Te Whare Ra | Tasting Review | September 2019

This year celebrates 40 years of Te Whare Ra. Established by Allen and Joyce Hogan at Renwick in 1979, Te Whare Ra was one of the early Marlborough wineries.

Jason and Anna Flowerday purchased the vineyard and winery in 2003 and set about making improvements and giving the tired site some love, including retaining and revitalising many of the original plantings. Their enthusiasm, passion and skill has seen TWR become one of the region’s top boutique producers. A fact recognised when Raymond Chan awarded them the “Winery of the Year” in 2014.

A move was made to organics in 2007 following bio-dynamic principles, gaining full Bio Gro organic certification in 2012. Fruit is mostly sourced from the 11ha home vineyard which are labelled ‘Single Vineyard 5182’, referring to the vineyard number assigned by BioGro New Zealand. Fruit is also selected from other organic sites including the Clayvin.

One of the biggest surprises for many at the tasting was the quality of the Pinot Noirs. Whilst most were aware of the quality of the white wines the Pinot Noirs were a revelation.

Anna is a great communicator and as a mother of 2 sets of twin girls, is a great example of “when you want something done, ask a busy person’. Her involvement in many aspects of the wine industry extends well beyond the vineyard and winery. The wines she and Jason produce are uniformly excellent. Te Whare Ra is well set up for another 40 years.

“Our philosophy is wholly centered on making seriously good wine. We like wines to express their place – to speak of a somewhere-ness rather than of a same-ness, we want you to be able to taste this in our wines.” Anna & Jason Flowerday

Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Fruit from 3 vineyards in two different sub-regions of Marlborough. Two of the vineyards are in the upper Awatere Valley – Trelawne Farm and Shamrock, and the third is the home block.

‘Good weight & texture. Punchy passionfruit with lovely acidity and good length. Top effort in the vintage’.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 ‘D’ Riesling Dry 2017

From the original vines planted in 1979. Anna came from the Clare Valley so has a passion for dry Rieslings and this is truly dry at just 3gms rs.

‘Flavours of freshly squeezed lime with purity of flavour. Pithy & fleshy. Very drinkable style. Delicious’.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 ‘M’ Riesling Medium 2018

Mainly younger vines with some fruit from the old vines, made in a medium style with 26gms rs

‘Lovely balance of pithiness and sweetness. Again good palate weight and drive from acidity. Pure and crisp with lime and mandarin juice flavours and a hint of salinity’.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 Pinot Gris 2018

Small time on skins with around 40% fermented in really old oak – for texture rather than any oakiness.

‘There’s some richness and weight here with a hint of reduction. Ripe style with some alcohol warmth, but overall very well balanced’.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 Toru 2018

Te Whare Ra pioneered this style in New Zealand over 12 years ago. A co-fermented field blend of Gewürztraminer 75%, Riesling 16%, Pinot Gris 9%. As Anna explained, they wanted ‘a wine that displayed the essence of all three varieties, whilst creating a distinctive and interesting wine in its own right. It has the aromatic spice and weight of Gewürztraminer, the structure and length of Riesling, and the great texture of Pinot Gris’.

The components work well together with flavours of mango, peach, apricot, apple blossom with a sliver of sweetness (7gms rs) and a creamy slippery texture.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 Gewürztraminer 2017

Planted in 1979, these are from probably the oldest Gewürztraminer vines in New Zealand and has long been one of New Zealand’s top examples.

‘The wine exudes the abundant floral fruit aromas of rose water, lychee, ginger and spice. Given up to 36 hours on skins, this has some presence on the palate. The balance between sweetness, acidity and alcohol is really good. An excellent example of NZ Gewürztraminer’.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 Chardonnay 2018

A big portion of this wine is made from the original Mendoza clone Chardonnay vines planted in 1979. The balance is from Clone 6 planted in the 1980s. Fermented in ⅓ new, large format oak.

‘Lovely poise. Classic style. Fresh with balanced acidity and only a hint of creamy malo-lactic. Mainly citrus and grapefruit flavours. A balanced and beautiful wine with solid length’.

Te Whare Ra Pinot Noir 2015

Fruit from the ‘Home Block’ and the ‘Rawiri’ vineyards in the Omaka Valley, hand-picked and hand-sorted, fermented with a small portion of whole bunches, the wine spending 14 days on skins post ferment and aged 11 months in 30% new French oak.

‘Rich and brooding style. Amazingly fine tannins with cherry and dark raspberry – a touch of gamey elements. Exotic layers of spice. Savoury, balanced and long. Fantastic’.

Te Whare Ra SV 5182 Pinot Noir 2014

Fruit sourced from entirely the Home Block, made in the same manner as the 2015.

‘Oh wow – seriously good. Savoury fine tannins with a touch of secondary characters. There’s sweet ripe fruits with cherry spice; brooding dark gamey characters. Structured and serious with generosity’.

Te Whare Ra Clayvin SV 5096 Pinot Noir 2016

From the iconic Clayvin vineyard, which is also organically managed. The vineyard owners Giesens share fruit with Te Whare Ra to enable another quality producer express this special site. Only 65 cases made.

‘Tension and poise. All spice. Ripe fine tannins, cherry, fragrant, stunning! All the elements of great Pinot Noir. Texture and balance. Again… Wow!’