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Wine of the Week for week ending 3 March 2002
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Matua Valley Judd Estate Chardonnay 2000
Gisborne, New Zealand

Matua Judd Chardonnay label The wine has a new label. Blades of flax in black on silver reflecting the Patutahi Valley in Gisborne where the grapes for this wine were grown. It's very smart with silver lettering on the spectrum of shades of metallic green. Smart, just like the wine inside the bottle - classic chardonnay from Gisborne, which is delicious, bright and refreshing when served after being in the fridge for 30 minutes to knock the warm edge off it on this hot summer's day.

There are brie-like aromas on the nose and a warm leesy oaky aroma - there's no mistaking the variety with this one.

In the mouth there's peach, melon, fig and corn, a warm leesy backbone and plenty of oak which seems a little dominant at first but pretty soon melds nicely with the rest of the flavours. A bright spark of sherbet along with oak spice on the finish keeps the interest enlivened while a hazelnut nuttiness lingers on the aftertaste.

I have to say this is extremely drinkable and an excellent aperitif for pre dinner drinks then a fitting accompaniment to our dinner of barbecued pork steaks.

I've tasted all the vintages of Matua's Judd Estate Chardonnay dating back to 1987 and the wine seems to have come full circle after some experimental techniques in the mid nineties that didn't seem to work.

The oldest wine, the 1987, was lively and well. Simple treatment in its making is perhaps the key to its long-lived success. The 1989 - touted as a splendid vintage - had fallen over in my opinion. If you have any still in your cellar open and drink now but don't be disappointed if you have left too long as you have been warned. Winemaker Mark Robertson said that was when they started to 'experiment'.

The Matua Judd Estate Chardonnay from the vintage of 2000 is not complicated by experimental winemaking. Winemaker Mark Robertson knows what works best. It's fermented in oak barriques with 15% of the blend undergoing malolactic fermentation to add balance and complexity; the wine remained on its yeast lees for nine months. It is 13% alcohol by volume with 2.1 grams per litre of residual sugar.

Recommended retail is NZ$26.95. It should be widely available. The wine just picked up a silver medal at the Easter Show. That was how the wine showed on the day, a silver medal to match its new silvery label. However the two bottles I have tried so far were definitely of gold medal standard in my book. It's a most pleasurable cha-cha-cha and one that's got and a heap of aging potential ahead as well.

Want to know more - check out the website at

© Sue Courtney

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