Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island & some woeful wine:

I first visited Waiheke Island about 25 years ago. It was a bit of an Auckland backwater then, plenty of hippies, single mothers druggies, thugs trying to rip you off. A great place for a long run in the morning. Today not a lot seems changed, beyond the congestion. A lot of folks have grown up, the kids of the single mothers are now single mothers, still lots of druggies and thugs trying to rip people off. Now the rip off is direct at the wharf, special guided tours by the hippies, and around the lovely hills where wineries have magically appeared selling ridiculously overpriced ordinary wine while the food in the cafes has morphed with New York style prices and accommodation can be had at Parisian prices. 

New Zealand is a brilliant country to visit, great countryside, good value restaurants and hotels and reasonably priced wine, but apart from the views, there is very little value on Waiheke. It has become a sort of Kiwi Disneyland where the rich and famous Aucklanders go to get their egos stroked and to burn lots of their new found cash. If you have to go to Waiheke, be patient and keep your wallet close.


Waiheke wine review at Te Moto wines

 Te Motu, Cabernets Merlot

 The flagship wine of the estate: Te Motu is a classic Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A perfumed and elegant wine with fantastic ageing potential, hand-harvested from low-yielding vines.

 New Zealand produces some lovely white wines and even some of the pinots from Otago and Martinbourough have been pleasing from time to time. But a cabernets in the French style, right here on Waiheke? Our local friends are keen to impress us with the new spoils of their great land. 

The Heritage tasting at Te Motu involves 3 cabernets in the Te Motu styled range on a price scale between about $85 and $105 a bottle. This price puts them in pretty heady country for French, Australian or American Cabernets which can be quite mind blowing. So much is expected.

The local wine master is extoling the virtues of the three wines. The 2006 in near its peak, the 2007 might have a few more years … and the other one? This is not old for good cabernets. And we also hear of all the amazing blueberry fruits, the cassis and the elegance in the French style. In some quarters “elegance” is just a cliché for a dryish red with no flavour. And it is hard to find much flavour here in these three unexceptional wines. It is a travesty to consider the thin little reds elegant and it is difficult to identify any grape character. Indeed the middle wine is clearly oxidised. Maybe it is a case of bottle variation, and “lets hope the Auckland rich class don’t notice”!

Having just spent 2 months in rural France we are well aware that the wines of Bordeaux are a pretty eclectic church. Goodish and elegant Bordeaux reds can be had for less than 10 Euros, some will sell for as little as 4 euros and still be potable. So to claim a wine is Bordeaux in character just does not tell us much.

Given $85 or $105 for a nice cabernet it is possible to contemplate a bunch of wonderful and spectacular Australian, American or even second growth French reds. For $104 I am lusting after the Wynns john Riddoch and our favourite little Voyager is only $60 for the amazing 2000 vintage, or maybe the Lakemead from Napa at just $70. In Perigueux we picked up a bottle of the 2008 Ducru for 70 Euros, that was an elegant Bordeaux red. The Te Motu is not in this sort of company.


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