Sometimes, quite rarely if truth be told, when you stick your nose into a glass of wine, you don't smell grape juice, you smell brilliance. It doesn't happen anywhere near as much as I'd like, but when it does, it reaffirms why wine is such glorious stuff. That smell of vinousity, of terroir, of a sense of place, of varietal purity, of fruit clarity, of depth, of structural promise - its what sets wine apart as the ultimate foodstuff.
Last night I had that experience, and it occurred more than once, when tasting the Te Mata range - a highly lauded set of wines, from top shelf vintages, that are crafted in a dry, intense, aromatic, structured style that I find, quite simply, find exciting. The sort of wines that you can simply drink, but simultaneously break out in fits of rapture about how f**king good it is.
As you can see below, the highlights, as per usual with me, are the Bordeaux styles, with the Syrah's sitting in relative mediocrity. I concluded that this situation is probably due to my personal preferences & tastes, and as such the scores below should be adapted according to whether you call yourself a Syrah or Cabernet man/woman.
Regardless of your tastes, the Awatea and the Coleraine below are incredibly worthy, high quality wines that are easily comparable to those of well regarded Bordeaux producers, at a smidgen of the price. Buy with confidence.
Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($33)
A fully barrel fermented style, I must admit to a certain bias here - I love this style. Cleverly oaked Sauv & blends appeal as the near ideal palate cleansing white, combining texture with dryness and coupled with real aromatic zing.
This suitably won me over then from the nose alone, sitting comfortably with all the characteristics that appeal to me. Lemon, cream, green, herbal, fennel like aromas and even a touch of spinach on the nose, its herbaceous, yet also hinting at generosity, straddling greeness and the just enough roundness on the edges. Simply put, its a spot on nose, full of aromatic x factor, with all sorts of interesting herbal nuances & enough hidden to beguile.
The palate simply reinforced the nose, with a sour, long & structured style that was highlighted by touches of dry, super fine vanilla oak. It all finishes with vanilla etched, rocky dryness, the punch of cool Savvy signing it all off. Complex and a near perfect, dry, clean white, I found this to be truly excellent stuff. 18.7
Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2007 ($22)
A step down in the range and it felt like quite a big step down in absolute quality. Very green in colour, this has a quite fat and spicy oak nose, matched to a rich nougatty palate that is generous but just a little too obvious. The whole package is carried by an edge of high quality winemaking which bumped the score up, but otherwise this remains as a simply good (and excellent value) Chardonnay. 17-
Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2005 ($22)
The only hiccup in the range. Somewhat of a tired nose, advanced & smoky (and opened by Peter himself, so I doubt it was a bad bottle) this tasted cheap & a little thin, with its best days well behind it. Dry, ungenerous palate helps very little. 15.8-
Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2007 ($48)
Obviously far too young, I couldn't really see the appeal here, and I'm sure I have liked it much more in previous vintages. Needs some time to settle me thinks. Perfumed, aromatic Syrah nose. Quite big vanillan oak muscling in on their too. Closed, grainy palate with quite long tannins, but little too love. Just a little unwieldy at present. Leave it alone. 17+
Te Mata Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($40)
Brilliant. The first sniff is just Cabernet blend glory - all currants and blackberries, the aromas of dark little berries with thick skins, just full of concentrated perfume, including nuances of leather, mens aftershave and voilets - all the classic Cabernet tickboxes. Its an opulent nose, that simply smells... absolutely perfect. I often find the Awatea more appealing on release, with this aromatic wine definitely the more easily seductive drink on the night.
The palate then is suitably dry, with cloves, spice & black fruit, the tannins drying the whole palate down, reminding not to get too carried away just yet, for the best is yet to come. It tastes long, lean, balanced and perfectly right, everything in its right place. Beautiful wine, I'd drink this whilst you wait for the wine below to mature, but with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the ride. 18.7
Te Mata Coleraine Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($80)
Giving depth new meaning, this dry, powerful red is, quite simply, a stunning wine. If I had a child born in 07, I would be eagerly stashing a case of this in the cellar to drink over the next 25 years - its simply that good. After the quite open Awatea this was almost a rude shock in its dry, razor sharp, graphite, rocks and black leafy fruit nose, smelling deep, dark and endless, like a big black pit with no bottom in site. The palate is so tannic, yet at the same time so perfectly generous, that it had me thinking of Barossan reds - like a Barossan Cabernet actually, with that almost limitless intensity and extract, but built in a style more akin to Margaret River in its balance and restraint.
Ultimately, its a muscular, beautiful, near perfect Bordeaux blend that would easily compete with many similar Bordeaux reds at far more inflated prices and seeminly buily to live for eternity. I would happily drink it by the magnum load.
Just buy some. All cool climate Cabernet fans should. 19
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