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The wines of Mission Estate, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

PO Box 7043, Taradale, Napier, Hawkes Bay, NZ
Website: www.missionestate.co.nz

Founded in 1851, this is New Zealand’s oldest winery, initially established by Catholic missionaries who needed wines for communion.

I tasted the wines with Peter Holley (right), the CEO. I chatted about some tecchie issues with him. On the Gimblett Gravels, where the reds here come from, you need to irrigate. A while back he put an aquaflex in the ground which measures moisture content. This has enabled them to cut back from 9 litres a day per vine to 3.5 litres a day. They do regulated deficit irrigation, where they use aquaflex throughout the vineyard coupled with palm pilots and spreadsheets to cut back water at veraison, stressing the vines a bit but not too much.

For vine nutrition organic fertilizer is preferred. Chicken manure works best.

They used to use Scott Henry trellising for the Cabernet, but they have since decided to go VSP, and the impact on the tannins over 18 months has been immediately noticeable. ‘We now have consistent delivery of high quality fruit year after year’, reports Holley. ‘Scott Henry is a swine, giving jagged tannins.’

The red wines in particular impressed in this line up. ‘New Zealand can do good red wines and can do Cabernet’, says Holley. ‘It’s just a matter of being particular and putting the effort in.’

Mission Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Hawkes Bay
Fresh, grassy and assertive with bright fruit and good acidity. 88/100 (£7.99)

Mission Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Hawkes Bay
Malolactic is done in barrel, where it spends four months. Quite smooth and ripe with nice rounded texture plus some freshness. There’s some minerality, too. A really nice wine. 90/100 (£10.99)

Mission Reserve Chardonnay 2005 Hawkes Bay
Smooth, rounded and quite toasty with a lovely texture. A really nicely balanced wine: smooth and rich with low profile oak influence. 89/100 (£10.99)

Mission Jewelstone Chardonnay 2005 Hawkes Bay
This has higher acidity and spends longer on lees than the Reserve. Lovely green apple/lemon freshness to the fruit. The palate is fresh and bright with lovely oak integration. Super fruit here: a stylish wine that’s rich but balanced. 91/100 (£13.99)

Mission Estate Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2005 Hawkes Bay
Minerally, spicy, chalky freshness to the ripe berry and blackcurrant fruit on the nose. There’s nice fruitiness on the palate. It’s quite soft but there’s a minerally presence. Delicious chalky gravelly structure here. 90/100 (£7.99)

Mission Jewelstone Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2004 Hawkes Bay
Nice ripe smooth fruit with good structure. Good balance here with a tarry, minerally edge to the fruit. Structured yet smooth. 90/100 (£13.99)

Mission Estate Syrah 2005 Hawkes Bay
Lovely fresh, peppery spicy Syrah. There’s some richness to the fruit, but it’s fresh and in focus – a delicious peppery, spicy wine. 90/100 (£7.99)

Mission Reserve Syrah 2005 Hawkes Bay
Sweet dark fruits nose with some broody, meaty complexity. The palate is sweetly fruited with nice, dark, spicy complexity. Finishes bright and peppery. 91/100 (£10.99)

Mission Jewelstone Syrah 2004 Hawkes Bay
Lovely ripe, expressive wine with focused dark fruits character and a spicy finish. There’s lots of interest here. Good weight. 92/100

Wines tasted 01/07
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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