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 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, 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 2018 vintage was hand-picked at two sites, in the lower Wairau Valley and the Southern Valleys, and fermented and matured for 10 months in French oak barriques and puncheons. Fragrant and mouthfilling, it has excellent depth of ripe, peachy, slightly toasty flavours, showing good complexity, gentle acidity and a creamy-smooth finish. It’s already drinking well.”
New Zealand Wines: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide 2020
92 POINTS “HIGH QUALITY”
“Aromatic, high energy chardonnay with apple, citrus, toasty yeast lees and nutty oak flavours. A fruit-focused chardonnay with a suggestion of salty mineral character.” JAN 19
Bob Campbell, Master of Wine
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