When your already much-acclaimed finest wine is deemed to have become a "legend" then you really know you've produced something very, very special.

"We know we've got something very good here but when something like this happens it is pretty exciting," was how Te Mata Estate's sales and marketing executive, Toby Buck, summed up the latest accolade for their flagship Coleraine.

The Coleraine '98 has been dubbed a "Wine Legend" in the latest edition of Britain's top wine magazine, Decanter - the only New Zealand wine to ever receive that title and effectively placing it among the greatest wines of all time.

Mr Buck said the Coleraine had always been "about the place - and the way it is built and put together - this is a Havelock North wine".

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The variety is among the most famous of New Zealand reds and is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc which has been grown and bottled in Hawke's Bay since 1982.

Until 1989 the Coleraine had been a single vineyard wine but from that vintage it was produced from distinct plots within the estate's oldest vineyards across the Havelock hills.

The latest legend, which was initially available for $75 and now easily fetches more than $250 a bottle, joins some outstanding names (and prices accordingly) such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti '78 ($6500), Chateau Haut-Brion '29 ($3500), Chateau Lafite-Rothschild '59 ($3300) and the Ridge Monte Bello '70 ($1200).

Te Mata Estate chief executive Nick Buck said the latest accolade was great recognition for the wine and great news for people who had bought and put away a bottle.

"I'm sure they'll love knowing they've got such a great wine in their cellar," he said.

"Of even greater importance to us is the connection that it gives them - back to the unique people and place that produces such an outstanding wine."

In terms of sales word had clearly got around about the variety with the latest in the line, the Coleraine '13, '14 and '15 all selling out within weeks of release.

Decanter's wine writer Stephen Brook described the Coleraine as "the most avidly collected of New Zealand red wines" and said it was up with the very best Bordeaux blends in the world.

The next addition to the line-up, the Coleraine '16, will be available next March and will mark 120 years of winemaking history at Te Mata Estate.

It derives its name from the Coleraine vineyard, which is the home of John and Wendy Buck of Te Mata Estate.

Mr Buck's late grandfather was born in Coleraine in Northern Ireland and the name has been maintained through the family home to the very special wine.