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Wine Reviews - Chardonnay
2003 vintage
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 27 May 2008

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Chardonnay notes, listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

Click on year to go to reviews for that vintage
[2008/2007] [2006] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

2003 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension 'The Ascent' Reserve Matakana Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Aromatic with nutty oak aromas, rich, dry and full-bodied with soft oak, citrus and the mealy yeasty flavours from barrel fermentation, this wine has great underlying power with spicy vanillin oak coming forth to leave a savoury aftertaste with a touch of stonefruit sweetness. It was selected to represent the Auckland and Northland region at the "Journey through New Zealand" dinner in Sydney in July 2004. 13.5% alc. $29.95. 8Jul2004.

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Light golden straw in colour with a vitreous lustre, the fragrant aromas are mealy and nutty with a subtle influence of sweet citrussy fruit. Smoky, spicy oak forms the backbone with a lovely integration of fruit. Dry, savoury and slightly grainy in texture, there is lots of leesy influence to the flavour with a nut, fig and stonefruit aftertaste. A beautifully balanced wine with considerable richness, depth and length. 14% alc. $38. 16Dec2004.

Auntsfield Cob Cottage Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) A clean, perfumed aroma leads into a seemingly lighter, fruit-driven wine with good fruit, a touch of spicy oak and a bright lifted finish with citrus, tropical fruit and caramel lingering on the aftertaste. Easy drinking with good flavour throughout. 14% alc. $32.95. 7Jul2005.

Brookfields 'Bergman' East Coast Chardonnay 2003 This lemony oaked wine has a tropical fruit backbone and a lightly fruity creamy finish with a good persistence of flavour. An appealing quaffer with serious appeal. 13% alc. $18. 31Aug2004.

Carrick Central Otago Chardonnay 2003 A lovely creamy wine, slightly nutty aroma, lots of citrus and mealy barrel characters, spicy savoury oak, well balanced, still very young, not overpowering. A versatile wine to go with food as well as drink on its own. 13.8%. 5Oct2004.

Chard Farm Judge & Jury Chardonnay 2003 - Central Otago (sc) Straw gold in colour, bright and clear. Citrussy aromas with hints of grapefruit lead into a palate full of tangelo and stonefruit with classy oak and a sweet fruit finish. It's still very tight and nutty, but the fruit weight is excellent and the finish is long. A beautiful chardonnay with a sophisticated edge. 13.5% alc. $35.95. 7Jun2006.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 Golden coloured with oily, peachy aromas, toasty oak, spice, grapefruit-like citrus and a long savoury finish with a buttery aftertaste. With some months in the bottle the oak, fruit and acid are integrating nicely. Good drinking this summer. 14% alc. $14.95. 4Jan2006.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (c) Light gold coloured with an intriguingly perfumed, sweet-fruited, vanilla bean aroma leading into a full-bodied, grainy textured wine with bold stonefruit, melon and citrus fruit, creamy buttery oak and a long, toasty finish with a sweet, nutty, slightly savoury aftertaste. 14% alc. $34. 5Nov2005.

Dashwood Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) A medium-bodied, lightly oaked fruity style with a creamy influence and lingering citrus flavours, it is slightly nutty with a spicy lift to the crisp finish. 13.5% alc. $17.50. 12Jul2004.

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2003 (c) A big wine with enticing aromatics, a full rich body and a strong citrussy backbone. Wheaty, leesy, a little oily and chock full of peachy flavours with a nice balance of buttery oak and a gorgeous silky texture and although quite tight, the finish is long and ripe. Drink it if you have to, but would be best with a little more evolution. $39. 20Sep2004.

Felton Road Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2003(sc) A medium yellow gold in colour. Nuts, figs and yeasty overtones on the nose. Ripe spicy apricots, figs and citrus with toasty oak in the palate. It's buttery, long and smooth with a full-bodied spicy finish. Apricot flavours linger. Barrel sample. 4Mar2004.
A bright, light gold colour, quite oaky with lots of yeast lees influence on the nose, spicy cinnamon-like oak, stone fruits, spritzy acid that cuts through the creamy, leesy, lanolin-like flavours and a long, dry nutty finish. The goods are all there but it is young and tight right now and needs to evolve to show its best. Screwcap. 14% alc. $35.95. 23Jun2004.

Forrest Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Smoky oak aromas and ripe stonefruit and citrus flavours with a creamy texture, mealy winemaking influences and polished nutty oak on the lingering finish. 13% alc. $19.95. 15Jun2005.

Fossil Ridge Nelson Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Burgundian-like barrel-ferment, leesy, nutty aromas and nutty, malolactic-influenced flavours with nougat, apricot and tropical fruit, and a dry, leesy, spicy finish with underlying acidity and hints of butterscotch as it lingers. 14% alc. $21.95. 12Oct2005.

Framingham Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Creamy and buttery with smoky spicy oak, a lemony leesy backbone and stonefruit richness. Well-balanced, smooth and easy drinking with well-integrated oak flavours, a pleasing aftertaste and a hint of butterscotch as it lingers. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 22Dec2004.

Goldwater Zell Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Rich and mealy, this savoury smelling, full-bodied, toasty, grainy-textured wine is packed with nutmeg-like spices, melted butter, concentrated nectarine and stonefruit, hints of glazed pineapple and a long, sweet oaked finish. Nicely balanced and very satisfying. 13.5% alc. $25.95. 5Nov2005.

Greenhough 'Hope' Nelson Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Quite pale, the youthfulness is belied by the classy smelly, savoury oak aromas. Showing some reduction when first opened, a bit of aeration (tipping from one glass to another several times) allowed it to show its true potential. This is a big wine with rich ripe stonefruit, toffee, nutty oak, figs, spiced pears and a toasty finish with lingering stonefruit. A full-bodied with lovely integration of fruit and oak, there is lots going on. However it is quite tight (at the time of tasting) and I recommend decanting or a little aeration before drinking. 13.5% alc. $30. 16Dec2004.

Greenhough Nelson Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Nutty oak mealy aromas and ripe juicy stonefruit flavours with creamy spicy oak and a touch of malt. A nicely balanced approachable wine with integrated smoky oak and a long savoury finish, the second label to 'Hope'. 13.5% alc. $22. 16Dec2004.

Isabel Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (c) Nutty, yeast lees and slightly oxidative barrel-ferment aromas characterise this broad mealy style that has lots of malolactic influence and a touch of lanolin, making it quite Euro in style especially with the well-integrated fruit making it more savoury than fruity. A big wine with lots of power, some tropical fruit flavours come through to lift and carry the finish. 13.5% alc. $29.95. 16Dec2004.

Karikari Estate Northland Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Toasty scented, creamy oak aromas, a full malo style with a savoury buttery richness mid palate, spicy oak lifting the finish and lingering tropical fruit and citrus with just a touch of pineapple and a touch of lanolin as well. As with the Silver Cloud blend, there's a nice savoury saline trait on the finish. 14% alc. $26. 21Sep2004.

Kina Beach Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Creamy textured with good acidity, nutty spicy oak, melon, citrus and a bready finish, the taste is full and fruity and the warming alcohol send tingles up to the ears. The wine leaves a warm feel and a well-rounded toasty flavour long after the wine has been swallowed. Lovely smooth wine. 14.5% alc. $30. 19Sep2004.

Kumeu River Kumeu Chardonnay 2003 Quite a rich aroma of nuts, oatmeal and fig with a citrussy brightness that carries through to the palate with a grilled stonefruit note in the background - but this wine is totally about savouriness and nuttiness - the fruit and oak play a supporting role in the background. 20Jul2006.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc)Yellow gold, clear, bright. It's developed in the palate with savoury toasty oak, melon and pineapple fruit, a spicy mealy richness and a long, tasty, mouthfilling finish. A gold, bold style. 13% alc. $24.95. 14Apr2007.

Ma Maison Martinborough Chardonnay 2003 (c) Medium gold, showing a little development, rich, full-bodied Burg style with stonefruit and apple, perhaps a hint of pineapple and figs too. Well-integrated. Rich food style. 13%.9Oct2006.

Martinborough Vineyards Chardonnay 2003 (c) Very lactic-influenced with lemon milk and nutty oak aromas and a mealy flavoured palate with stonefruit, melon and citrus. A thick-textured wine with caramel coming through to linger on the finish, it is a big wine that really needs food at this stage of its life. 13.6% alc. $33. 7Jul2005.

Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Sweet oak backed by honey dew melon and stonefruit over the wine's yeasty influenced flavours make this a very enjoyable, easy drinkingstyle with a lightly savoury finish. Very enjoyable with whitebait fritter, chicken and pork. Gimblett Gravels. 12.5% alc. $19.95. 22Nov2004.

Matua Valley 'Ararimu' Gisborne Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Deep gold with lovely sweet oak and juicy fruit aromas, it's creamy and buttery in the mouthfilling palate. A Chardonnay drinker's wine with some almighty underlying power together with tangy lemon biscuit characters, zesty spice and loads of tropical fruit. Just starting to show its age on the finish, which is quite savoury and mealy with load of winey sweetness on the lingering aftertaste. From Judd Estate in Gisborne. My rating 4.5 stars. 13.5% alc. $50. 18Nov2007.

Matua Bay Eastern Bays Chardonnay 2003 (sc) An oily style with some old oak flavours and nutty overtones with subtle melon and a buttery finish. An odd style of Chardonnay. 13% alc. $15.95. 19Dec2004.

Matua Valley Settlers Series Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Fresh and fruity with bright tropical fruits and indiscernible oak. It's made to be served chilled. ***. $10.95. 18Jan2004.

Matua Valley Judd Estate Gisborne Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Delicate nutty aromas, a touch of nougat and fig, just a little closed at first. Stonefruit, tropical fruit, savoury oak, earthy leesy characters and a bright, lifted finish. A nicely balanced, spicy wine with a creamy backbone, a dry finish and lingering sweetly spiced stonefruits. 13% alc. $27.95. 16Dec2004.

Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Pale lemon in colour, fragrantly perfumed and with melons, tropical fruit and hints of sweet toasty oak, this is juicy and citrussy with a soft creamy texture and just a reminder of bubble gum on the finish. A very acceptable aperitif pre-taster though you wouldn't want to drink it all night. 13.5% $14.95. 24Mar2004.

Mount Difficulty Central Otago Chardonnay 2003 (sc) A ripe creamy, well-balanced wine with mealy citrussy notes and a vanilla nutty toasty note to the finish. Good. 5Oct2004.

Mount Maude Chardonnay 2003 A crisp, lemony, leesy wine with a nutty backbone and a leesy lemony finish. 20% new oak, 12.5% alc. 5Oct2004.

Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Light gold in colour, emitting barrel fermented aromas with hints of grapefruit skin and butterscotch, the taste is savoury from the outset with a creamy texture, nicely integrated spicy oak and very subtle stonefruit that becomes a bit bolder on the long, smooth finish. The more the wine is swirled the more the aromas open up and entice with its butterscotch component, while the palate is lifted and fresh. 13.5% alc. 2.3g/L rs. $28.00. 8Jan2005.

Murdoch James Chardonnay 2003 A spicy fruity wine, refreshing and summery. It's a sauv-blanc style of chardonny, no gooseberries as such but just a touch grassy with heaps of lively zesty citrus and juicy tropical fruits on an oily texture with a nutty spiced finish with just a hint of clove. Unoaked? Terrific with salad with lettuce tomato and basil. 14Nov2003.

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Bright light gold. Fragrantly scented, delicate lemon butter. Lots of acidity in the palate. Mealy, creamy, mouthfilling and rich with toasty stonefruit, yellow plum and melon flavours, a nutty oak and great length on the toasty mealy finish with lingering stonefruit it that leaves a very satisfying taste in the mouth. There is a finesse about this wine, that is for sure. 250 cases made. 14.5% alc. $48 ex winery. 10Aug2004.

Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Bright light gold. Leesy, similar to the Moutere but with more immediate barrel fermented richness and concentration. Hints of butterscotch and caramel come through in the palate, it is not really strong in the fruit department, more wheaty than fruity. The finish is long and savoury. Grainy texture and a long full finish. Some people would call this wine 'minerally'. Okay – let this wine open up a bit and there is spicy stonefruit and citrus flavours mingling in with the nutty, savoury, spicy oak. Sophisticated yet deliciously drinkable. 14.5% alc. $26. 10Aug2004.
A more biscuity, toasted white bread chardonnay with fragrant mealy scents and nectarines and white peaches beautifully balanced to the integrated savoury oak. A full-flavoured, mouthfilling chardonnay that is classy and seamless, a wine to grace the table on Christmas Day. 14.5% alc. $28.95. 15Dec2004.

Nga Waka Home Block Martinborough 2003 Buttery smelling, creamy textured, smooth and tasty, ripe and round with spicy oak and a tangy finish. After a while in the glass, tropical fruit emerges with pears and stonefruit while a hint of liquorice adds intrigue, there's a biscuity mealiness in the background and a sweetish, toffee coating wraps up the aftertaste. Lots going on. 13.5% alc. $35. 24May2005.

Nga Waka Martinborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Light gold in colour with savoury aromas over stonefruit and citrussy flavours. Medium-bodied with nice balance of fruit to oak, a leesy, mealy backbone and a touch of stonefruit coming through on the dry, bready finish and just a hint of cold cream. 13.5% alc. $25. 24May2005.

Northrow Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Ripe fruit and toasty oak, rich and full with a creamy malolactic influenced backbone, an easy-going fruity style with some zestiness and spice to the smooth, caramel cream finish. Plenty of immediate appeal. 14% alc. 11Apr2005.
A powerful, rich, mealy wine with toasty oak, stonefruit and a long, tasty, spicy full-bodied finish. It's appealing from the outset and is further enhanced with hints of butterscotch as it lingers. 14% alc. $24.95. 15Jun2005.

Olssen's Charcoal Joe Chardonnay 2003 A more elegant style compared to the 2001 but still quite broad and creamy with nutty oak and tropical fruit sweetness on a leesy mealy palate. Its future looks good. 14.5%.5Oct2004.

Palliser Martinborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Mealy, leesy, full barrel-ferment aromas with a characteristic grapefruit nuance together with tropical fruit on the nose, the leesy barrel ferment flavours fill the palate with spicy vanillin oak and buttery citrus leading to a full, toasty, mellow finish. The aftertaste is nicely savoury with melons and citrus joining honeyed oak. A lovely rounded chardonnay that will have broad appeal. 13.5% alc. $28. 16Dec2004.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Chardonnay 2003 (c) Yellow gold in colour, mealy, cedary scented with rich, full-bodied, lemony, wheaty, mealy flavours and a long full leesy, wild yeast-influenced, buttery, savoury finish. A concentrated, powerful Chardonnay, the result of a tiny vintage in Waipara. 14% alc. $33.95. 1Sep2004.
Yellow gold, quite developed looking and very wheaty in its aromatics, like standing in as golden field of maize with wild yeasts abounding. Smooth and creamy textured with lemon and wheat biscuit flavours, a ton of dried tropical fruit and a long buttery finish, the spritzy acid carries the length for ages. A big, rich wine to match to robust meaty foods, it certainly was the best Chardonnay match to my giant spicy meatballs. 14% alc. $32.95. 16Dec2004.
Deep yellow gold with leesy, mealy citrussy aromas and flavours initially dominated by grapefruit and nutty oak. A full-bodied, barrel-fermented style with all the bells and whistles resulting in a smooth, seamless wine with beautifully proportioned oak and perfectly ripe stonefruit with a hint of pineapple lingering on the long spicy finish. Made in the Burgundian mould but with more obvious fruit. 14% alc. $34.95. 27Jul2005.
Bright yellow gold, aromatic and cedary with smoky, fresh sawn, resinous wood and wild yeast scents, and mouthfilling, rich, oaky flavours with apricot, white peach and ripe apple fruit and lots of creamy, mealy characters. The colour is quite developed for its age. 14% alc. $34.95. 21Dec2005.

Pond Paddock Martinborough 'Woolshed' Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Water pale in colour, the fruit-driven aroma has a touch of varnishy, toasty oak coming through. What I call a 'fruit custard' wine with lots of primary tropical fruit over a creamy custard backbone with a hint of smoke on the finish. A wine that would benefit from a bit more development to let some complexities emerge, or drink now as a carefree quaffer. 12.5% alc. $21.

Rimu Grove Nelson Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Smoky, tropical fruit aromas with a hint of pineapple and a dry, grainy textured palate. It's slightly spritzy at first but smooths out as it builds to a full-bodied finish, with toasty oak and ripe stonefruit as it lingers. There is a Chablis-like elegance about this wine, it is dry with good fruit focus, the oak is integrated and subtle, and the lingering aftertaste is juicy. Very smart. 13.8% alc. $28. 6Mar2006.

Rongopai Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Light gold. Toasty oak and melons on the nose. Big, rich and toasty in the palate, with butterscotch, orange flesh peaches, a warming richness and spicy aftertaste. Mouthfilling and long. Easy drinking. Great for 5 o'clock drinks. 12.5% alc. $10.95. 4May2005.

Saint Clair Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) When I first put this chilled to perfection wine in my mouth, I wondered what the variety was. It was a burst of fruit with citrus and melons on a rich leesy, creamed nut backbone with little influence of oak. I though it could possibly be a full-flavoured rich Pinot Gris. But no, it was Chardonnay. Lightly oaked (50% barel, 50% tank), this is a refreshing, smooth and fruity, a very appealing summer drink. 13.5% alc. 17Jan2004.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 Nutty oak, figs and barrel-ferment aromas, abundant stonefruit and toasty oak flavours, beautifully balanced with a sweet fruit finish and a leesy, mealy, nutty aftertaste. Mouthfilling and more-ish, already delicious to drink. A chardonnay-lover's wine with all the bells and whistles. 14% alc. $29.95. 11Apr2005.

Sanctuary Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) A lightly oaked, fruity wine, its refreshing and zesty with lots of sweet citrus and tropical fruit, oak loitering gently in the background. A fairly simple light-bodied summer afternoon style, best enjoyed very lightly chilled as a beverage wine. $16.95. 9Oct2003.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2003 (sc) A big, golden buttery chardonnay with creamy oak, bold stonefruit, a touch of grapefruit and a spicy toasty finish. A very tasty starter wine and big enough for those who like a 'bigger' chardonnay but not too oaky for those who shy away from too much oak. In fact an all-round crowd-pleaser. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 15Dec2004.
Light gold in colour with a fruity aroma and a creamy textured palate with melon, stonefruit, a touch of hokey pokey and caramel in a lightly toasty malo style. Drinkable, friendly and fattening up nicely. 14% alc. $15.95. 23Feb2005.

Selaks Founders Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (c) Fragrant and cedary with lots of new toasty citrussy oak. Bright mouthfilling of citrus and green melons with good acidity and lovely butterscotch oak on the finish that is integrating nicely but will become more so with time. Mealy, rich savoury and long with juicy tropical fruit lingering. Oak lovers wine. 13.5% alc. $27.95. 18.5/20. 21May2004.
Pale gold, toasty, fragrant, lots of creamy lactic influence, wheaty, rich, spicy vanillin oak, rich, buttery, stone fruits, nectarines, great persistence with a lingering spicy lemon butter. Utterly moreish. 13.5% alc. $28.95. 7Jul2004.
Toasty oak dominates the nose of this bright, luminous, citrine coloured wine, its quite overt and chunky at this youthful stage and needs to settle. Richly textured with stonefruit and melon flavours, a full on cedary finish and lingering flavours of biscuits and nuts with just a touch of citrus, a wine that is going to be an absolute star in a few months time. 13.5% alc. $28.95. 1Sep2004.
Classy, fragrant, French oak driven aromatics lead into stonefruit, nectarine and citrus driven flavours with lots of leesy, mealy barrel-ferment influences that build on the creamy, caramel backbone. A big creamy, oaky style with a wonderful balance of deliciously rich fruit and a long lingering finish. 13.5% alc. $27.95. 20Oct2004.

Selaks Premium Selection Chardonnay 2003 made from a blend of Marlborough and Gisborne fruit, this easy drinking wine has a creamed nut backbone, melon flavours, a touch of spicy oak and lingering tropical fruit with a nuance of pineapple and caramel. 13% alc. $15. 4Jul2004.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Creamy buttery oak scents lead into savoury barrel-fermented flavours, it's quite mealy throughout with stonefruit lingering on the biscuity finish. Long and ripe, it evolves well in the palate. 14% alc. $20.95. 8Sep2004.
Smoky oak aromas with creamy nuances and a hint of hokey pokey lead into a smooth, silky palate with toasty tropical fruit, beautifully integrated smoky oak and a fresh, tangy, fruity finish. There's a warmth to the wine and lingering citrus and apricot. 13.5% alc. $17.95. 9Feb2005.

St Jerome Gisborne Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Deep yellow with a smoky aroma of toasted figs, it's fat and leesy in the palate. A big style, a food style, barrel fermented and in oak for 12 months. Quite a departure from the young sweet oaked numbers around today. 13% alc. $20. 8Oct2006.

Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2003 (c) Medium gold in colour with plenty of oak influence in the rich toasty smelling, buttery aromas. Oak powers through the palate too. It's tight and youthful with good acidity and ripe stonefruit flavours. Spicy oak lingers. A wine to cellar and let evolve to let the oak integrate to the lovely ripe stonefruit flavours that come forth on the finish. 13.5% alc. $25. 29Feb2004.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Chardonnay 2003 Light limey gold with a nutty, mealy, slightly lemony aroma and a crisp, steely, lemony lactic influence at first in the full-bodied, richly textured palate. It's very tight but it opens up well with lots of mealy influences, nicely proportioned lemony oak and a smooth, creamy, bready finish with a hint of grapefruit. I don’t like the entry but I sure like the finish. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 11Aug2006.

Tasman Bay Vintage Selection Chardonnay 2003 (c) A beautifully balanced, light gold coloured mouthfilling, oak-fermented wine with grapefruit zest, citrus, juicy stonefruits and savoury oak, mealy and mouthfilling, full-bodied, slightly buttery, harmonious in its delivery and flow with excellent length. Made from a blend of Marlborough and Nelson grapes, this is a classy wine, lovely to drink on its own or to enjoy with food. 18.5/20. 7Mar2004.

Te Kairanga Reserve Martinborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Smoky, mealy, slightly milky aromas with a muted toastiness and hints of tropical fruits. In the palate there's dusty, cedary oak and although only 20% new oak was used, it's a big toasty number. Grilled stonefruit with melon and tropical fruit emerge to linger on the finish but overall the wine is dry, lean and flinty, and needs time. 13.5% alc. $32. 11Apr2005.

Te Mata Elston Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2003 (c) Elegantly restrained, light yellow gold in colour, dry and savoury to the taste with lovely weight and length, it's a complex wine with mouthfilling mealy, golden peach flavours and a savoury, beautifully oaked finish. A wine that has had full barrel-ferment, full malolactic and weekly yeast lees stirring and combines all these traits beautifully with nothing overpowering. 13.5% alc. $38.95. 1Sep2004.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2003 (c) Light gold, lees influenced, mealy, smoky, it appears to have a lot of work for a wine of this price. A dry fruity wine with soft ripe peachy stonefruit and a fine seam of lime-like acidity providing length. Barrel and tank fermented. 13.5% alc. $22. 24Feb2004.

Te Whare Ra Duke of Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Toasty, caramelly to the nose with a creamy oily texture, stonefruits, nectarine, spicy oak and a nutty aftertaste with zesty citrus flavours lingering. The palate is long and full, the fruit weight is good and the acids have softened enough so it will take chilling this summer. 14% alc. $21.95. 15Sep2004.

Tohu Gisborne Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Spicy oak aromas and lifted citrussy flavours with hints of grapefruit at first, it becomes quite toasty and creamy with a mealy backbone and tropical fruit filling the palate. A well-balanced clean wine with good fruit concentration and a long, nutty, butterscotch finish. 13.5% alc. $21.95. 15Jun2005.

Twin Islands Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Seems quite oaky at first with the creamy influence of malolactic fermentation on the nose. Perfumed in the middle with clean flavours of tropical fruit tending to banana passionfruit, and a hint of pineapple on the slightly oily finish. A simple style but it has its place and you can’t argue with the special price. 13% alc. $14.95. 19May2004.

Vavasour Awatere Valley Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Smooth, rich and full-bodied with nutty oak, cornmeal, lemon butter, melon and stonefruit all beautifully integrated into a classy bundle, the oak is not intrusive and good acidity lifts the finish. Lots going on. Lovely mouthfeel and length. Drink now or cellar. Match to food for best enjoyment. 14% alc. $27. 8Jul2004.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Fruit driven, tropical, creamy aromas. A youthful wine with a nice touch of butterscotch/caramel and bright apricot and juicy citrus fruit. Smoky leesy savoury notes linger on the long creamy finish. (Tbr Dec 2004) 14.5% alc. 19Oct2004.
A beautifully sophisticated chardonnay in a big full mealy, barrel fermented style that is packed with caramel, ripe fruit and lots of toasty oak with plenty of malo influence, a smooth creamy texture and apricot and custard on the sweet yet spicy nutty oak finish and a smoky aftertaste. Good acidity will ensure a long life. 14% alc. $34.95. 16Mar2005.
Alluring buttered oak and melon on the nose with a honeyed floral toastiness. Silky and seamless in the palate with beautifully proportioned French oak, juicy citrus and stonefruit, backed up by a savoury, mealy, creamy backbone with a long elegant finish. Fabulous concentration of flavour and beautifully balanced acidity that lifts the fragrant finish. 14% alc. $32.95. 12Aug2005.
Leesy grapefruit-like aromas lead into a rich, full-bodied, toasty palate that is rich, creamy and sophisticated with lots of winemaking influence from barrels and lees stirring, peach, citrus and melon fruit and a deliciously long, toasty, concentrated finish. Bottle age adds to the savoury complexity while the acidity keeps a fresh edge. 14% alc. $34.95. 23Nov2005.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2003 - Hawkes Bay (sc) Full of winemaking wizardry, the creamy malo and barrel fermented oaky characters seduce the nose. Lovely roundness and ripeness in the palate with lots of spicy oak and wheaty, wild yeast flavours joining the rich citrus and melon fruit with a hint of butterscotch on the finish and terrific length. Still quite tight with good acidity, this is a wine for the long haul. 14% alc. $36.95. 17Nov2004.

Villa Maria Reserve Waldron Chardonnay 2003 - Marlborough (sc) Full of delicious mealy savoury winemaking flavours with smoky oak, fat peachy fruit and a ripe, rounded, toasty finish. A powerful wine with lots of spice and malolactic influence, made for the long term. Very classy. The wine for Saturday night dinner. 14% alc. $36.95. 23Mar2005.
Light yellow gold with a gemmy adamantine lustre, the yeasty, smoky, toasty aromas are infused with mealy, leesy, bready yeasts and the texture has the graininess of pure silk with a glycerol richness. Full-bodied and rich with savoury oak, hot butter, grilled peaches and nectarines with a lacing of citrus acidity, this is a beautifully crafted wine with the smokiness of the oak a distinguishing feature and melon coming through to linger on the slightly musky, mealy aftertaste. 14% alc. $32.95. 12Aug2005.

Waipara Hills Unoaked Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Almost water pale in colour and a little nutty on the nose, it's crisp and refreshing with citrus, melon and tropical guava, a little oily in texture and a touch of spice on the dryish finish. Served slightly chilled for delicious, carefree, summer drinking. 6Nov2003.

Waipara West Chardonnay 2003 A pale coloured, leesy, nutty, mellow, yeasty flavoured wine with buttered toast, a hint of marmite, tropical fruits and a citrussy finish. Quite lean, a little clumsy and disappointing in this line-up of top chardonnays. 13.5% alc. $27.95. 15Jun2005.

West Brook Blue Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 Light gold in colour with smoky oak, ripe citrus and stonefruit, a rich mealy backbone and a long toasty finish with a good whack of buttery citrus on the long mealy, mouthfilling finish. 14.5% alc. $23.95 special. 21Sep2005.
Light yellow gold. Creamy, slightly citrussy aromas and rich, mealy, barrel-fermented flavours with spicy oak fill the palate with melon, apricot and tangelo fruit. The yeast is savoury and spicy builds on the long mouth-filling finish. 14.5% alc. $24.95. 18Jan2006.
Yellow gold with a lime glint. Savoury oak on the nose, oily textured, mealy and spicy in the palate with a touch of pineapple, lots of grapefruit and savoury biscuity oak. It's rich and full with spicy buttery oak lingering on the finish. 14.5% alc. $24.95.29Mar2006.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 A light gold, fruit-driven, creamy wine with fruit salad, nectarines and a hint of passionfruit - passionfruit crème brulee. Not a big toasty style, the spicy oak is delicate and well-integrated, emitting a smoky nuance as it lingers. Not a big toasty style, more of an aperitif style with a citrussy finish. Very clean. Aperitif style. 12.5% alc. $22.95. 4May2005.
Bright straw gold, savoury poached stonefruit and nutty smelling aromas and fresh young flavours of spicy oak, fruit salad and citrus on a mealy backbone with a long, creamy, toasty finish. 12.5% alc. $19.95. 1Feb2006.

William Hill Central Otago Chardonnay 2003 (c) Ripe fruit, spicy oak, smoky oak, another approachable easy drinking style from William Hill. 14%.5Oct2004.

William Hill Central Otago Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Quite shy on the nose at first, when the aromas open up they are reminiscent of freshly harvested apricots. Steely in the palate at first but quite juicy with a lightly viscous texture, delicate lemon and apricot fruit and a creamy toasty richness that fills out as it lingers. Just a slight herbal nuance on the spicy aftertaste, think pineapple sage and apple. 14% alc. $23. 11Apr2005.

Wither Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (cork) Light gold. Fairly closed on the nose at first, then smoky, buttery, butterscotch characters emerge. Creamy and mellow with fleshy melon fruit, spicy oak, a slight spritziness and a grainy texture leading into a long, flavoursome finish packed with stonefruit and vanilla. It opens up in the glass to become bright and vibrant with a smoky overtone. 14% alc. $30.95. 29Nov2004.

Wither Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc) Bright, clear, light gold. Abundant creamy vanillin oak and stonefruit on the aromatic nose. Soft, mellow, full-bodied flavours with a smooth, creamy texture and stonefruit, citrus, spicy vanillin oak and caramel, a toastiness emerges to linger on the lifted, spicy finish. Very ripe, rounded and mouthfilling. 14% alc. $30.95. 29Nov2004.
Mealy smelling with smoky oak and lifted flavours from the nicely balanced acidity in the form of juicy exotic tropical fruits and citrus. Creamy textured with plenty of oak spice, it builds to a mouthfilling rich buttery finish with hints of caramel as it lingers. 14% alc. $30.95. 23Mar2005.

[2008/2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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