Tasting notes: Tohu Wines (NZ) »

From the world's first Maori-owned wine company

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Tohu Mugwi Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Tohu Mugwi Reserve Sauvignon Blanc [©Tohu Wines]

Tohu Gisborne Chardonnay
Tohu winery Awatere Valley, Marlborough
Tohu Rore Reserve Pinot Noir
Tohu Marlborough Pinot Noir


Launched in 1998 by Wakatu Incorporation in partnership with two Maori organisations, Tohu Wines is recognised as 'He matamua taketake' – the original – as the first Maori-owned and operated wine label in New Zealand and the world.

It recently celebrated 20 years in operation. During that time it has crafted internationally acclaimed wines that reflect their place, time and deep connection to the land. Here are tasting notes for a range of their wines.

2017 Tohu Gisborne Chardonnay

Luminous pale gold in the glass, the 2017 Gisborne Chardonnay displays vibrant aromas of stonefruit and melon, complemented with subtle hints of creamy butterscotch and toasted nuts. Medium bodied and elegantly textured, this wine is balanced with notes of ripe citrus, tropical fruits and a touch of spicy French oak.

Winemaking: a range of modern winemaking techniques were used in in the crafting of this wine to highlight the pure Gisborne fruit. Picked at optimum ripeness, premium parcels of fruit were transported to the winery where they were gently pressed using modern membrane presses.

After pressing the resulting juice was moved into both French oak barriques and stainless steel tanks for fermentation with purposely selected yeasts. After the primary yeast fermentation was complete the wine underwent full secondary malolactic fermentation on yeast lees – allowing richness and weight to develop. After a short period of lees stirring the wine was left to settle before being fined and filtered, before bottling in late November.

Alc/vol: 13%


2016 Tohu Mugwi Reserve Marlborough

A luminous pale golden-green in the glass, this wine displays a powerful and complex nose of ripe tropical passionfruit underpinned with delicate exotic spices and rich nutty biscuit notes. On the palate ripe peach, tropical fruit and nettle are finely balanced with underlying minerality and pure fruit elegance.

Full fermentation in French oak barriques, extended time lees and malo-lactic fermentation give this reserve wine complexity, body and a richness of texture that leads to a long, smooth and lingering finish.

Winemaking: this wine was crafted using a very hands-off, minimal approach to winemaking. Premium grapes from our upper Awatere vineyard were specifically selected by our winemaker at harvest for both ripeness and exceptional flavour profile. After pressing the pure free-run juice was gently moved without settling to old French oak barriques. A natural fermentation with indigenous yeasts followed – allowing each barrel to
develop its own distinct flavour characteristics.

Once fermentation was completed the barrels were stored cold over the winter months with weekly lees stirring carried out, allowing body and texture to develop in the wine. Once the weather warmed in the spring a secondary malo-lactic fermentation took place, and when completed each barrel was graded with only the best and most intriguing making the final reserve blend. Once blended in tank, the wine was stabilised
and filtered before being bottled without fining in early April.

Alc/vol: 12.5%


2017 Tohu Single Vineyard Rore Pinot Noir

Displaying intense ripe dark fruit aromas underlined with bright florals and harmonious spicy oak notes, this single vineyard Awatere Valley pinot noir is selected from the very finest barrels to deliver a complex and elegantly structured wine.

On the palate flavours of red and dark fruits are balanced with soft, silky tannins leading to a long, lingering and mouth-filling finish.

Winemaking: hand-harvested grapes were gently de-stemmed and gravity feed into small open top vessels which were then chilled for 7 days before being warmed for fermentation. Following a fast, warm ferment the wine was pressed directly into French oak barriques and allowed to age in our dedicated pinot noir barrel cellar for the winter months. The wine then naturally underwent malolactic fermentation once the temperatures started to warm again in spring.

The wine was carefully monitored over this time, and after this secondary fermentation was complete rigorous blending and classification decisions were then made by the winemaking team – with only the very finest barrels making the cut. Once the final blend was made, the wine left to settle a few more months before being bottled without the need for fining or filtration in May 2018.

Alc/vol: 13%


2018 Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Sourced entirely from vineyards located in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, this wine is a bright luminous pale golden green in the glass. On the nose tropical fruit, currant-leaf and herbal notes lead to a concentrated palate of ripe pineapple, pink grapefruit and citrus zest; creating a vibrant wine with freshness and length.

Winemaking: select blocks from around the Awatere Valley are harvested using modern machine harvesters allowing ultimate extraction of flavour and aroma compounds from the skins of the grapes. Once at the winery the grapes are pressed into stainless steel tanks for cold settling, before being gently racked and inoculated with select yeasts chosen to naturally enhance the aromatic and flavour profiles of the wine.

Fermentation is carried out at cool temperatures allowing the wine to retain its bright aromas; with each batch fermentation typically lasting around 21 days. After fermentation is complete the wines are left to settle on their yeast lees for a short period before being racked again into
stainless steel tanks for maturation.

Meticulous classification of each batch results in a final blend that truly captures the exceptional characteristics of the vineyards. Once blended the resulting wine is stabilised and filtered – without the need for fining, ready for bottling in mid-July 2018.

Alc/vol: 13%


2014 Tohu Rewa Reserve Blanc De Blanc

A shimmering, brilliant palest gold in the glass, this traditionally made wine displays lifted aromas of bright citrus fruit, crisp fresh apples and refined touches of brioche and toasted hazelnut. Extended lees aging in the bottle has resulted in a wine that displays a fine, persistent bead and rich, creamy mousse. Finely balanced with bright acidity and a touch of minerality, this wine leads perfectly to an elegant, long and crisp dry finish.

Winemaking: the chardonnay grapes for this méthode traditionnelle are carefully handpicked before being lightly pressed at our modern winery. Pressings and free-run juices are initially kept separate before being racked clear to a temperature controlled stainless steel tank for the primary fermentation. After a long cool ferment the resulting wine is then warmed and undergoes full malolactic fermentation while aging in tank on yeast lees. The tirage (or bottling) of the base wine with yeast causes the wine to undergo a secondary yeast fermentation in the bottle – which creates the bubbles.

Once the secondary ferment is complete the bottles are then put to rest for 20 months on their lees in a temperature controlled warehouse before disgorging in late February 2017. At disgorgement, the lees are riddled from the bottle before topping and corking, labelling and release.

Alc/vol: 12%


2017 Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Riesling

A pale, bright and vibrant golden green in the glass, this single vineyard wine displays aromas of citrus zest, green apple and spring florals. The lively palate balances flavours of mandarin orange, makrut lime and hints of white peach and pink grapefruit with bright natural acidity; leading to a crisp and juicy finish.

Fresh, clean and fruit-forward in its youth, this wine will continue to develop over the years with careful cellaring.

Winemaking: small parcels of carefully hand-picked grapes were pressed as soon as they arrived at the winery using our modern membrane press. The resulting clear free-run juice was then transferred directly to stainless steel tanks, while the harder pressings were allowed to gently oxidise in order to soften harsh phenolics – before being transferred in with the free-run for fermentation. The ferments were carried out using a specialist riesling yeast at cool temperatures to capture aromatics and freshness.

Once the right balance of alcohol, sweetness and acidity had been reached the wine was racked off yeast lees and left in tank for two months allowing flavour compounds to develop and integrate. The wine was then stabilised and filtered (without fining) before being cross-flow filtered ready to be bottled early with ample bright freshness in early July.

Alc/vol: 12%


2016 Tohu Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

A deep ruby hue in the glass, this single vineyard Awatere Valley pinot noir displays lifted aromatic layers of cherry, plum and bright red fruit notes with hints of wild thyme. The palate is richly textured with flavours of ripe red and dark fruit, spice and integrated French oak underpinned by nuances of dry herbs and savoury notes.

Mid-weight on the palate, this wine is balanced with refined silky tannins that lead to a long and elegant finish.

Winemaking: grapes for this wine are handpicked at optimal ripeness before being transported back to the winery for processing. Once at the winery the fruit is gently de-stemmed and then lightly crushed using state of the art processing equipment. Batch fermented according to block and clone in small open top fermenters, the must undergoes a cold soak lasting around 7 days before being warmed and inoculated either with selected yeasts, or left to undergo a ‘wild’ ferment using indigenous yeasts found naturally on the grapes.

Once fermentation is complete the wine undergoes a short period of post-fermentation maturation on skins before being pressed directly to a combination old and new French barriques. Barrels are carefully monitored in a temperature controlled cellar over the winter period and once the malolactic fermentation is determined to be 100% complete the final blend is carefully put together before being filtered and bottled in mid-March.


Alc/vol: 13%

Tohu WInes can be purchased in Australia, find their distributors here » 

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November 20th, 2018
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