Again a packed house attended the annual Te Mata Showcase tasting at the George Hotel. It was great to have the ‘retired’ John Buck return to present the wines, accompanied by his teenaged Grand-daughter Zara – preparing the next generation? The format was slightly different this time around, featuring the estate reds as part of the formal tasting. Of course the anticipated highlight is always the Coleraine and this year is the 35th vintage release, so to celebrate this was served at the end along with a special “Coleraine” chocolate mud cake.

The focus was on the 2015 reds – “the fabulous 15’s”. It was a smaller crop vintage with volumes down on 2013 and 2014 (our Coleraine allocation is down around 20%). The upside of the smaller vintage is the concentration of flavour and this combined with warm weather over the ripening period has given fleshy, accessible but potentially very long lived wines. Even the Estate reds offer a level of concentration not usually seen at this level. But don’t forget the whites – the Elston 2015 is superb as is the Cape Crest.

Te Mata are a winery very much on top of their game with a range of wines that can be called ‘classic’. No vintage comparisons in the tasting this year. These wines stood on their own.

Te Mata Estate Chardonnay 2016 $18.99

A very good vintage in Hawkes Bay equals high quality fruit. Align this with knowledgable winemaking – nothing too clever, letting the fruit shine through with subtle touches of Barrel ferment and Malolactic- and the result is this fresh, fleshly Chardonnay full of Hawkes Bay summer fruit flavours with a hint of lemon curd.

Te Mata Zara Viognier 2016 $25.99

John Buck was accompanied this year by his grand-daughter Zara.. yes the wine was named for her. Te Mata have over 20 years experience with this variety and almost ‘own’ the category here in New Zealand. Dry, savoury, just some apricot, but more citrus and hints of spring flowers and a creaminess from 100% malo-lactic and savouriness from 100% barrel ferment.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $25.99

Barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc (85%) with a touch of Sauvignon Gris (11%) and Semillon (4%). This is a NZ benchmark for the Bordeaux white style of barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc. The 2015 is right on song – fleshy, ripe, juicy.. think nectarines with hints of spice, tropical fruits. A stunning rendition. Age worthy – 10+ years cellaring is possible but reaching its best at around 5+ years.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2015 $33.99

Classic is how I’d best describe this wine. No smoky, funky notes here. Golden fruits, lemon, creme brulee; bold in style, yet restrained by fine acidity. The 2014 was very good; this is even better. Elston Chardonnay holds firm in its place as a top example of Hakes Bay Chardonnay.

Te Mata Estate Merlot Cabernets 2015 $18.99

52% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This tastes ripe and flavoursome, with black and red fruits, hints of chocolate, some nice tannins and enough acidity to balance. More density than usual, this is excellent value.

Te Mata Estate Syrah 2015 $18.99

Co-fermented 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier, with the fruit from the ‘Woodthorpe Terraces’ vineyard and Bridge Pa Triangle. Like the Estate Merlot Cabernets, this is a very good vintage release. Reasonably dense, with black fruits, baking spices and a soft rounded mouthfeel.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2015 $44.99

This 2015 is quite broodish yet sumptuous. I have tried this on several occasions now, for some reason at this tasting it seemed comparatively ‘closed’. It happens. 100% Syrah. Dense, ripe, with a malange of flavours from gamey to sweet. Give this  a year or so before enjoying over the next 6+.

Te Mata Awatea 2015 $33.99

46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc, aged 16 months in 30% new French oak.2015 was a smaller vintage, with the fruit concentration very evident here.  I love Toby Buck’s tasting note – “.. a black tuxedo of wine. Exquisitely tailored, with never a stitch out of place”. There is a lot of fine detail in the wine; a little of this and a little of that, adding up to plenty. This is a very, very good Awatea that will bring pleasure over many years.

Te Mata Coleraine 2015 $115.00

The third great Coleraine in the years. We have been spoilt. This vintage a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Of course everyone asks which is best.. 2013, 2014 or this 2015? I seriously couldn’t answer that. Maybe in the next 10-20 years one may emerge as being longer living, but in the meantime I’d refer to Gary Walsh in the Coleraine (2015) is a beautiful wine, and I’d venture that it’s New Zealand’s Grange equivalent, only it comes from one place, is much cheaper, and to my tastes, is significantly better and more interesting… How wonderful and good is this wine? In short, very. 96+/100″