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Te Awa Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1999
In 1992 the Lawson family, longtime grape growers, purchased their property on the corner of Ngatarawa Road and State Highway 50 with the express interest of growing premium grapes and making fine wine, especially the Bordeaux varieties. The land, subdivided from the original Longlands station stretches through from Ngatarawa Road to Gimblett Road now recognised as part of the Gimblett Gravels Wine Growing District. The area has the reputation for reaching Summer temperatures far above the Hawke's Bay average and have produced some of New Zealand's most sought after Cabernet, Merlots and Chardonnay wines.
The vineyard itself comprises just 46 hectares. Much of the skill - all of the quality of our wine - comes from a deep understanding of the rich diversity of soils that permeate through this small area. The diversity allows us to make a selection of supreme quality wines - rich in character, complexity, and, above all, sheer enjoyment.
Our philosophy is to achieve balanced wines, reflecting the grapes from which they are made, and having the individuality of our vineyard site - our "terroir". To realise our aim no recipe approach to winemaking is used, as grapes from specific parts of the vineyard have differing potential. To express their character, individual and often unique handling is required.
Each parcel of grapes is fermented separately and constant visual, tactile and tasting assessment throughout the fermentation and maceration are the tools we use when decision making. Having achieved the grapes potential, careful blending is the next stage. We look for a synergistic affect, i.e. when the sum is greater than the individual parts.
A relatively young but extremely promising wine producing country, New Zealand is widely recognized for its distinctive wines made from the aromatic, Sauvignon blanc.
The world’s most southerly vineyards are found here, with significant climatic variation both between and within the warmer North Island and the cooler South Island. Overall, the climate is maritime, with plenty of rainfall, as well as abundant sunshine. Producers have almost unilaterally embraced cutting-edge winery technology, resulting in clean, high-quality wines at every price point from wallet-friendly to premium.
Sauvignon blanc, known here for its trademark herbaceous character, is at its best in Marlborough but thrives throughout the nation, accounting for an overwhelming majority of the country’s exports. While this is indeed the country’s most planted and successful variety, it is certainly not the only New Zealand grape capable of delighting wine lovers.
Chardonnay is the second-most important white variety and takes on a supple texture with citrus and tropical fruit aromas in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, respectively. Pinot noir, second behind Sauvignon blanc in national production numbers, is at its best in Central Otago—the most southerly winegrowing region in the world! These wines are known for bright and juicy red fruit. Taking cues from the wines of Alsace, aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer shine in Martinborough, while red Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have found success in Hawke’s Bay. Throughout New Zealand but especially in Marlborough, Pinot noir and Chardonnay are used to produce traditional method sparkling wines.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.