Chardonnay is my first love as a winemaker, and I’ve always felt a bond with it. In New Zealand, chardonnay is grown right across the length of the country. It’s the variety that I made my reputation on 30 years ago in Gisborne, before I came down to Marlborough and started working with sauvignon blanc. I think it’s one of the truly great wine styles of the world. Marlborough, as a cool climate wine region, has its strength in making beautiful mineral styles of chardonnay.
Chardonnay is all about texture, in my view, but in my Marlborough Chardonnay, I combine texture with a tight structure. This wine is blended from four different clones from grapes grown at my home vineyard in the lower Wairau Valley, Wrekin Vineyard on the clay hillsides of the Southern Valleys and Windmill Block at Dumgree in the Awatere Valley.
The fruit is all hand-picked and whole cluster pressed to reduce phenolic structure and allow attractive grape solids fermentation characters to come through. I use only the free-run juice, also known as cuvée. That cuvée juice is taken down a very traditional Burgundian path: high-solids barrel fermentation with wild yeast, lees aging in French oak and bâtonnage throughout the maturation period.
The wine develops structure and body as it ages in 500 litre oak puncheons, where it undergoes malolactic fermentation, gathers lees complexity from aging on the lees and takes in flavours from the wood and its toast levels. I enjoy complementing the natural stonefruit and citrus flavours of our chardonnay grapes by building aromatic complexity and texture during winemaking to craft an elegant, dry and mouth-filling wine.
My main drive is to make a beautiful food wine that will age with grace, has length and subtle power and will satisfy those who mainly come to the category of chardonnay with a background in drinking white Burgundies. Chardonnay is a winemaker’s favourite — the best white wine for barrel aging and exploring non-fruit complexity. It allows a lot of room for expression of my personal style.
Simon Waghorn — Winemaker
Mid straw gold.
Some ripe melon and dried stone fruits with vanilla and butter notes and a subtle mealiness.
A wine of very elegant texture with stone fruit, vanilla creaminess, toasty oak, pleasing weight and a long, dry and mineral finish.
This wine will continue to develop rewarding flavour and bottle complexity with aging.
Pairs well with roast chicken, creamy sauces, miso, sesame, truffles or delicate mushrooms.
CHARDONNAY SERVING TEMPERATURE
Cool room temperature.
"The delicious 2020 vintage (5*) is a top expression of Marlborough Chardonnay. Hand-harvested in the Awatere Valley, it was fermented and matured for nine months in French oak barriques and puncheons. Bright, light lemon/green, with a fragrant, savoury bouquet, it is mouthfilling, fresh and finely poised, with deep stonefruit flavours, complex, very harmonious, well-rounded and lingering." JUL 22
New Zealand Wines: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide
“Light, fresh, seamless Chardonnay, with an initial hint of seductive sweetness leading to a delicately dry finish. Citrus, white peach, ginger and nutty yeast lees flavours bask in a little alcohol warmth. A silken-textured, fruit-focused chardonnay. Drink 2022 to 2025.” APR 22
Bob Campbell, Master of Wine
The Real Review © The Real Review
“Complex, sophisticated, pure, ripe and very enticing bouquet. Aromas and flavours of apple and grapefruit, white peach and white apricot then apple. There's a natural fruit spice quality, sea breeze scent and youthful impact from the intensity and use of oak. Delicious, weighty, engaging and fresh on the palate. Flavours mirror the bouquet with near full-bodied texture, some fine tannins and planty of acidity for structure and breadth. A long finish, this wine is complex as well as delicious, will cellar and age well for the next 2-3 years. Best drinking from mid to late 2023 through 2030+." APR 22
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier
Sustainably certified SWNZ