A Tasting of Te Whau Wines

August 2019

In early August I had the opportunity to taste a mini vertical of the Bordeaux style blends produced by Te Whau vineyard on Waiheke Island. They produced their last vintage in 2015 and the property was sold in 2017. The vineyard is currently leased by another Waiheke wine maker.

This tasting confirmed my opinion that Te Whau had produced some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blends on Waiheke if not in New Zealand. It also showed how close these wines are in style to those found on the left bank of Bordeaux.

We started with the 2015 Te Whau Chardonnay which again is a wine style that this producer had mastered. It still had plenty of life (5 plus years more) and was complex and beautifully balanced.

The first red was from a magnum of 2002 Double Barrel Merlot. I had never tried this wine and was pleasantly surprised how well this had aged and how complex it was. 100% Merlot is not that common on Waiheke but this is a good example of how it can produce an excellent wine without any extra help from other varietals.

We then moved on to a range of their flagship wine called The Point, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc blend. All were from 750ml bottles.

2015 – a young wine with plenty of life ahead of it. It was a good vintage and I think that it will develop into very nice wine over time.

2014 – very Cabernet Sauvignon dominant at present not unlike a lot of the best wines from this vintage here on the island. It will soften at some stage and it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

2013 – before this tasting started, I expected this to be the top wine of the day but it seemed to be in a quiet period in its’ development. It has all the right ingredients and will be great in another 5 plus years with heaps of time to go after that.

2012 – this year is always an interesting one for Waiheke reds with a period of Indian summer that rescued the vintage. Right now, this is a lovely wine that was better than I remembered when I tasted it as a young wine.

2010 – a huge and complex wine that was of course not a surprise given the vintage was exceptional. This still needs more time as it is a lot more muscular than all of the other wines but it will be fantastic in five years or more.

2009 – this was a pleasant surprise because the vintage was not as good as the vintages before or after. This was beautiful right now with a plenty of good years ahead of it if you want to keep it longer.

2008 – another great vintage on Waiheke and for me right now it was the star wine of the tasting. It was concentrated, fragrant, silky, and long. There is no hurry to drink it and it was really sad to finish my sample!