Part of a family's two-decade-long quest to build a rare collection of one of Hawke's Bay's most renowned wines is to go under the hammer, all to raise money for charity.
Hawke's Bay-based family business Stewart Group has donated a Te Mata Coleraine Vertical of 32 vintages (1982–2016) from their private collection, all due to be auctioned at this year's Hawke's Bay Wine Auction pre-tasting event in October.
Wine connoisseur and Hastings-based financial advisor Nick Stewart said his father Don and mother Mary had "quite a journey" to establish the vertical collection, which includes a bottle from every year since the Te Mata Estate's famed 1982 vintage.
"To collect a vertical of wine over a period of time, is not easy," he said.
"What happens is the winemaker does a different blend year on year to optimise the wine, so some years it may be predominately Merlot, some years it may be predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.
"I started my collection of Coleraine in about 2000 when I first moved back to Hawke's Bay, and to get the vintages going backwards from there, takes time and patience."
Surprisingly, it was not the "great" years that were hard to find, it was the "bad" years.
"A case in point is the 1988 - that was a tough year - whereas the most famous year, which shot Te Mata Estate to fame, the 1982 - is not as hard to find as the '88 because people didn't keep the '88 - they drank it."
It had also been a challenge to ensure that any bottle purchased contained wine that was good enough to be included in the family collection.
"The Stewart Family has been building this vertical for 20 years, through vintage releases from wineries and acquisitions at auctions. All auction acquisitions have been put through Te Mata Estate wine clinic – tested, wine topped, fresh corks and foils and signed by winemaker Peter Cowley.
"So that's how I know that this collection is in pristine form."
He said he had been inspired to donate the vertical for auction, after enjoying the wine auction event last year.
This year, the Hawke's Bay Wine Auction celebrates 27 years with the region's talented winemakers, and contributors providing over 40 lots of wine to the auction.
"It is something we wanted to as a family. My mother was a grief councillor at the hospice and it would be hard to find a family that hasn't been touched in someway by Cranford Hospice. It's a special organisation with special people."
However, it was hard to judge what the collection could fetch come auction time.
"Insuring these things is not just a question of taking the latest sale price at auction because Coleraine price appreciation over the last three years has been very strong."
A single bottle of 1982 sold at auction in Auckland last week for $320 plus auction premium.
"When I started buying it, I could buy in for $80. And for every bottle that's purchased lost or drank - that's one less bottle. Once a vintage is done that's it."
Air New Zealand purchased the last two verticals that came up in auction, the last one in 2016.
"So some corporates like to display them to showcase what they are doing and other people, like myself, have a passion for wine and have always desired to have a vertical of New Zealand's most famous red wine."
He pointed to the 1989 vintage has his personal favourite.
"1989 was magical. I would like to say it was 1982 but it's so darn hard to find that it's not something you want to develop as your favourite because you're not going to be able to have it very often."
He added that the family was not giving up its quest, as the collection had been replicated.
The collection would be displayed at Stewart Group's Office Foyer between July and early October. Bidding on the lot would take place at the now sold-out pre-tasting event in November.
For anyone wishing to see the auction lot Stewart Group is located at 204 Karamu Rd, Hastings. Call 0800 878 961 for assistance.