Te Awa Single Estate Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
“IT’S NOT THE BIGGEST wine in the line up, but nor is it small. What it does have is seamless balance and lovely fine tannins,” noted Sam Harrop. Sensitive winemaking is on display here, especially in regard to ripeness levels. Attractive herbal characters are woven through a bucket of blue and red fruit that has a joyous, brazen quality. A judicious touch of cedary oak adds complexity. It’s a wine that combines boldness with finesse.
BLENDING IN When we spoke to Te Awa winemaker Richard Painter, he was up to his nose in vintage 2018, making wine in Villa Maria’s brand new Hawke’s Bay facility for the first time (Villa being owners of the Te Awa vineyards and brand). The news that his single estate Bordeaux blend had come top of the Cuisine class was well received. “It wasn’t the easiest vintage, but I was pleased with that wine,” he said. “There were no Kidnapper Cliffs (Te Awa’s premium tier) wines that year, so that was our top Bordeaux blend in 2015. The fruit is grown on vines that are now almost 30 years old.” Painter has a soft spot for making this wine style and he also enjoys drinking it; French claret occupies a large proportion of his own cellar. “I particularly like the creativity that comes with blending. 2015 was a little unusual. Malbec replaced cabernet franc as 10% of the blend. The malbec came up trumps that year and gives the wine colour and tannins, as well as spicy peppercorn and dark tea characters. The final proportions were 80% merlot, 10% cabernet sauvignon and 10% malbec.” When asked to supply a food match for our top wine, Painter said he couldn’t go past the match the Te Awa winery restaurant offers: slow- cooked (eight hours) lamb shoulder.Best Buys