Te Mata launches Pinot Noir for a ‘new chapter of New Zealand wine’

Premium estate Te Mata has launched a new red wine for a “maturing” consumer base.

Called Alma, Te Mata Estate’s new Pinot Noir is made from a single vineyard block of mature vines planted in 1999 in the region, an “uncommon thing in NZ, and a big deal for us,” according to sales and marketing manager Tobias Buck.

Global demand for New Zealand wine is at an all-time high, with total export value to importers and distributors reaching a record NZ$1.83bn, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

Buck told the drinks business that consumers who grew up drinking crisp, dry white wine from New Zealand are “maturing, and we’re maturing with them.”

He said that, whereas drinkers worldwide have often associated the country’s wine businesses with Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, in 2019, “you are seeing people going beyond that.”

Te Mata is something of an outlier in New Zealand, best known for producing premium reds from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in a country better known for highly aromatic Sauvignon Blanc.

While Pinot Noir makes up just 8% of all wine produced in New Zealand, both plantings and production of the grape have risen by over 40% in the past 15 years. Exports have also risen by 90% in the same time frame.

The Alma, with an RRP of NZ$59.90, provides an affordable alternative to premium wines from regions more famous for Pinot Noir such as Sonoma Coast in the US, Buck said.

He told db Te Mata’s Alma wine has already sold out in Australia and New Zealand, but hopes to generate revenue in 40 export markets such as the US, UK and Singapore.

Having worked at Clos des Lambrays in the Côte de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, winemaker Philip Brodie oversaw the production.

Buck added that, although he “does worry about the consequences of climate change generally”, the gradual warming of temperatures in New Zealand have had some positive affects on Te Mata’s ability to produce premium red wines.

“There has been a very slow change that has led to greater regional differences,” he said, adding that the “basic ability to ripen Syrah and Cabernet” has improved, as well as making it easier to plant and work with other wine grapes such as Barbera and Petit Verdot.

“It’s hard not to feel negative about it,” he said, “but it puts us in an interesting situation.”

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