From south to north, the ver­dict is de­li­cious

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE -

of how that grape grows in that place, and as a farmer I also want to cap­ture that.”

This in­sight can be tasted in his wines. Those la­belled Je­unesse, made from younger vines that tend to pro­duce grapes with plenty of ol­fac­tory stim­u­lus, are pretty and ea­ger to please: the 2014 Je­unesse ries­ling (about $40) is crisp, fresh, cit­russy, de­light­ful; the 2013 Je­unesse pinot noir ($65) is bright, burst­ing with red fruit and a Cam­pari-like edgi­ness.

The wines la­belled Ma­ture Vine, by con­trast, from older blocks in the vine­yard, where the roots of the plants have had longer to dig deep into the schist-rich ter­roir, are less overtly aro­matic but far more ex­pres­sive and com­plex in the mouth. The 2013 Ma­ture Vine ries­ling ($50) sits like a lozenge of pear and white grape flavour on the tongue; the 2012 Ma­ture Vine pinot noir ($80) has a re­mark­able, lin­ger­ing depth of flavour, with brood­ing dark fruit and firm but sup­ple tan­nin.

Up in Hawkes Bay in the North Is­land, Peter Cow­ley has been wine­maker at Te Mata Estate for a quar­ter of its 120-year his­tory.

Te Mata has lovely wines in its range made from grape va­ri­eties that aren’t com­mon in New Zealand: the 2014 Zara Viog­nier ($36) is gen­tly flo­ral, like hon­ey­suckle, quite dif­fer­ent to most pun­gent, fruit-rich Aus­tralian ex­am­ples of this white; the 2015 Gamay Noir ($24) is a gor­geously juicy red that’s so good it makes you won­der why more Kiwi wine­mak­ers don’t plant it; and the 2014 Bull­nose ($53) is as taut, re­fined and spicy an ex­am­ple of New Zealand syrah as you could find.

But as Cow­ley says, “Te Mata has al­ways be­lieved that caber­net and mer­lot are par­tic­u­larly strong in Hawkes Bay — and even though they might be so trendy right now, we’re used to rid­ing waves of pop­u­lar­ity.”

To make his point he pours the reds he makes from these va­ri­eties, and they are stun­ning. The 2014 Te Mata Estate Mer­lot Caber­nets ($25) is won­der­fully el­e­gant, fra­grant and snappy, a great value “claret”; and the 2013 Awa­tea (around $40), a blend of caber­net sauvi­gnon, mer­lot and caber­net franc, is one of the best reds I’ve tried this year: lay­ers of earthy dark fruit, fine bal­ance of in­tense flavour and grippy tan­nin. Su­perb.

rip­pon.co.nz; tem­ata.co.nz

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