Hawkesbridge Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2017 -6 $28 ★★★★★
OUR TOP CHARDONNAY has a rich, toasty style that is generous and smooth. It combines an attractive use of oak and fruit to highlight flavours of roasted peach, baked apple, spice and cashew notes. The lovely, creamy texture adds to its seductive complexity.
A SHINING STAR IN A CHALLENGING YEAR
Winemaker Jo Gear says the 2017 vintage “was the most challenging harvest I have worked in 16 years. It was cold, rainy and there was huge disease pressure.” Add to that unusual logistic challenges and it’s fair to say it was a vintage that challenged at all levels. However, difficult vintages can also bring out the best in people and in a vineyard, as winemakers and viticulturalists dig deep and stay vigilant to deliver the best result possible.
Heather and Milton Staples are the growers for the Hawkesbridge chardonnay. The Rapaura vines are now 25 years old and, with the roots deep into the soils, they are better able to defend against the unusual elements, within reason of course. Gear began working with the vineyard in 2006 and over time has relaxed more on the winemaking front as the resulting juice always performs very well. “Chardonnay is such a clever thing. It loves to be challenged and rises to the occasion to embrace the good. She is also generous and forgiving, so we winemakers love her unconditionally,” says Gear. The Hawkesbridge is naturally fermented and once put to barrel the next additions are time and patience. “I love this wine for its quintessential chardonnay character. It has all the hallmarks of the variety and sits so comfortably with all its inputs that nothing dominates,” adds Gear.
2 / Morton Estate Black Label Chardonnay 2016 (Gisborne) ★★★★★ -3 $20
A wonderfully sincere wine with multifaceted layers of flavours. Genuine fruit ripeness is underscored by flavours of a nutty baked custard, toasty oak and a hint of nutmeg. Creamy and rich, the wine is very textural with a lovely flowing yet dry finish making it very memorable.
3 / Wairau River Reserve Chardonnay 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★★ -5 $30
With a well-structured mid-palate, great length and focus, this wine is a style that will age with dignity. Punchy stone fruit and red apple with a touch of ginger, vanilla and baking spices create amplitude and richness over a fine structure, yet still cuddly enough to be loved by many.