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
"Very full, impenetrable, saturated black-red colour. The nose is firm with deeply concentrated aromas of ripe, black-berried fruits unfolding layers of black plums, liquorice, spices, earth, and iron-earth black minerals that show startling intensity and density. Full-bodied and in perfect proportion, the palate features rich and lusciously sweet, intensely concentrated flavours of blackberry fruits, black plums, liquorice, along with black minerals and iron-earth elements. The fruit is guided by very fine-grained flowery tannins, of considerable presence, and the palate enlivened by bright, vibrant acidity. The wine has incredible intensity and linear drive, carrying the concentrated palate to a long, firm, detailed finish. The sheer intensity, drive and mineral linearity is the backbone of this wine. It will live 15+ years easily. 100% MS clone fruit, 84% from the ‘Redstone’ Bridge Pa vineyard and 16% from the ‘Gimblett’ vineyard, fully destemmed and the main portion fermented in open top French cuve, to 15.0% alc., the wine spending 27 days on skins and aged 22 months in 54% new French oak barriques. 20.0/20 May 2017 RRP $200.00." Drink 2017 - 2032+
Winemaker notes on 2014 vintage
"Exuding opulence, this is a full bodied, seductive style of Hawke’s Bay Syrah. Rich, ripe and fragrant it expresses layers of dark berry and cherry fruit supported by lifted violet perfume, warm exotic spice and notes of dusty cacao, vanilla, smoky charcuterie and a subtle underlying earthiness. On the palate, the wine manages both luxuriousness and elegance with a plushness of texture that is supported by silky tannins, drawing the wine out across the back palate and lending great length to the finish."
5 Stars Michael Cooper (2013 vintage)
"Syrah is the latest addition to Church Road's elite Tom selection. The debut 2013 vintage (5*) was estate-grown in the Redstone Vineyard, in the Bridge Pa Triangle, Hawke's Bay. Harvested at over 25 brix, it was matured in French oak barriques (71 per cent new) for nearly two years. Delicious from the start, it has deep, youthful colour. Full-bodied (14.5 per cent alcohol) and rich, it is seductively smooth (winemaker Chris Scott aims to "melt the tannins into the wine"), with concentrated, ripe blackcurrant and spice flavours, a hint of pepperiness, gentle tannins and acidity, and lovely fragrance, depth and harmony."
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