Clearview Estate - Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
This coastal winery is packed to the rafters with wine to taste!
Nestled on the scenic Te Awanga Coast, with views of the majestic Cape Kidnappers jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, is Clearview Estate. An area that the owner and founder Tim Turvey was told was "too cold for grapes", Te Awanga has proven to be an outstanding place to grow grapes. Fresh sea breezes help moderate the heat and also help to prevent frost when the weather turns cold.
Always one to innovate, Clearview Estate now produces 11 varieties of grape from under 20 hectares, with several expressions of each variety being produced each year.
The restaurant on-site was also one of the earliest restaurants within a winery in New Zealand.
The cellar door holds the same maritime theme as the rest of the complex and I was hosted by Sasha who took me through an incredibly large range of wines.
If you are tasting at Clearview, make sure you clear your schedule and maybe have a meal before hand as there are many to try!
Haumoana Pinot Gris 2012:
One of Clearview's first vintages of Pinot Gris, sourced from near the mouth of the Tuki Tuki River outside neighbouring Haumoana village.
Broad aromas of citrus and pears that continue through the palate producing a simple, easy to drink style.
Reserve Sauvignon Gris 2012:
A rather new variety for New Zealand, Sauvignon Gris is thought to be either the ancestor of, or an old mutation of, Sauvignon Blanc. This variety has disappeared and re-appeared several times over the last 100 years.
This example is delicate and soft with layers of stonefruit and light spices complimented by balanced acidity and a medium finish.
Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012:
Not only a Hawke's Bay Sauvignon Blanc but a barrel-fermented one at that? This wine truly is one of a kind.
At this age the classic Sauv herbaceous-ness is disappearing and the wine is taking on a more viscous style of body, due in part to it's 11 months in barrel, partial malolactic fermentation and time on lees, but also due to the 9% of this wine that is Semillon, introduced to help the wine cellar and create a wine that is altogether more complex and approachable.
Reserve Semillion 2012:
The 2012 vintage was only the 7th vintage of Semillon that Clearview has produced, but their reputation for having one of the finest examples of the variety in New Zealand is already well established.
Curious, subtle aromas of light citrus peel and walnuts combine with a rich and textual body that is full of soft nutty flavour. This Sem spends 11 maturing in seasoned American Oak (rather rare in NZ) and will age for several more years to come.
Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2011:
Elegance is the theme with this Chardonnay, refined and balanced with a bony structure that reflects the unique minerals that make up the terrior of this area.
Lean and fresh with a lime zest that I just couldn't shake, the finish was so long it took three glasses of water before I could continue onto the next wine.
Reserve Chardonnay 2012:
This Chardonnay is what many think of when they hear the name 'Clearview'.
It's their classic, big, powerful Chardonnay which has a rich, luxurious mouthfeel, but is balanced with excellent stonefruit characters. I've have tried this wine a number of times over the last few years and I believe the style that they achieve will age at least 6-8 years so cellar with confidence.
Cape Kidnappers Pinot Noir 2012:
This Pinot Noir is most commonly found in the restaurant on-site or the wine stores around the Hawke's Bay.
Pinot Noir is rare in this region and this example is a simple style with plenty of bright red cherry and ripened raspberry characters. Soft on the finish it's an easy wine to quaff with coastal foods.
Pinot Noir 'Des Trois' 2011:
This wines name originally comes from the fact that it was sourced from three different regions of New Zealand; Central Otago, Waipara and Wairarapa. Nowadays this wine is sourced both locally in Te Awanga and from two small parcels in Wairarapa.
Fuller and richer than the Cape Kidnappers Pinot, riper cherry flavours marry with cocoa and mocha characters with a cedar hint to the finish.
Will continue to develop for the next 2-3 years but is also very approachable now.
Merlot Malbec 2013:
This blend is primarily Merlot (90%) with remaining portion being Malbec which, despite only consisting of 10% of the blend, holds it's own within the profile of the wine.
Fruit-driven with plums and bramble berries meeting light spice characters, this wine is designed as an earlier drinking style, especially compared with the Reserve wines that come up next.
Old Olive Block 2012:
Old Olive Block is a tiny block right in front of the restaurant area, where a 100 year old Olive Tree stands, planted originally by Anthony Vidal, one of New Zealand's winemaking greats.
Tim did not know that his now vineyard was actually a vineyard area for Vidal in the early years of the 20th century until he discovered an old Vidal Vineyard Sign while clearing an area of field.
Made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, this wine is generously full, savoury and complex. The Merlot brings deep plum flavours, complemented by Cab Sauv cassis and plenty of additional structure from the Cab Franc and Malbec.
Be prepared to age this wine at least 5-10 years to really see it's best.
Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012:
Another rare single varietal wine, this Cab Franc is often ranked amongst New Zealand's finest and is only made in the finest years for this variety. 26 year old vines have produced a wine that is both complex and subtle, still quite green at such a young age, but should develop rich spice flavours that will fill the palate and should age for another 8-10 years quite easily.
The top Reserve for Clearview is a Merlot predominant blend (61%) , that includes Malbec (31%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (8%) to create a wine that is mature beyond it's years.
I would have guessed around 4-5 years old at this stage, not less than 2 years old.
Excellent smooth tannins that back up a luxurious palate that is both earthy and spicy without tipping the scales too far in favour of either. Perfect balance is achieved in this wine, even though the percentages of varietals are so varied.
Cellar with confidence for the next 8-10 years.
Late Harvest Chardonnay:
Yet again something outside the box, this time a Chardonnay that has been done in the Late Harvest style.
Left for several weeks longer on the vine, the fruit has also developed the Botrytis rot, which coupled with the Chardonnays already powerful body, produces a thick, strong, honeyed wine, that is like syrup in the mouth. Whole bunch pressed, this is a style that should be savoured and consumed with a hefty dessert either involving honey, or plenty of caramel.
An interesting style for New Zealand in the form of a fortified wine made from Merlot and Malbec, in the style of a tawny port, with plenty of body and maybe even a little bit sweeter. Lot's of berries and a good dry finish.
I would suggest enjoying this in the next several years as a nice after dinner glass.