Something special in McDonald's name
DEBORAH WALTON-DERRY & PETER MORICE
In 1995 Hawke's Bay's Church Road Winery launched TOM, a wine that will be well known to all red wine enthusiasts.
The wine was only made in exceptional years and honoured the life and legacy of legendary Hawke's Bay winemaker Tom McDonald.
Tom was known as the "father" of red wine in New Zealand and his passion for high-quality wine saw him forge a future for Hawke's Bay winemaking.
Tom was born in Taradale, Hawke's Bay, in 1907 and like so many young people in the early years of the last century, was out working by the tender age of 14.
He went straight into labouring and training to be a winemaker under the guidance of European-trained Bartholomew Steinmetz. Aged just 19, he was left in charge of the winery when Steinmetz went overseas. Tom leased the winery and when Steinmetz died in 1936, Tom bought the winery and vineyard.
By 1949, Tom had bought new vineyards, built a new winery and was producing outstanding cabernet sauvignon under the McDonald wine label. It was these wines that pioneered modern winemaking in Hawke's Bay, and Tom went on to win awards for premium chardonnay and Bordeaux-styled wines.
In 1974, Tom was awarded an OBE for his contribution to the New Zealand wine industry. He retired in 1976 and died in 1987 leaving a legacy that is a cornerstone of winemaking in New Zealand.
The Church Road Winery is now owned by Pernod-Ricard and is on the "must visit" list when in Hawke's Bay. Senior winemaker Chris Scott has just released a new addition to the Church Road range with the premium Church Road McDonald Series, which we think is very reasonably priced.
This new series recognises the life and legacy of Tom McDonald and every care has been taken to ensure that the wines have the complexity and character that are expected when such an illustrious name is associated with a product. It's a while since either of us has visited Hawke's Bay, but we really recommend a visit to Church Road winery - there's an underground wine museum and the magic atmosphere of the Tom McDonald cellar.
The McDonald Series includes a merlot, chardonnay, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon.
Church Road McDonald Series Hawke's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($32.99)
Dark red on a black background, opaque and very attractive. The aroma is typical of a high quality cabernet sauvignon - plenty of rich, fresh fruitiness supported by old leather, tar and liquorice notes - quite feral and absolutely wonderful. Firm tannins and fresh, ripe fruitiness are kept in check by the secondary characters on the palate. Some pleasant leathery, slightly meaty flavours assert themselves, filling out the flavour profile nicely. Soft, generous and mouth-filling with some crisp notes and floral aromatics to finish. A powerful yet elegant wine worth seeking out.
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18, Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($25.50)
The intense aroma is a blend of green grass, ripe tropical passionfruit and melon. Slightly prickly and very appealing. The palate is juicy and mouth-filling; there's plenty of flavour with zingy acids and tropical fruit punch. Light to medium bodied, easy drinking with just a hint of mineral at the finish - delightful drinking.
Aravin Central Otago Pinot Gris 2011 ($20 including freight for case lot)
The light, spicy aroma is quite lean with some apple and caramel notes. The warm, spicy palate has a chunky texture balanced by crisp apple flavours and some caramel softness towards the finish. If you want to find out more about Aravin or order: aravin.co.nz
Halo Hawke's Bay Merlot Cabernet Franc 2011 ($25.99)
This wine's colour immediately took our fancy - a deep purple red complemented by a heady aroma of plums, spice, chocolate, earth, mushroom and smoke. The love affair continues upon tasting. Furry tannins, generous black currant and boysenberry fruitiness with a dash of chocolate coupled with a drying, oaky, spicy finish. Exciting wine - soft, nicely rounded and altogether a stellar effort from a mid-price label.
Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010 ($30)
A clear, deep ruby red in the glass. The smoky, perfumed aroma is full of ripe plum notes complemented by smoky bacon savouriness that provides extra interest. The palate is rich and chewy with full, ripe plum fruitiness. There's a good balance between the oak, fruit and secondary flavours - savoury with some floral aromatics and good length of palate. Green herb notes round out the finish in this warming, concentrated wine with its moreish aftertaste.
- The Marlborough Express