On the edge of New Zealand’s Marlborough valley where the Wairau river meets the ocean, an ancient land is proving a happy home for some very modern winemaking.
In 2003, Haysley MacDonald, the latest in a long line of MacDonalds who have lived on the Wairau Bar estate, made the decision to plant vines.
The resulting varietals, which have just arrived in the UK, are surprising for their remarkable individuality.
Haysley, working together with renowned wine maker Liam McElhinney, has branded his wines Te PÃ„Â which translates from MÃ„Âori as’our place’. It may not be a particularly easy name to pronounce or remember but the impact of the wines is unforgettable.
There’s a lot going on in te PÃ„Â Oke Sauvignon Blanc 2012.
Sauvignon Blanc may be the NZ classic grape but this one doesn’t want to run with the pack.
It has a truly remarkable nose of yellow gooseberry and papaya and a no less striking palate. Sweet, lush tropical flavours are contrasted with the acidity of crunchy green apples and an insistent minerality.
Even more impressive is the pale coloured te PÃ„Â Pinot Gris 2013, a very confident wine made with noticeable respect to the true potential of this grape variety.
It has stacks of aromatic power. Earthy straw and cooked pear are enhanced with a sophisticated, perfumed complexity.
The rich, fluid palate has excellent texture with flavours of creamy white peach, pomegranate and honeycomb lifted by delicate lime notes to finish.
It’s always nice to find a reasonably priced Pinot Noir that can pull a few tricks out of the hat and te PÃ„Â Pinot Noir 2011 proves quite magical in that respect.
A very appealing nose of ripe red fruit is anything but ordinary with notes of prune, coffee and eucalyptus popping up with delightful impudence.
The long and’unwoody’ palate has clarity and a surprising array of volatiles. Memories of preserved cherries in brandy, wax polish, liquorice and tar are all wrapped up in a clean strawberry cloak.
The first vintage of Te PÃ„Â was only in 2011. It’s impressive that wines of this quality have been developed in such a short space of time. It’s a quality that will undoubtedly ensure success.