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Wine Review

Te Mata Showcase - The 2009 Coleraine

Te Mata Showcase – presented by Regional Wines & Spirits

By Anto Coates

*NB: to order the 2009 reds today, simply send an email to Anto Coates or Al Morris or ring 04 385 6952. From tomorrow (Friday) you'll be able to order as normal.

This year the drums were beating louder than usual for the 2009 Te Mata Estate reds. We already had an inkling of the vintage’s quality with the outstanding Bullnose Syrah, released last September to enthusiastic reviews, but the vintage cannot be considered a true success until the Awatea and the Coleraine have been appraised.

Te Mata Estate were obviously supremely confident to place the 2009s against the 2007s and the 2005s – both the 07 and 05 vintages were rated as the best ever at the time of their release. 150 people were gathered at the St James Theatre on Courtenay Place to taste the line up, and proceedings began with a glass of Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc on arrival. Then the tasters enjoyed the Zara Viognier, Elston Chardonnay and Bullnose Syrah in an informal setting before moving through to the main hall to taste the Awateas and the Coleraine.

It was a rare pleasure to have Te Mata patriarch John Buck present for the tasting and along with his son Nicholas and technical director Peter Cowley we had every aspect of the wine covered. The format was pretty user-friendly and the tasters were given 10 minutes or so to come to terms with the wines and make some notes, before Peter Cowley spoke about the way he saw the wines. This format works well for assessment as the speaker doesn’t lead the audience into any sales-friendly conclusions and the wines can stand on their own merits.

Some merits they were too… the 2005 Awatea (18.5+/20) was a blood garnet red with a knockout nose that perfectly captured the essence of cabernet, with a hint of damp cedar and forest floor interspersed with blackberries and cassis. The palate was a slight come down, not possessing the sweetness or focus of some of the other wines, but the tannins were firm and the finish fresh, minty and persistent. The 2007 Awatea (19.0/20) was blood red purple with a nose of tobacco and musk, a crisp entry and a sweetly fruited mid-palate of moderate depth. The finish, as across the board was sheer class, insinuating freshly minted money through the crisp acid. The 2009 Awatea (19.5-/20) was a lighter purple red, with raspberries, baked bread and cassis. The hallmark of this wine though was the incredible focus, soft red fruit tannins and blackberries and a long finish. Astonishing value for around $30 and has 10-15 years in it easily.

The 2005 Coleraine (19.5/20) was a brilliant blood garnet red. It had a similar nose to its Awatea brother, but perhaps a touch more complex with some eastern spice thrown in, but had the focus on the palate that the Awatea didn’t. The tannins were soft and delicious and the wine was balanced and long. The 2007 Coleraine (19.5+/20) was a step up – blood and purple, sweetly fruited with a checklist of great aromas and flavours, cassis, cigar box, blackberries…this is about as close to perfect as cabernet gets in this country. I can’t wait to see this in 10 years’ time. The 2009 Coleraine (19.5+/20) is a boysenberry, dark purple colour with even more complexity than the 2007. The nose is perfect and the palate has a new level of flavours not seen in any of the preceding wines: licorice, pepper and spice, to complement the truly classical notes of blackcurrants, bramble and cedar. Extremely tough to separate the 2009 and the 2007 – the 2009 has more complexity but its youth means the 2007 edges it in the glass. Personally I think the 2009 will prove to be the better wine with its incredibly ripe tannins and layers of flavours.

The superb 2009 Hawke’s Bay vintage comes at a great time, considering that the 2009 Bordeaux vintage is being hailed by many as perhaps the greatest ever, rivaling the great vintages of 1947, 1961 and 2005. This symmetry is even more important for Te Mata, given the parallels drawn between Coleraine and the classed wines of Bordeaux, especially communes like Graves. Anyone who was lucky enough to get their hands on the 2009 Bordeauxs would be well advised to put a case of 2009 Coleraine down for the long term to compare the respective potentials of the wines. These 2009s will be important yardsticks in the years to come and could well represent the coming of age of Hawke's Bay as an international wine region.

*NB: to order the 2009 reds today, simply send an email to Anto Coates or Al Morris or ring 04 385 6952. From tomorrow (Friday) you'll be able to order as normal.

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