Te Whare Ra draws on one of the older vineyards in Marlborough, some vines having been established in 1979 and the rest of the vineyard over the following two decades. To have a reputation for great Gewürztraminer isn’t perhaps an accolade sought after by many producers, but Te Whare Ra’s version is highly regarded, and this was my first taste of it.
Really gorgeous aromas, robust and spicy, fruit expressing in a tropical spectrum and showing good ripeness without tipping over into too much tinned lychee. It’s an immediately complex wine, which isn’t something I was expecting, although I wouldn’t describe it as especially elegant either. It’s too forthright and changeable to communicate any sense of poise. It also throws savoury, somewhat challenging aromas that are a nice counterpoint to the varietal perfume that initially dominates the aroma.
The palate shows more of these slightly unfriendly flavours, adding some shade to a flavour profile that is even more complex than the nose suggests. There’s a bit of sweetness on the palate that pumps up a core of fragrant fruit, all surrounded by spice and other more floral notes. This, like good perfume, moves past individual flavours drawn from nature into a more interesting realm of abstract notes and flavour accords. And always, it has a sharper edge that never quite yields to the prettiness evident throughout the rest of the wine. Mouthfeel starts slippery and progresses to a chalky, slightly grippy after palate, phenolics fine and without bitterness. Slight heat coasts over the finish.
This is a fascinating, delicious and challenging wine.
Te Whare Ra