The Hawke’s Bay is perfectly placed as New Zealand’s second largest wine region. Known for being one of the hottest and driest regions of New Zealand, it is the fruit basket bay on the East coast of the North island – producing tonnes of delicious fruit, especially apples for international export on a small flat coastal plan and surrounding hill terraces.
The region might not yet be as world renowned as its NZ Southern wine neighbours and their international successes (Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough, Pinot Noir in Central Otago), but it is New Zealand’s oldest wine region and steeped a rich wine growing history from the late 1800s. Each of the vineyards we visited had current links to early New Zealand wine pioneers (Marist religious brothers, Anthony Vidal (1905), Tom Macdonald) and late 19th century established plantings (Esk valley terraces, Te Mata estate). After a period of settling and experimentation, the region has now focused on what it grows and produces well – Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends.
There are now over 200 vineyards planted over about 5,000 hectares mainly on the Heretuanga plains which includes the famed Gimblett gravels and Bridge pa triangle which are essentially terraces left behind by Ngaruroro River. The Gimblett gravels pure gravel beds arise from the changed course of the river in 1867. The ground is ideal for top quality viticulture, good drainage and the vine roots have to struggle through the gravels for nutrients.
Mission Estate is steeped in history being New Zealand’s oldest winery dating back to 1851, the first commercial sales began in 1870.
It was set up by Missionaries, Marist priests left who France in1836 landing in 1838. It is still owned by the order of St Mary Church. Their current winemaker is Paul Mooney, the first non priest to have this role. Fruit is acquired from lots growers in Hawke’s Bay including Marlborough and Central Otago.
Categories of wines go from Estate, entry level volume: Vineyard selection cellar door only, Reserve wines low crop fruit thinning, more concentrated wine more in barrel more new oak. Jewelstone top wine only in most exceptional parcels in great years
My friend Aaron remembers when he was brought here on a school residential in 1987. They offered him the opportunity to train to be a priest which he politely declined.
Wine tasting hosted by Phillip Van Der Walt
Mission Estate fête Hawkes Bay
Pinot Gris 94% Chardonnay 6% charmat method pear nutty almond
Mission Estate Old vine 40 years semilon small block
Likes heat too cool generally in nz Hawkes bay warm enough to produce tropical pineapple characters
Citrus moderate acid, I didn’t find classic semillon characteristics
Mission Estate Jewelstone Rose 2019
First ever jewelstone Rose 2019 only 3 barrels made Gimblett Gravels 80 Merlot 20 can sav plenty fresh red fruit, really good rose
Mission Estate Jewelstone Pinot noir 2018
Red cherry straight fire nice balance from Central Otago
Mission Estate 2018 Syrah Gimblet gravels
Spice pepper mod tannins lighter style Ground black and green peppercorns
Mission Estate Late harvest Riesling 2018
Sometimes botyrtis tiny amount blended with Viognier and arneis 106 g l,Juicy ripe apricot
Mission Estate Barrel sample Huchet Chardonnay
2018 sl nutty a bit oxidised almond hazelnut nice texture Dry texture barrel older barrels