62% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon
Dating from 1897, when Bartholomew Steinmetz planted his vineyard next to Church Road, it is now one of the oldest wineries in the country. Steinmetz returned to his native Luxembourg in the 1920s, leaving his winery in the hands of the 19-year-old Tom McDonald, who had been working for him since his early teens. McDonald later bought the winery and set to making the first quality red wines in New Zealand, releasing the country's first commercial Cabernet Sauvignon in 1949. Quality steadily increased and by the 1960s New Zealand's wine connoisseurs snapped up McDonald's red wines year after year. Current winemaker Chris Scott came up through the ranks first as a cellar hand and vineyard worker and eventually, after a few vintages elsewhere, to winemaker. The “Tom” wines are a tribute to McDonald, only produced in exceptional vintages.
What The Critics Say
20/20 Raymond Chan
"Impenetrable black-red colour with slight purple on the rim, youthful in appearance. The nose is very firm and tightly composed with concentrated and intense aromas of blackberries, blackcurrants and cassis liqueur with iron-earth minerals and an array of intense perfumes. This has primary fruit, freshness and aromatic clarity. Full-bodied, the palate features richness, density, great concentration and beautifully ripened fruit, showing blackberries, black plums, blackcurrants and cassis. The fruit is succulent and luscious with great vitality and freshness. Nuances of Gimblett Gravels iron-earth, pencilly and cedary oak unfold. The structure is very fine-grained, near-soft in texture, refined and with a degree of accessibility, and the wine flows with energy, poise and linearity, carrying to a fine, tight, vibrant and minerally finish. This wine shows Gimblett Gravels personality and the finesse and accessibility of Merlot to perfection. This will evolve over the next 10-15 years. 62% Merlot from the ‘Gimblett’ vineyard and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon from the ‘Redstone’ Bridge Pa vineyard, the Merlot fermented in open top French cuve and the Cabernet Sauvignon in stainless-steel fermenter to 15.0% alc., the Merlot on skins 35 days and Cabernet Sauvignon 30 days, the wine aged 20 months in 74% new French oak barriques. 20.0/20 May 2017 RRP $200.00." Drink 2017 - 2032
Winemaker notes on 2014 vintage
"This is a dense and powerful, yet classically proportioned wine with layers of complexity. A core of rich blackberry, dark plum, cherry and cassis-like fruit is overlaid with beguiling lifted aromatics including rose petal, violet, sandalwood and cedar. In contrast to these brighter elements, subtle notes of cacao, vanilla and dried currant bring a dark luxuriousness to the aroma and flavour profile. Structurally, the wine presents with beautiful fruit weight and richness across the mid palate typical of good Hawke’s Bay Merlot. The taut structure of the Cabernet Sauvignon keeps the plushness of the Merlot in check with firm, powdery tannins and excellent textural presence on the finish. The overall balance between these two elements provides a linear, seamless feel across the palate and a sense of subtle, lithe power without excessive heaviness."
19+/20 Geoff Kelly (2013 vintage)
Ruby, carmine and velvet, a perfect young Hawkes Bay / Bordeaux blend colour, but far from the deepest, just above midway. Bouquet is simply sensational. Having tasted every wine in the series (loosely speaking) since the debut 1965 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 65/3, and cellared and studied all those worth cellaring, I can say there has not been a wine in all those years to match the quality of bouquet this 2013 Tom Cabernet / Merlot displays. The perfection of the cassis-led berry component is of young Ch Palmer quality. But equally important is the backing-off on oak which has been an issue in the Tom series in some years. Here the fruit, the berry, speaks triumphantly, with a floral component hinting at violets, darkest roses and port-wine magnolia, which is magnificent. In mouth the near-perfection continues. There is all the fruit quality, character and style of better Bordeaux classed growths, yet the wine is not heavy or overbearing in any way, and the highish alcohol is wonderfully well hidden. It seems to me a perfect matching of the Hawkes Bay viticultural and near-coastal regime with that of Bordeaux. Flavour is cassis-led, with bottled black doris dark plum fruit filling out the palate (the merlot component), plus cedary oak slightly more apparent now than on bouquet adding spice and savour. The saturation of berry, the concentration of fruit flavour in mouth, and the degree to which this wine has mopped up the high percentage of new oak, is magical.
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