Church Road TOM Hawke's Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
The fourth excellent growing season in a row for Hawke's Bay with rainfall significantly lower and temperatures warmer than the 30-year average and a warm, mostly dry harvest period. All blocks are close planted and were trained to two cane VSP, with an average vine age of around 16 years.
We employ extensive shoot and fruit thinning along with bunch positioning, declumping, close canopy trimming and 100% removal of leaf through the fruit zone, to ensure a balanced, evenly spaced and well exposed crop. Soil moisture is monitored regularly to regulate a deficit drip irrigation programme.
This keeps the vines in a functioning yet low vigour state that promotes optimal ripening and small berry size, ideal for quality red winemaking. Selective harvesting was employed to target only the lowest vigour soils, down to part rows where required. The fruit was then destemmed, lightly crushed, and fermented warm in open top French oak cuves.
The caps were regularly broken and wetted to ensure a steady, gentle extraction. Total time on skins averaged around four weeks. During this time the wines are tasted daily to determine cap work, aeration requirements and drain and press timing, with the aim of achieving wines with a complete and harmonious palate structure.
The resultant wine was filled to a selection of the finest French oak barrels (62% new) for 18 months subsequent maturation. The final blend has been bottled unfiltered to maximise quality.
95 points, Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier