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Wine of the Week for week ending 28 October 2001
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Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2000
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Cooper Creek Vineyard and Chardonnay I'm drinking more chardonnay than usual. It must be something to do with the weather. Or perhaps it is something to do with the quality of the New Zealand chardonnays from the 2000 vintage.

I was pretty impressed with this chardonnay, the Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2000 when I tried it earlier in the week.

The aromas are good with clean oak, flowers and honey and a fragrance like freshly cut pineapple. There's plenty of honeyed oak in the palate which gives a creamy texture to the wine but the oak is not overpowering, just so well balanced to the nectarine fruit richness, sweet citrus and the pineapple flavour that comes forth to linger on the pleasing tropical-like finish.

Malolactic fermentation and barrel maturation add more layers of complexity adding some toastiness to the citrus and tropical flavours.

The wine was matured in 30% new American oak and 10% new French oak with the balance being seasoned barrels. The wine remained in oak for 10 months. The finished wine has 13.5% alcohol by volume and is fermented dry.

The wine is just quite delicious and real shows off the quality of the 2000 vintage and the winemaking skills of Coopers Creek winemaker, Simon Nunns.

I really like the tropical note running through the wine and this was the flavour I decided to enhance with my food matches.

Pork was the best price at the butcher and the 'Hawaiian Pork Loins Chops' looked just the thing. This was accompanied with an easy 'tropical salad' made with grated carrot, grated edam cheese, shredded coconut and tinned pineapple pieces then dressed with the pineapple juice and served on a bed of shredded lettuce.

Two nights later I made some 'Stuffed Pork Rolls' using thinly sliced pork 'schnitzels' that I'd bought at the same time. A simple stuffing was made with fresh white breadcrumbs, leftover pineapple that I'd put aside from the tropical salad with about a tablespoon of pineapple juice, a few leafs from the pineapple sage plant and one egg. The blended mixture was spread onto the pork pieces which were rolled, secured with a toothpick, then poached in about 1/3 of a cup of the wine in a covered dish for about 30-40 minutes.

Serve the stuffed pork with carrots, sauteed leeks and mashed potatoes that have been mashed with some of the poaching juices, butter and seasonings.

Both these matches were delicious. The flavour profiles were right on the button.

The Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2000 has a recommended retail of under NZ$20. It's a quality wine at a value for money price and should be widely available, including in the USA and Canada when the container arrives. It is on the sea at the time of writing.

If you like chardonnay, you are sure to like the other chardonnays in the Coopers Creek range. The popular Fat Cat Chardonnay 2001 (NZ$15) is made from Marlborough fruit and was oak fermented with American oak staves and barrels. There's hints of bacon on the smoky nose while in the palate there's lovely peach fruit and zesty citrus with a mellow oak layer.

If you are thinking ahead to Christmas for a wine to impress the guests, then the Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Chardonnay 1999 (NZ$27) is going to be hard to resist. The softly smoky nose has a touch of pancetta-like meat, then in the rich palate there's fig and stone fruit with beautiful French oak lifting the texture - this is a very very classy wine and is very highly recommended.

Coopers Creek are in the process of getting their website up and running. It wasn't working at the time of writing, so keep an eye on for developments.

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