Plug pulled on flagship NZ wine

By Roger Moroney -
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File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

For the first time in 20 years Te Mata Estate winery at Havelock North has pulled the plug on its flagship wine Coleraine due to the tough 2012 growing vintage.

Coleraine had become widely regarded as New Zealand's finest red wine and was first bottled in 1982 and since then become a sought after collector's line.

But as Te Mata Estate director Nicholas Buck explained, the 2012 season was "challenging" with only 20 per cent of the normal Coleraine volume being produced.

"That left us with a tough decision - what do we do?"

He said a limited run of Coleraine could have been produced but that would have introduced speculative forces when it came to purchasing as the wines were in such demand.

The smaller number would have sold quickly and many people, who were regular annual purchasers of the variety, would have missed out.

"We had to weigh it all up. Do we disappoint some people or do we be fair to everyone?"

So the decision was made to declassify the entire 2012 Coleraine production into the winery's second most recognised red - Awatea.

"It hurts us financially to make that decision and we do not take it lightly - but if it only happens every 20 years we can live with that."

Mr Buck said it was more important to ensure quality and integrity was maintained.

While Coleraine lovers would miss out on a 2012 vintage they would benefit in that due to the non-appearance previous vintages would step up in value.

"And of course our Awatea 2012 customers will be the winners."

The last time Coleraine failed to make it to the shelves and cellars was as result of lower than average summer temperatures in 1991 brought about by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

However, fans of the fine red will be buoyed by news that the 2013 Coleraine was well under way after one of the best vintages in decades.

"Oh yes - there will be a 2013," Mr Buck said.

Of the fledgling 2014 vintage now on the vines Mr Buck said the indications at this stage were it would be plentiful and was looking good.

"Size levels are good and so are bunch numbers," he said.

The warm spring and good moisture had created good bud burst, and indications from across the region's vineyards was that it looked "very promising" Mr Buck said.

-HBT ln

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