Mata

The iconic Hawke’s Bay producer has now reached its 50th year, and a showcase of the 2022 vintage wines showed just how accomplished their range now is, across the board. Coleraine – the darling of collectors and auction houses – will grab the headlines of course; but don’t forget to delve into gems like their Gamay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. 

Sauvignon Blanc is, surprisingly to some, one of their star turns. The regular Sauvignon Blanc is excellent, but the barrel-fermented Cape Crest is superb. The 2022 vintage is frisky and saline, with an intriguing perfume of grapefruit, bitter orange, pepper, whitecurrant, lemon peel and capsicum. It needs air – a good swirl, or even decanting it will release the full gamut of flavours. A tense and energetic palate has a slippery texture and even smoky, savoury notes of olive, incense and fennel. The blend contains 7% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Semillon in the 2022 vintage.

The Elston Chardonnay has to be regarded as one of New Zealand’s top expressions. Produced since 1984, it is grown on the terraces above the winery. It starts lean and tight with dry, subtle aromas of citrus first, then oatmeal, chestnut and stonefruit. Plenty of oak here, rich and toasty. A sense of nougat, baking spice and brioche, yet still quite light-footed and focussed. A creamy texture also emerges – I make it sound like it is ‘old school’ and in some ways it is; but it is also quite modern. Anyway, there is an intense, powerful finish. For me, one of the better Elstons of recent years.

Alma Pinot Noir – grown on the Woodthorpe Vineyards, is a recent addition to the stable. It’s an expression that doesn’t sit among any other styles than I can think of, in New Zealand – maybe because there aren’t really any other Pinots from Hawke’s Bay that you can relate it to. Lime Rock made one, in a style not unlike Wairarapa ones, but that was a few years ago. In my opinion it is still finding its feet. There is a balance of savoury (pepper, black tea) and juiciness (strawberry, redcurrant), and a youthful simplicity to the wine. Everything aligns, but it doesn’t have enough character and presence for me to want a second glass or rush out and buy a bottle.

I know a few people who reckon that the Bullnose Syrah is their favourite NZ version of this classic grape varietal. I’d put it right up there, but not quite at the pinnacle. A few years ago Hawke’s Bay Syrah was reckoned to be the ‘next-big-thing’ and one factor in its favour is a very identifiable aroma. You could put a Hawke’s Bay Syrah on a table with other great glasses from around the globe, and it would stand out. You might not know exactly here it was from (although you’d probably guess that it wasn’t Australian! lol) but it is distinctive. Here, there is a robust slice of raspberry, cherry cola, plum, spring florals, spice and violets. It’s a glossy wine, quite rich and full-bodied. Quite detailed – plenty to see and do, and then a velvet texture that blends everything, finishing harmonious and pure.

The Cabernet and Merlot blend of Awatea has usually been excellent value, and very long-lived. The 2022 has an almost equal blend of Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot, with Cabernet Franc making up the rest. It has super ‘cabernet’ appeal and character. Smoky, with mocha, vanilla and graphite alongside that cassis, elderberry, raspberry and damson fruit. A spicy salami-like savouriness also has graphite, nori and cloves amongst it – even a little tart sloe in there. Tannin is fine and chalky, but i would note that it is a little disjointed so far – give its pedigree I’d be Ok to hedge my bets and give a bottle or two some time in the cellar.

The 2022 Coleraine is made from 84% Cabernet Sauvignon – the highest component of this since the very first release in 1982. Just 3% Cabernet Franc this year, and 13% Merlot as well. it is a wine that exudes quality – from a team with a great collective knowledge, and a sense of how to just express their place in the world, in a glass. There’s a dustiness to Coleraine that it wears like a badge of honour. It’s DNA is the parched Hawke’s Bay summer that ripens the Cabernet fruit so well – a dry, dusty gravels that shows in the tannins in particular, but the texture and finish too. Sweet meadow grass, oyster shell, peppercorn, balsam, terracotta and dark chocolate. The cassis note of good cabernet is there, of course – the fruit eats up the oak so that it is just a simple framing and structure. There is weight and power through the palate, but mostly an elegance and sure-footed balance.

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