Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

The annual late summer release of the Te Mata whites,  and the Hawkes Bay / Bordeaux blends Awatea and Coleraine,  is an eagerly-awaited event in the wine year.  Most years Bullnose Syrah is released in Spring,  but this year it is in the bunch too.  I say eagerly-awaited,  because Te Mata Estate has achieved one of the highest winery profiles in New Zealand.  This has resulted from two things:  firstly in contradistinction to many New Zealand wineries,  the proprietors knew and understood intimately and from the outset the winestyles they aimed to make.  And their tasting experience was enviable,  and has been constantly honed since – again a factor differentiating them from many.  Secondly they have promoted their wines with a rare degree of commitment and passion,  sometimes almost to a fault.  As a consequence,  their top cabernet / merlot blend,  Coleraine,  has for many years been arguably the highest-profile New Zealand red wine both within New Zealand,  and overseas.  Others challenge it now,  including even a couple of pinot noir producers,  but it is still right up there.

From the consumers' point of view,  this is not all an advantage.  In the first instance,  once wineries achieve this sort of prominence,  the prices are higher.  But even so,  Te Mata is no longer the price leader.  More importantly for the consumer,  since the wines are relatively expensive,  there is a critical need for the consumer to be well-informed as to what the wine in fact tastes like,  each year,  how they rate,  and whether they are worth investing in.  This is where the problems lie.  The average of New Zealand winewriting is so uncritical,  lacking an external frame of reference,  and credulous,  that many winewriters do not in fact review the wine in the glass:  they review the label.  And the expectations for the label.  All too often therefore,  consumers are mislead,  simply because in a temperate climate,  nearly every season is different,  and the seasonal variation is marked.  As in France,  not all years are vintage years.  But not infrequently,  it is hard to be aware of this,  when you read some of the New Zealand reviews of Te Mata wines.

Te Mata themselves are in some ways helpful in this regard.  For Coleraine,  they simply do not release the wine in years where a certain standard cannot be achieved.  Many winemakers want us to believe that 2014 in Hawkes Bay is every bit as good as 2013,  to help move the current vintage.  The jury is still out on this one,  but for my part,  I incline to the view that 2014 is fractionally cooler than 2013 in terms of some nett achieved grape aromas and flavour profiles,  irrespective of the climatic data.  It is therefore a great chardonnay year,  and perhaps a great syrah and merlot year,  but for many people,  not such a perfect cabernet sauvignon year.  

Generalisations like this are very difficult,  because 2013 did not meet with universal approval  either.  Craggy Range for example did not make their top cabernet-led wine,  The Quarry.  Yet others achieved magnificent ripeness in their cabernet sauvignon,  so there is a bit of a mystery there.  It will be of particular interest to assess the wines of the two vintages 2013 and 2014,  for many years to come.  There are certainly great red wines from each vintage,  in Hawkes Bay.

For this year's Te Mata release,  the firm has been particularly conscientious.  After the whites,  the format for the tasting was side by side comparison of the two vintages 2013 and 2014,  for Syrah Bullnose,  Cabernet / Merlot Awatea,  and Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine.  The customers could decide for themselves which was better.  This was great,  and in fact very demanding.  One had to taste very carefully indeed,  and not be fooled by notions that (for example) a darker wine is automatically better than a lighter one.  

For my subsequent re-examinations,  I was able to set up a blind tasting with the Forrest wines,  and also have duplicates.  Both moves are designed to put the taster on guard,  and be more analytical.  Then a few days later,  the 2014 Kumeu River chardonnays became available.  The Te Mata and Kumeu River winemakers have between them put more critical thought into chardonnay than pretty well anybody in New Zealand,  so comparing their wines was a heaven-sent opportunity.


2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Coddington Vineyard
2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate
2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill Vineyard
2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Maté's Wineyard
2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Village
2015  Rod McDonald Wines Chardonnay One-Off
2014  Te Mata Estate Chardonnay Elston
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2014  Te Mata Estate Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest
2015  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Estate Vineyards
Pinot Gris
2014  Te Mata Estate Viognier Zara
Sweet / Sticky
 All other white wines, blends, etc.
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2013  Forrest Cabernet Sauvignon John Forrest Collection
2014  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Awatea
2013  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Awatea
2014  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine
2013  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
Syrah = Shiraz
2013  Forrest Syrah John Forrest Collection
2014  Te Mata Estate Syrah Bullnose
2013  Te Mata Estate Syrah Bullnose
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
All other red wines, blends etc
From the Cellar. Older wines.

[ Link to the article on the prospects for viognier in New Zealand,  cited below in the Zara Viognier review.]

2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Maté's Wineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $69   [ screwcap;  mendoza the dominant clone in Maté's,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel usually 20% new but varies;  2014 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay;  Maté's is the oldest vineyard,  re-planted in 1990,  but the mendoza now showing some virus;  RS nil;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemon with almost a green wash,  remarkable.  Bouquet is more clearly mendoza in contrast to the other Kumeu River wines,  with clear yellow stonefruit / golden queen peach qualities.  It smells taut and youthful,  firmer than 2014 Te Mata Elston,  but the mendoza character links them and invites comparison.  Palate is firm,  the richest fruit of the five Kumeu chardonnays (but they are all understated),  neat and unobtrusive oak,  yellow stonefruits again,  slight hessian / mealy oak and clear barrel-ferment characters yet to fully assimilate,  with finegrain acid lengthening the flavour remarkably.  Against Elston it seems the wine of a cooler climate,  a tauter wine which will take longer to unfold and blossom.  Though somewhat different in flavour and style,   the two wines are closely matched in quality.  They thus illustrate the diversity in New Zealand mendoza-led chardonnays admirably,  and together make fine ambassadors for this variety and this clone in New Zealand.  Noteworthy that mendoza also makes West Australia's finest chardonnay,  under the local name gin gin.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Te Mata Estate Chardonnay Elston   18 ½ +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ 45 mm supercritical cork (Diam);  Ch 100%,  85% clone mendoza,  hand-harvested;  all BF with significant new oak;  100% MLF;  11 months in barrel,  with lees work;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Lemon straw.  Initially opened the wine is a bit confused and oaky,  but it quickly opens up to a quite strikingly floral and fragrant mendoza-based example of this noble grape.  There are almost orange-blossom notes on yellow stone fruits,  more golden queen peaches than apricots.  It has some similarities to the Zara Viognier,  but can be told from it by the greater apparent barrel fermentation / new oak component on bouquet.  The oak follows through a little noticeably at this stage onto palate,  and interacts with the acid to give a little youthful edginess.  This will mellow out in cellar.  Otherwise the wine has beautiful varietal definition,  good but not great weight,  and a clarity to the MLF component which some earlier Elstons lacked,  being faintly milky.  In three years this will be benchmark Hawkes Bay chardonnay,  scoring a little higher still.  And congratulations to the winemakers for not succumbing to / indulging in the ugly reductive fad which bedevils so many current chardonnays.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill Vineyard   18 ½  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14%;  $49   [ screwcap;  clone 15 predominates in Hunting Hill but a mix,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel usually 20% new but varies;  2014 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay;  RS nil;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemon,  fractionally the palest of the Kumeu River chardonnays.  Bouquet is distinctive on the Hunting Hill wine this year,  more clearly floral than the other chardonnays,  hints of common honeysuckle and white flowers,  on white stonefruits with an oatmeal and hessian undertone,  like Maté's awaiting assimilation.  Palate is slightly more 'mineral' and less rich than Maté's,  with suggestions of citrus / grapefruit in the white stonefruits.  You can see why Paul Brajkovich in speaking to the wine,  mentioned that London tasters saw Puligny qualities in it.  It really needs two more years to smooth out,  develop some mealyness,  and be as accessible as Maté's is,  but the fruit richness is there.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate   18  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  clone 15 predominates but more of a mix than Coddington or Hunting Hill,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel some new but mostly 1-year for the Estate;  2014 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay,  and in this vintage,  combined volume with quality – c.5,500 cases;   RS nil;  this wine and / or Maté's are the first two chardonnays to convince America that New Zealand can make international-calibre examples of this variety;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemon with a wash of straw.  Bouquet in this wine is tiptoeing towards a more reductive chardonnay style,  hints of gunsmoke,  fresh-cracked greywacke and so forth,  but it is within bounds.  The first reaction therefore is to double-check to see how severe this negative character is.  Nett richness and ripeness in mouth is better than Coddington,  there clearly being the fruit and freshness to assimilate the 'minerality' with a couple of years in cellar,  though that character will always leave a slight flinty edge.  The Estate is actually quite rich,  and unlike Coddington or Hunting Hill you feel there is more clone mendoza adding yellow stonefruit notes and complexity to the potentially mealy finish.  I ended up liking this more than Coddington,  once past the bouquet.  It just needs two years in cellar to smooth out and integrate.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  possibly 15.  GK 03/16

2015  Rod McDonald Wines Chardonnay One-Off    17 ½ +  ()
Maraekakaho & Bridge Pa,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $32   [ screwcap;  Ch 100%,  clones 15 & 95;  BF 100% in mostly Hungarian oak;  100% MLF;  9 months in barrel,  with lees work;  <2 g/L RS;  www.rmwines.co.nz ]
Good lemon,  a little paler than Elston.  This wine also shows a little barrel-reduction character,  but it too is within bounds.  Mingled with the char,  cracked stone and oak are quite citrussy and nearly grapefruit characters.  Palate shows good fruit weight,  the fruit tasting remarkably mendoza-like in its yellow stonefruit flavours (but its not mendoza,  apparently),  the oak not as subtle as Elston,  but the whole wine reasonably well balanced even so.  This too needs three years to marry up and become smoother,  and will cellar  5 – 12 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Coddington Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $49   [ screwcap;  clone 15 predominates but a mix,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel usually 20% new but varies;  2014 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay;  RS nil;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemon with a wash of straw.  The first bouquet impression is of a chardonnay in the current-fad reductive style,  rather masking varietal subtlety.  But on closer inspection and taste,  this character should be assimilated into the white stonefruit flavours in two or three years.  Palate seems not quite as rich as Hunting Hill or the Estate wine,  so the acid shows a little more.  The oak-related hessian and barrel-ferment mealy characters have yet to integrate.  Finish therefore seems leaner,  but the wine will marry up with three more years in bottle.   Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Kumeu River Chardonnay Village   16 ½  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  mostly clones 6 & 15;  whole-bunch pressed;  wild-yeast fermentation,  mostly s/s ferment and lees contact,  a small percentage fermented in old barrels;  100% MLF,  c.8 months LA;  RS nil;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Straw,  the most coloured of the five Kumeu River chardonnays in 2014.  Initial bouquet on this chardonnay is clearly reductive,  masking the beauty of chardonnay the grape.  Flavours in mouth are mostly white stonefruits,  but the whole wine is markedly smaller,  leaner,  and more 'mineral' than the other four chardonnays.  Thus both acid and oak are more apparent,  and the reduction leans off the nett impression even further.  Presumably odd sulky barrels of the top wines end up in here,  too.  It will be more mellow in two years,  but it is doubtful people buy this wine to cellar it.  Being made with all the skill that goes into the top wines,  it will in fact cellar 3 – 8 years,  and be much better for it.  GK 03/16

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2014  Te Mata Estate Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest   18 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $31   [ 45 mm supercritical cork (Diam);  SB 87%,  Se 10,  SG 3;  hand-harvested;  all BF with significant new oak;  little or no MLF,  but much lees work and stirring,  8 months in barrel,  then further marrying-up in tank before bottling;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Elegant lemon green.  This is the most outspoken wine in the present Te Mata batch offered for tasting,  reds or whites.  The interaction between ripe Hawkes Bay sauvignon and a complete barrel-ferment including considerable new oak for this wine gives a quite strident bouquet,  with an unusual pungent fruit quality to it when young.  I have previously compared this aroma with Castrol GTX.  In the intervening years,  Castrol's feedstock has changed,  and GTX now is milder (also correlated probably with lower total sulphurs),  whereas this 2014 Cape Crest is absolutely full-on.  In mouth the first thing to strike you is the palate weight.  Both this wine and  Zara make one think that Te Mata have consciously reduced their cropping rate,  to up the ripeness,  mouthfeel,  dry extract and quality.  This wine has tactile dry extract.  The flavours centre round white stonefruit and sweet basil.  Cape Crest is unashamedly modelled on famous white Medocs and Graves wines,  where the sauvignon blanc-led barrel-fermented whites may be higher-priced than the chateau's famous reds.  On that analogy,  this should be a $100 bottle.  Like Elston it needs three (or more) years to harmonise,  and may not initially appeal,  on bouquet.  The high score therefore includes an anticipatory component,  rewarding the richness particularly.  It will cellar just as long as Elston,  and maybe longer,  for those not trapped in the conventional wisdom of New Zealand views on sauvignon blanc.  GK 03/16

2015  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Estate Vineyards   18  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle & Woodthorpe,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $22   [ screwcap;  SB virtually 100%,  all s/s-fermented;  3 months on lees;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Light lemon.  Bouquet is immediately sweet ripe sauvignon,  ripened to the white nectarine and  black passionfruit level of ripeness,  yet still retaining a slight sweet-basil freshness and tang.  It is therefore highly varietal,  in a riper phase than most Marlborough examples,  but not totally removed from the ripest of them.  Palate is richer than I remember this wine in the past,  a beautiful balance of fruit to refreshing phenolics,  a long juicy finish yet 'dry'.  This is very good straightforward Hawkes Bay sauvignon,  to cellar several years.  GK 03/16

2014  Te Mata Estate Viognier Zara    18 ½ +  ()
Woodthorpe,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $31   [ 45 mm supercritical cork (Diam);  all BF in mostly older oak;  nearly complete MLF;  <6 months in barrel,  with lees work;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Elegant lemon,  faintly greener than Elston Chardonnay.  Bouquet is strikingly sweet,  floral and  ripe,  redolent of wild-ginger blossom (one of the most beautifully fragrant flowers in the garden,   even if you're not supposed to grow it now),  yet with lovely yellow fruit behind the florals.  Palate follows on delightfully,  and is immediately a great step up on any Te Mata Viognier preceding it.   Not only is it varietally accurate in flavour,  fresh Otago apricots and that ginger blossom again,  but it has texture,  mouthfeel and presence.  In 2007 I used the then current Te Mata Viognier among others to publish a review (10 Aug. 2007,  link given above,  below the index to the wine reviews) about viognier in New Zealand,  and said Hawkes Bay is ideally suited to this grape.  I went on to say if New Zealand viognier is to match international models for the grape,  it needs more ripeness (for accurate varietal character) and the use of the malolactic fermentation to achieve body and mouthfeel.  At that stage the Te Mata wine had very little or no MLF,  and rated poorly.  The great news for this 2014 wine is that there is almost total MLF,  and the wine is transformed.   Coupled with its varietal accuracy and palate weight,  the oak handling is sublime,  with full barrel-fermentation but very little new oak.  In sum,  this is among the best viogniers so far made in New Zealand.  It is not dramatically varietal,  as the best Condrieu may be,  but neither is it overtly oaky,  as some of the top Guigal Condrieu wines (for example) are.  And it is infinitely more subtle,  fragrant and tender than any Australian example of the grape.  Why the public do not love this fragrant and satisfying grape,  which matches so many complex fish meals so perfectly,  is a mystery to me.  I guess they are in the once-bitten,  twice shy category,  having been put off by the many variously-insipid examples on the New Zealand market made by producers in inappropriate parts of the country,  who mostly seem to have no grasp whatsoever of what the grape should taste like.  Stick to Hawkes Bay and Waiheke Island examples is my advice (and even the latter is inconsistent),  but for a real treat,  buy this Te Mata 2014 wine.  Cellar 1 – 3 years,  only.  GK 03/16

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2013  Forrest Cabernet Sauvignon John Forrest Collection   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $64   [ screwcap;  DFB;  CS 100,  hand-harvested @ 2.8 - 4.3 t/ha ( 1.1 - 1.7 t/ac;  French oak 33% new;  coarse-filtered only;  RS nil;  200 cases;  not on website yet;   www.forrest.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the deepest reds.  Bouquet is sensational,  not quite as floral as the 2013 Te Mata Coleraine,  but even more dramatically cassis-led and aromatic cabernet-dominant Medoc-styled red,  though with the faintest hint of pennyroyal.  It shows stunning purity and ripeness,  and again,  compared with earlier Forrest Collection wines,  more restraint in oak handling.  Berry dominates totally.  Palate adds blackberries-in-the-sun flavours,  and now a little more new oak than ideal,  giving a wine of fractionally greater richness and ripeness than 2013 Coleraine,  but not quite the magic interplay of complex aromas and flavours that Coleraine displays.  Both wines are great illustrations of how clearly we can emulate fine Bordeaux,  in  Hawkes Bay.  This wine is just a baby.  It will cellar even longer than 2013 Coleraine,  15 – 30  years.  GK 03/16

2013  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine   18 ½  ()
Havelock Hills,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $90   [ cork 50mm;  hand-harvested CS 56%,  Me 30,  CF 14;  extended cuvaison;  average vine age 25 + years;  18 months in French oak c.75% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper reds.  Bouquet shows a beautiful dusky nearly sweet floral quality which in its intensity is rare either in Bordeaux or New Zealand.  It bespeaks a commitment to classical Bordeaux styling before the American-led fashion for size and over-ripeness in red wines led inexorably to loss of grape-derived bouquet volume and quality.  Florality in red wines is simply lost with over-ripening,  as many Australian reds confirm.  As to the quality of this beautiful aroma,  it is somewhere in the darkest red roses / port-wine magnolia / violets sector,  quite haunting.  In mouth you almost feel this is a merlot-led wine:  there is a dark plummy quality to the berry which is very Saint-Emilion,  but it is given sparkle by both cassis from the cabernet,  the persistence of florals right into the palate,  and then the subtle oak.  It is not a big wine,  and in its flavours one could think just a little more ripeness is needed,  but then the bouquet would be less.  It has come together beautifully since I reviewed it last year.  Nobody will regret having this Coleraine in their cellar.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine   18  ()
Havelock Hills,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $110   [ cork 50mm;  hand-harvested CS 60%,  Me 28,  CF 12;  extended cuvaison;  average vine age 25 + years;  17 months in French oak c.75% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  fractionally deeper than 2013 Coleraine,  one of the deeper wines.  Te Mata honourably set the tasting up to invite comparison between the 2013 and 2014 editions.  Both wines are wonderfully floral,  as expanded on for the 2013.  The 2014 is not quite so enchantingly sweet in its florals though,  there being the faintest hint of leaf in the aroma.  That attribute carries through to the palate,  so whereas the 2013 now seems 'ripe',  the 2014 is fractionally crisper,  more aromatic,  and cooler.  There is still exemplary cassisy berry,  and the subtle oak handling for which Te Mata is famous.  I concede I thought 2013 Coleraine fractionally under-ripe last year,  and it has sweetened / fattened up / jumped the hurdle in the intervening year.  Will the 2014 achieve that feat also ?  The similarity of achievement in the two wines for the two years is remarkable,  in marked contrast to Awatea.  The selection for 2014 Coleraine must have been searching in the extreme,  since 2014 does not seem to be quite such a cabernet year.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 03/16

2013  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Awatea   17 ½ +  ()
Havelock North district mostly,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $36   [ cork 50mm;  CS 40%,  Me 39%,  CF 16,  PV 5,  hand-harvested;  c.15 months in French oak c.40% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  in the middle for depth.  Bouquet shares much of the complexity that Coleraine displays,  but it is a little simpler in its floral component and more cassis-led,  with not quite the enchanting dusky complexity.  Purity and classical bordeaux style are to the forefront,  though.  Palate is clearly lighter than 2013 Coleraine,  yet the achieved ripeness in the cassis and plum fruit is good.  It has markedly more to say for itself this year,  compared with last.  The comparison of 2013 Awatea and 2014 Coleraine is demanding in the extreme.  My nett impression is 2014 Coleraine is fractionally richer,  but 2013 Awatea is fractionally riper.  2013 Awatea matches many cru bourgeois,  and offers much of the style and taste of Coleraine for a third the price.  It has to be great value,  therefore.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Te Mata Estate Cabernet / Merlot Awatea   16 ½ +  ()
Havelock North district mostly,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $37   [ cork 50mm;  CS 45%,  Me 33%,  CF 14,  PV 8,  hand-harvested;  c.16 months in French oak c.40% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is intriguing,  showing a clear suggestion of methoxypyrazine / red capsicum,  and thus contrasting vividly with the quality achieved in 2014 Coleraine.  But otherwise,  there is an elegant cassis-led quality of aromatic cabernet bouquet,  plus the subtlety of oak-handling that Te Mata brings to all its wines.  Smelling 2014 Awatea against the 2013 wine is an object lesson in cabernet ripeness:  this will be great for teaching purposes.  In actual palate terms,  the wine is surprisingly gentle,  good berry in a lightweight way,  not as stalky as the bouquet suggests,  at all.  Some sophisticated phenolics management here,  I suspect.  It is just a cooler-year wine,  in nett achievement again suggesting that 2014 is a lesser cabernet year than 2013.  Or … is this the relatively high percentage of petit verdot speaking,  in the same way Pichon-Lalande used to be adversely affected in some years by its (formerly) high ratio of this hard-to-ripen grape ?  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 03/16

Syrah = Shiraz
2013  Forrest Syrah John Forrest Collection   19  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $64   [ screwcap;  grown on the Cornerstone vineyard,  hand-picked @ ± 4.0 - 5.8 t/ha = 1.6 - 2.4 t/ac;  RS nil;  100 cases;  not on website yet;  RS nil;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  the deepest colour in the set.  One sniff of the bouquet,  and this is great syrah.  It is not as floral as 2013 Bullnose,  but it is even richer.  The clarity of the cassis-led berry and darkest bottled black-doris plum fruit is straight out of Hermitage.  Bouquet is complexed by black pepper and oak,  but unlike many earlier iterations of the Forrest Collection wines,  the oaking is within bounds,  just,  even by  European standards.  Palate is aromatic and vibrant on both berry and oak,  nearly succulent in its depth and length,  simply a superb statement about syrah in New Zealand.  Buy as much of this wine as you can afford,  and hide it away for five years,  to marry up.  It will cellar for 15 – 25  years.  GK 03/16

2013  Te Mata Estate Syrah Bullnose   18 ½ +  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $50   [ cork 45mm;  3 clones of syrah hand-harvested,  100% de-stemmed;  extended cuvaison;  15 months in French oak,  around 35% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  above midway in the set,  but not as dark as some.  That's OK for syrah:  Cote Rotie does not have to be deep to be good (as for red burgundy / pinot noir).  One sniff,  and the interplay of carnations-like and deepest red-rose florals and black pepper is enchanting,  on beautifully aromatic cassis.  Because of the black pepper spice,  it is a totally different kind of cassis to a cabernet-led wine,  but cassis it is,  supported by bottled omega plums.  Alongside the Forrest Collection Syrah,  Bullnose is Cote Rotie to the Forrest Hermitage,  a little softer and more sensuous and more charming.  As with Coleraine,  this probably reflects the Te Mata preoccupation with classical qualities such as florality in the wine,  and hence fractionally earlier picking,  than many practise.  Last year I thought 2013 Bullnose clearly outpointed 2013 Coleraine.  Now they are much more a matched pair,  reflecting the fact that temperate-climate Bordeaux blends take a while to come together.  Cellar this Bullnose 5 – 20 years.  GK 03/16

2014  Te Mata Estate Syrah Bullnose   17 ½ +  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $50   [ cork 45mm;  3 clones of syrah hand-harvested,  100% de-stemmed;  extended cuvaison;  15 months in French oak usually around 35% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  deeper than 2013 Bullnose.  Then the bouquet comes as a shock,  for though deeper in colour,  the fruit is nearly as floral but clearly less ripe.  This is a textbook white pepper varietal syrah,  contrasting vividly with the black pepper in the 2013.  Palate is therefore even more aromatic and a little crisper than the 2013,  with white pepper right through the cassis-dominant fruit.  As with all Bullnoses,  oak handling is superb.  Actual concentration of fruit,  and cellar-worthiness of the two wines,  is nearly level pegging.  The two wines thus illustrate the two main phases of syrah varietal expression beautifully,  but I have to note that many tasters are less keen on the white pepper / less ripe phase.  Interesting to note the sensory impressions in the two wines are the exact opposite of the pH indications – a hard parameter to taste for.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/16