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edited by Sue Courtney
e-mail address: winetaster@clear.net.nz

Wine of the Week for week ending 23 December 2001
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Palliser Estate Noble Chardonnay 2000
Martinborough, New Zealand

Bubbly has to be the best way to start a meal - and especially so at Christmas time, whether you are on your own or with family and/or friends and/or other guests. If you are entertaining, hand the guests a flute full of chilled bubbles as they arrive.

Palliser Estate Noble Chardonnay 2000 I first discovered this little beauty in September, when the producers in the Negociants portfolio came to town to show off their wines. I love these wine tasting tours. One can taste the producer's entire range, chat to the winemakers and decide what, if anything, to buy based entirely on one's own palate pleasure.

I left the sweeties until the end of the tasting and as I circled the room one last time I found this seductive little number, the Palliser Estate Noble Chardonnay from the vintage of 2000. With its honey-rich bouquet, massively sweet honey peach and apricot flavours and it's sweet raisin finish I decided it was possibly the best botrytis chardonnay that I had tasted, ever.

It was a superbly balanced sweetness - hard to believe it had a whopping 250 grammes of residual sugar. And with only 8.5% alcohol it wasn't overpowering at all.

So last month I was a guest at Toast Martinborough and I made sure I tried this wine again when I arrived at the party scene that Palliser Estate had transformed into for the day. And the wine, it certainly lived up to my expectations.

Even though I tasted this wine after arriving at Palliser for a second time at the end of a long day of tasting, I still thought the wine superb. My notebook came out once again. I wrote "a lovely botrytised wine with excellence balance and flavours and a lingering flavour of fruit salad". I treated myself to a second glass - well I had to use up the last of the Festival Francs and what a nice way to finish the day.

I'm going to open the bottle I bought on Christmas Day.

And so to the technical stuff. The chardonnay grapes for this wine had an average brix of 51 when they were hand-harvested from the Clouston vineyard in Martinborough between 27/04/00 and 1/05/00. The grapes were manually crushed and gently pressed in a Sutter 5000 litre membrane press before being cold settled, innoculated with yeast EC 1118 and lees filtered.
25% of the wine was barrel fermented and half of the barrels were new French oak.
The ferment stopped spontaneously having reached just 8.5% alcohol. 250 grammes of residual sugar remained.

At NZ$24 for a 375ml bottle, this wine is a relative bargain for a sweetie of this pedigree.

For more on this wine and the international distributors, check out the Palliser website.


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