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Entries in Terra Ignota (11)

Friday
Dec272013

{Terra Ignota}: Te Whare Ra (TWR) Back in Stock!

I am super excited to announce that Te Whare Ra (TWR) one of our favorite direct import properties is now back in stock after much too long of an absence (thank you government shut down).

Te Whare Ra is a real family winery, Jason and Anna have two sets of twin girls!

For those of you that have not seen any of TWR’s wines before here is the scoop: Te Whare Ra is a small organic certified and Biodynamic practicing estate in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. The owners / winemakers Jason and Anna Flowerday bought a section of old vines (planted in 1979) in 2003. After converting the estate over to their strict viticultural practices they have been focusing their efforts on making wines with a powerful sense of place, excellent textural presence and wonderful elegant poise. All of their wines are small production and are lovingly hand-crafted. The 2012 Pinot noir is a 300 case production, the Chardonnay for 2012, just 90 cases! We are incredibly lucky to be working with these folks and I really hope people will try out their remarkable range of wines. They have all become true staff favorites at K&L and when you taste the wines you will know why!

Jason and Anna showcasing their organic vineyard with Buckwheat cover crop

Here are the latest offerings that we now have in stock:

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $18.99

The 2012 vintage in New Zealand produced very high quality wines from low yields in a long, cool growing season. This sauvignon blanc is sourced from the Trelawne Farm Vineyard in the Upper Awatere Valley and TWR's home block in the Wairau Valley. The fruit was very gently pressed and is a large proportion of free-run juice. A slow cool ferment was used to preserve this wines bright aromatics and flavors while a small proportion of the juice was fermented in old Demi-muids (large neutral oak barrels) to give added texture and complexity on the palate. Jason and Anna’s notes read: “White currant and passion fruit coupled with ripe tropical and citrus notes from the Wairau components. These follow through to the palate -- which is fine and soft with vibrant, fleshy fruit balanced by ripe, juicy acidity and lingering minerality." This is a fresh zesty SB with great acidity and very exotic aromatics. The wines racy qualities are beautifully balanced by a rich textural mid palate from the extra lees contact and barrel fermented proportion.

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Pinot Noir, Marlborough, $26.99

The fruit for this Pinot Noir comes from TWR’s home vineyard in the Renwick sub-region of Marlborough. The fruit is farmed organically and biodynamically. After careful handpicking, gentle de-stemming (without crushing) the fruit is then sorted by the individual berry! The ferment takes place in tiny one ton open fermenters where it is gently punched down by hand four times per day. The wine then spends 12 months in top quality French oak with 35% being new wood. According to the winemaker this wine “exhibits fragrant notes of ripe strawberry, and cherry with hints of mocha, violets, spice and some complex savory undertones. The finely textured, silky tannins combine with vibrant flavors of ripe strawberries and omega plums. The palate carries onto more savory and complex flavors and finishes with a lingering persistence of fruit, fine tannin and well integrated oak. Bottled unfined and with mineral filtration”. I love this wines balance of exuberance with its juicy accesible fruit along with more complex layers of exotic spice, agar wood, floral tones and deep forest floor notes. A easy wine to enjoy on so many levels.

Jason hand plunging the Pinot Noir

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Chardonnay, Marlborough, $26.99

This 2012 Chardonnay is selected from their 32 year old home block in Renwick. The vines are Mendoza clone famous for its small berries and intense flavor concentration. The fruit it all handpicked and fermented in French oak Puncheon barrels that are 50% new. The Chardonnay then spends 11 months on its full lees adding layers of complexity and enhancing textural components. The total production of this wine was 90 cases. The wine shows good concentration with beautiful rich baked orchard fruits, balanced toasty oak and lovely lees quality punctuated by subtle mineral accents. Really exotic aromatics lead the way onto a complete palate that finishes fresh and lifted.

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Riesling "D" Marlborough, $18.99

Showcasing the winery's old vine fruit which is sourced from thier 30+ year old vineyard. All fruit was hand-picked and hand-sorted before being gently pressed and fermented at cool temperatures to retain the wine's floral aromatics. From the winery: "Lifted aromas of jasmine, fresh lemon, kaffir lime leaf and mardarin follow on to the palate. These flavors of fresh lime juice, lemon sorbet and ripe grapefruit with hints of floral spice are balanced by a fine backbone of ripe acidity. This Riesling is a dry style which has excellent fruit weight and concentration to balance the lingering mineral acid structure. This wine is finely structured with great length of flavor." This is dry Riesling at its finest. Not austere and pithy like some incarnations. This wine has classic Riesling pronounced aromatics and soft texture on the palate but with driving acidity and persistence. Delicate yet powerful, good fleshy fruit but excellent focus. Lovely wine, a real staff favorite.

2013 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Riesling "M" Marlborough, $18.99

TWR takes inspiration from the great wines of the Mosel in this energetic and off-dry Riesling. The long hours of sunshine and cool overnight temperatures in Marlborough lend themselves perfectly to retain the natural acidity ( 9.5g/L) for this food-friendly and dynamic style. Jason and Anna describe it having "lifted aromas of orange blossom, mandarin, lime and white peach follow onto vibrant, ripe flavors of pink grapefruit, peach and lime with underlying slatey mineral notes. This wine is fine and soft with excellent fruit weight and concentration to counterbalance the mouth-watering acidity." I am amazed by this wines balance. It's hard to imagine that this wine has 30g/l of residual sugar but the remarkable 9.5g/l of acidity balances it perfectly. This wine gives the best German Kabinett / Spätlese offerings a serious run for their money!

2011 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Syrah, Marlborough, $29.99

The fruit is entirely hand picked, sorted by the cluster, gently de-stemmed and then re-sorted by the individual berry! A small portion is fermented whole cluster to enhance structure. The ferment is conducted in tiny one ton open top fermenters. A seven day cold soak is followed by 7-9 day ferment and another week post ferment maceration. The Syrah is matured for 12 months in French oak (35% new). This wine is quintessential ultra-cool climate Syrah. Treat this like a northern Rhone Syrah as regards to food pairing and you will not be disappointed. A tiny production wine that we are delighted to put on the shelf. The nose is full of violets and flowers with more serious undertones of cured meat and ground spice. The palate is mid weight with great acidity and silky fine grained tannins. Long and focused on the palate. 

Truly Hand-crafted winesAll of these wines are worthy of your attention. I believe they are as good of a line up as you will find anywhere. Jason and Anna's passion and dedication to quality shines through in all these wines and we are excited to have them back in our stores and online.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, New Zealand / Australia / South Africa Wine Buyer

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday
Jun052013

{Terra Ignota} K&L Exclusive Direct Import of Spectacular Te Mata Estate Wines

During my travels around New Zealand in 2011 I visited over 50 wineries. In general I was amazed by the quality and diversity of the wine I encountered. Marlborough was great, Central Otago too, but I think it was Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island that really blew me away. The cornerstone of that revelation was most definitely the wines of Te Mata Estate. 

The famous landmark of Te Mata Peak that towers over the winery

I was so impressed that on my return to K&L I worked hard to develop a relationship with them and am pleased to say that we are now the exclusive importer of the Te Mata wines to the USA. Te Mata Estate is New Zealand’s oldest family owned winery. Founded in 1892 by an English immigrant, the winery still uses the original plots nestled into the lower slopes of Te Mata Peak, a dramatic rocky out crop that towers above the flat plains of Hawke’s Bay. The vines grow only a couple miles from the ocean and are perfectly tempered by cool sea breezes. These rocky free draining soils are perfect for balanced, finessed wines but with the concentration and power I have come to expect from Hawke’s Bay.

The orignal Coleraine Vineyard first established in 1892

Te Mata’s wines are held in very high regard and many immediately sell out upon release from the winery. Their four most iconic wines have long been regarded as the most prestigious and awarded wines in New Zealand. The long lived, Bordeaux like Coleraine. The undeniably rich and delicious Awatea. The complex, layered, very Burgundian Elston Chardonnay and perhaps the most sought after all, the stunning Bullnose Syrah. We have also brought some of their other estate wines to the US as part of a K&L exclusive direct import. These wines are truly the pinnacle of what New Zealand can produce.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Coleraine” Bordeaux Blend, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $49.99

This is a stunningly complex and delicious Bordeaux style blend that takes its name from the tiny vineyard directly adjacent to the winery. The Coleraine has been produced since 1982 and is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest and most age worthy wines. Quite compellingly the wine is made each year using a blind tasting and blending of the estates fine parcels of Bordeaux varietals.

The winemaker describes it as “saturated magenta in color with concentrated aromas of blackcurrants, spice and dark old fashioned roses. The palate opens with the dense sweet, dark berry fruits indicative of a great year. The focus quickly turns to rich fine tannins that fill the mouth, leaving a lasting impression of a wine of significant ageing ability. Coleraine '09 [is] considered amongst the greatest Coleraines. A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon, 43% merlot, and 5% cabernet franc, it will continue to develop in bottle and provide great enjoyment up to 15 years from harvest.” My personal notes echoed these, being particularly impressed with the balance between rich dark fruits and a firm structure. This is clearly a wine for the long haul but with just enough extraction to please the bigger cab drinkers and those who enjoy riper Bordeaux vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate also gave great reviews to this wine awarding 95 points and writing:

“Blackberry, dark chocolate, a touch of sloe and liquorice. The finesse is there on the long, languid finish. A masculine Coleraine with great intensity and promise for the future.”

James Suckling writes: “94 points, this is an awesome Bordeaux blend with light mint, flowers and dark fruits. Currants and slightly dried fruit. Full-bodied, with layers of ripe tannins and long, long finish. Still slightly chewy. Needs another three to four years to come around.”

2010 Te Mata Estate “Awatea” Cabernet Blend, Hawke’s Bay NZ $29.99 

This is the 2nd wine to the Coleraine, made in a slightly more plush, drink earlier style and represents an excellent value for a remarkable bottle of wine. Te Mata Estate believes this to be one of the finest Awatea’s it has produced to date. Winemaker’s notes: “2010 Awatea is a dark magenta colour with aromas of fresh blackberry and raspberry infused with rosemary and sandalwood. The palate is pure, powerful, and well balanced, with mineral freshness and fine powdery tannin warmth contributing to its length. Awatea ’10 is a blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 12% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot. It will continue to evolve in bottle, providing great enjoyment up to 10 years from harvest. It is a natural partner for savoury red meat dishes and hard cheeses.”

I found this wine to be very expressive right now with a touch more generosity. Dark lush fruit and spice box with wonderful energy and brightness on the palate. A dynamic wine that evolves beautifully in the glass. The perfect steak wine! Truly over achieving against any other $30 Cab blend I would put in it’s category.

The 2010 Awatea has not been professionally reviewed yet, however the 2009 garnered 92 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Bullnose” Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $31.99 

This wine sells out immediately upon release in New Zealand, it’s almost a national treasure! Made from a tiny, steep single vineyard, the winemaker writes: “An impressive deep magenta colour, with aromas and flavours of raspberry and sweet cherry, baking spices and lavender. The rich palate displays velvety tannins underpinning plum and cream notes, leading to a long, elegant finish. It will continue to evolve in bottle for eight years from harvest.” This is a stunningly elegant and perfumed Syrah again playing a perfect balance between old world structure and beautifully pure new world fruit.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awards 94 points and writes: “Produced since 1992, the vines for the Bullnose Syrah are now 20 years old. Purple-black in color, the 2009 Bullnose Syrah gives up a pronounced nose of blueberry compote and blackberry pie filling with hints of cloves, moss covered bark, allspice, toast and aniseed with a whiff of white pepper. Medium bodied and concentrated in the mouth, it gives a good structure of crisp acid and firm, ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and peppery. Drink it now to 2018+.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Elston” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $29.99

Once more finding a perfect balance between the restraint and mineral intrigue of great white Burgundy and the slightly more exotic fruit expression of New Zealand. This wine is fascinating as it tip toes across the palate and goes on and on in the finish. The winemaker describes it beautifully: “Elston ‘11 has a brilliant, green gold colour, and lovely aromas of nectarine and white peach, with a background of oatmeal and cedar. It is elegant and intense, with a mineral tension in the extended palate that suggests considerable cellaring potential. Elston ‘11 will continue to evolve in bottle for five years + from harvest and matches well with full flavoured dishes based on seafood, poultry and white meats, as well as soft ripened cheeses."

The 2011 vintage has not yet been professionally reviewed, but the 2010 garnered 95 points from James Suckling with him writing “This is really fabulous with insane density like grand cru Burgundy. Full and layered with great concentration and structure. Lemon rind, apple pie and mineral undertones. It's all about tension and structure here. Needs time to come around. Better in 2015.”

I think the 2010 is a better wine than the 2009 with more brightness and minerality. This wine is considered one of New Zealand’s most prestigious Chardonnays and I urge you to try it.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Cape Crest” Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $19.99

 

One of New Zealand's top Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blancs. The Winemaker describes it as “fermented and aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. Eight months aging on the lees lends this Bordeaux-style blend (85% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Semillon, and 4% Sauvignon Gris) incredible mid-palate richness and length on the finish. It reveals intense aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, pear, and blossom in the nose, with accents of buttered toast and vanilla. The palate is layered and creamy, with fine acid structure and a very long lingering nutty finish.” Very classy stuff and a gives a whole new meaning to most peoples understanding of Kiwi Sauv Blanc.

James Suckling writes: 92 points “This is like top white Bordeaux with lemon / lime, green apple and mineral character. Great intensity. Full body with lovely balance of fruit and oak. Excellent finish. Drink now.

Jancis Robinson writes: 17/20 Brilliantly forthright oak, like all-butter shortbread. Lemon citrus and vegetal notes present on the palate, good restraint despite the potent nose. This could be Graves or Pessac-Léognan.

Last but not least is the wonderful if not slightly quirky 2012 Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $16.99.

Made in a very convincing Beaujolais style with partial carbonic fermentation, this is such a fun and delicious wine. Spicy, crunchy red berries with silky, supple tannins and just a whiff of cracked black pepper to distinguish it as a Hawke’s Bay wine. Perfect for summer BBQ with chicken and fish. Once you try one this will be a new favorite I’m sure!

James Suckling agrees saying: “90 points, amazing Beaujolais style to this wine with grapy, wet earth character. It's medium-bodied, with fresh acidity and a long finish. So much going on here. One of the only producers in New Zealand of Gamay. It was started in 1995. Cuttings came from Beaujolais. Lovely texture to it. Drink now 

Please check out these wines. They are all truly remarkable. Any feedback will be truly appreciated.

 Cheers

 -Ryan Woodhouse, Aussie/NZ Specialist

 ***

Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday
Apr242013

{Terra Ignota} The Exceptional Wines of Fromm Winery

We are pleased to announce the next wave of releases is here from the brilliant Fromm Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. We have cultured a great direct relationship with winemaker Willy Hoare at Fromm and are very excited to offer these wines exclusively in the USA.

I visited Fromm estate back in April of 2011 and knew that these wines were something special. I had previously experienced the wines in the UK selling wine in London. The wines have always been very pure, balanced and structured for great longevity. In fact I have had many great experiences drinking wines from this property at 10+ years of age, including Pinot Noir and their phenomenal Rieslings. The most recent Fromm releases from the excellent quality 2009 and 2010 vintages have struck me as even more exciting than the wines of old. The winemaking seems to be finding a way of combining a little more youthful exuberance and richness with the same classic underlying structure for extended cellaring. This means great wines for now…and the potential to lay some down if you can keep your hands off them long enough!

Fromm farms several estate vineyards in Marlborough’s various sub-regions. The vineyards are well down the road in conversion to organic and Biodynamic viticulture. Total production for the winery was around 5000 cases when I last checked. Winemaker Willy amazingly got his start in wine at the tender age of nine “helping out” at the world famous Cloudy Bay. You could say his Marlborough roots run as deep as some of Fromm’s old vine plantings in the gravel soils of the Wairau Valley. He, along with winemaking partner Hätsch Kalberer, certainly craft what I think are some of the best examples of truly inspiring Marlborough Pinot Noir I have tasted.

Thankfully I am not the only person waxing poetic about these wines of late. James Suckling’s recent visit and tasting of the wines brought a flood of 94-95 point ratings and comparisons to Grand Cru Burgundy! This high praise was a very welcome development for us as long time believers in the wines and was a great reinforcement for our direct relationship that had just recently been forged. We have just emailed the latest Fromm wines to our mailing list and they are probably going to snapped up quickly so grab some asap if you are interested. Below is a list and notes on the current Fromm offerings:

2010 Fromm Winery "La Strada" Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $21.99

94-95 points James Suckling “A seamless red that starts off with pure strawberry and berry aromas and flavors. Full with beautiful tannins and natural beauty. It goes on for so, so long. Yes!” (12/ 2012)

This Pinot has a phenomenal bright, perfumed nose of crushed spicy red fruits and dark rose petals complicated by rich soil tones and a subtle Thyme note. This is a layered wine of real depth and intrigue. On the palate beyond its pure dark red fruit character lays an array of subtle complexities that really take it to another level of distinction. The wine has an effortless balance and silky elegant texture. This is wonderfully complete and stylish Pinot Noir at an everyday price thanks to our direct purchase from the winery. An exceptional value that will continue to develop and impress for another 8-10 years without a doubt.

Comments from the Winemaker: "Dense with nice clarity. A bright and lively wine offering ripe plums, black cherries and a hint of blueberries. Adding to the mix are spicy aromas (cloves, liquorice) and violet florals which combine with an earthy complexity to round off the nose. The palate opens with ripe, sweet fruit and shows good depth and concentration with ripe tannins providing structure. Quite a powerful wine yet one of refinement."

2009 Fromm Winery "Brancott Valley" Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $29.99

95 points James Suckling “This is so powerful and rich with a dense structure and lightly chew tannins. So long and structured. Grand crus Burgundy character. Muscular. Better in 2015.”

A powerful nose of dark red fruits, black cherry and bramble. This wine is rich, dense and fleshy. A subtle whole cluster stem character adds structure and complexity and brings brightness to a fairly saturated mid palate. This wine is currently exuberant and youthful, brimming with fruit and has a plush texture. Despite this obvious density and power, the wine retains elegance throughout finishing with exotic warm spices and a tickle of fine tannins that suggest this wine will be a fantastic prospect for the cellar, as well as immediately rewarding. I have had many releases from this estate with 10 years of bottle age and can attest that they develop beautifully.

Comments from the Winemaker :"The 2009 Fromm "Brancott Valley" Pinot Noir shows intense, bright black plums and dark cherries with subtle mocha aromas and an underlying savouriness. On the palate, again generous cherry/plum fruit with trademark Brancott Valley spice. Ripe fine tannins contribute to a lovely silky texture. An expansive wine of refined structure and elegance - a juxtaposition of power and finesse."

2010 Fromm "Clayvin Vineyard" Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand $40.99

92+ points Robert Parker  “Medium deep ruby-purple in color, the 2010 Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir is slightly closed, revealing subtle hints of cranberries, black raspberries and red cherries plus suggestions of lavender, cardamom and pepper. Medium-bodied and crisp with a medium level of grainy tannins, the fruit is taut and it finishes long and layered. It needs 6-12 months more in bottle and should drink to 2019+”. (92+)

Comments from the Winemaker: Dense, deep plum-cherry colour. Intense, vibrant wild berry aromas with dark, lightly toasty mocha notes. Concentrated, spicy fruit with lots of underlying power and richness; well structured and supported by fine, ripe tannins. Dense and silky textured with great presence and harmony, resulting from pristine fruit in a top year. A classic Clayvin Pinot Noir.

2010 Fromm "La Strada" Syrah, Marlborough, New Zealand $21.99

James Suckling “Blackberry and tar and asphalt undertones with hints of black peppers. Full and rich with lots of fruit, yet balanced and delicious now.”

Comments from the Winemaker: "Deep crimson in colour. This Syrah shows dense but bright blue fruit with lifted sweet aromatics of juniperberries and five spice, all combining with florals of dark violets. The palate is concentrated and mouth filling but retains an elegant, easy drinking quality thanks to balancing acidity. Ample flavour and fine, well layered tannin support provide for lovely length. An expressive young Syrah, drinking well now but will happily develop for another 2-3 years."

2012 Fromm Riesling, Marlborough, New Zealand $18.99

Fromm is well known for their spectacular Rieslings. This wine is made in a Spätlese style at 7.5% Alc and 94g/L of Residual Sugar. The wine is so concentrated and powerful. Tons of honeyed apricot and tangy preserved lemon is punctuated by lime zest acidity. Some subtle river stone mineral notes and citrus peel linger on the very long finish. This wine is very young, forward and primary right now, despite it being super moreish and drinkable at present, experience with older bottles from this great estate tells me this wine will continue to develop as only great Riesling does for another 10yrs+. This is a spectacular value and a must try for all Riesling lovers!

Comments from the Winemaker: "Clean ripe fruit on the nose of limes, nectarines, pristine red apples and subtle mandarin. Also offered are lifting florals of orange blossom and honeysuckle all combining with focussing minerals. The palate is one of rich concentration, bright fruit and alluring sweetness - refreshed by cleansing acid. This is a Riesling of purity, free of botrytis and low in alcohol. Drink well chilled. Alcohol 7.5 % Total acidity 9.4 g/l pH 2.76 Residual sugar 94 g/l

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!