edited by Sue Courtney
Wine Reviews - Chardonnay
Wine Reviews - Chardonnay
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.
[2008/2007]        [1999 and older] [index]
Allan Scott Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Fruity, spicy but kind of estery with tropical fruit, melon and a bright lifted citrussy finish with a mealy, savoury note as it lingers. $17. 19Sep2005.
Allan Scott Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Sweet oak and leesy malolactic influences with a fine backbone of citrus fruit with fleshier stonefruit on the warm finish. With its medium body and well-balanced fruit/oak/malo regime, this is a tasty likeable wine. 14%. $21. 18Sep2006.
Alpha Domus Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Creamy oak and delicate mealy scents on nose. Quite mealy in palate in the creamy textured palate with stonefruit and melon overpowered by strong lactic notes at this stage of its life. Oak is very subtle. 13.5% alc. $24. 30Sep2006.
Ascension The Ascent Matakana Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold with a savoury, honeyed, spicy oak aroma and a savoury, mealy backbone to the delicate pineapple and more concentrated pear fruit. It's full-bodied and creamy with a savoury nutty finish and a slight estery note that imparts a fruity chewing gum character to the finish - however this does not detract. An excellent example of what Matakana can produce.14% alc. $29.95. 12Aug2006.
Astrolabe Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold in colour, it's a little shy on nose but tastes full-bodied and complex with savoury, wheaty barrel-worked flavours, a touch of fig and hazelnut. It's very dry with a graininess to the texture, citrus is the dominant fruit and a butterscotch richness fills the toasty, finish. 14% alc. $29.99. 30Nov2006.
Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Stonefruit and mellow Burgundian barrel scents. Rich, full-bodied, dry and spicy, stonefruit, nectarine, tangelo peel and lots of leesy, mealy, winemaking intricacies to the warm palate that has a touch of graininess to the texture and a wheaty leesy finish. Sophisticated. 13.5%. $38. 18Sep2006.
Auntsfield 'Cob Cottage' Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Big, rich, toasty and oaky, this powerful, full-bodied style is reminiscent in some ways of a Hawkes Bay monster that is almost three times the price. Nutty Burgundian oak, spices and ripe peachy fruit with an underpinning of apricot, the texture is creamy and the finish is long. 14% alc. $33.75. 4Sep2007.
Awhitu Peninsula Chardonnay 2005 (c) A lightly oaked, oily textured wine that has had full malolactic treatment. It's nutty and citrussy to the taste with a hint of grapefruit and a peachy richness to the finish, which takes on a character a little like a 'village' level Chablis. 13.8% alc. $24.50. 14Oct2007.
Bach 22 Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A light fruity wine with little oak influence but vibrant in its melon and juicy tropical fruit flavours with a creaming soda backbone, a soft, full texture and a bright, fresh finish. Made for summer but perfect in autumn as an aperitif, lunchtime or first course wine but don't overchill at this time of year. 12.5% alc. $11.95. 20May2007.
Black Barn Barrel Fermented Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A big, bold, toasty wine with a golden colour, creamy oak, stonefruit, a touch of grapefruit and lots of barrel-ferment and yeast lees flavours. Quite different to the trophy winning 2004 but full, rich, smooth and tasty with butterscotch emerging in a big way on the moreish, spicy, full-bodied finish. 13.7% alc. $37.99. 14Feb2007.
Bouldevines Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Lightly oaked with 25% of the wine undergoing barrel fermentation and heavy lees stirring. It's a light fresh style crammed with stonefruit in the form of juicy peach and nectarine with an underpinning of citrus and a creamy leesy finish that builds on the palate to become rich and flavoursome but never big and oaky. Very drinkable. 14% alc. $21. 8Oct2006.
Cable Bay Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright lemon gold, youthful for its age. Serious oak on the nose, a hint of apricot too. It smells dry, nutty and a little mealy with a hint of nougat. Rich and full-bodied to the taste with alcohol adding sweetness but with a surprisingly light, lemon meringue finish. Savoury, mealy nutty characters are to the fore and carry through to the lasting aftertaste. Now, even almost four years since harvest, the wine is still evolving. 14.5% alc. $34.00 5Feb2009.
Cape Campbell Limited Edition Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold, clear and bright with a wheaty, yeasty aroma and spritzy, bitey, slightly burnt butter flavour at first that quickly fills out with melon, stonefruit and nutty oak on an oily texture to build to a long, rich, full-bodied finish. Very smart with lots of leesy, barrel-ferment influence. A wine that will evolve beautifully, I'm sure. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 7Jun2006.
Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Golden coloured with apricots galore to the savoury, mealy aromas and flavour, this juicy fruit driven style that has a nectar-like feel to the slippery texture with underlying oak and spicy yeast lees adding flamboyance. It's long, rich, toasty and utterly decadent and drinking beautifully right now and best of all, it's perfect for chilling - it tones down the apricot fruit and enhances the rich, toasty butterscotch finish. 14.5% alc. $19.99.26Sep2007.
Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A light gold colour introduces this sophisticated, savoury, full-bodied wine with polished French oak and a mealy, nutty depth. It's creamy, elegant and delicately spicy although subtle to start, it opens up beautifully to reveal an orchard of succulent stonefruit and oaky flavours in a most appealing way. A touch of underlying acidity adds brightness and length. Stylish, classy and seamless in its flow. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 3Oct2007.
Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Creamy, leesy, barrel aromas fill the nose and lead into to a spicy mouthful of grapefruit peel, wheat germ, grilled stonefruit and smoky oak. It's very tight right now with a strong malolactic influence but with its excellent palate weight it becomes richer and richer with every mouthful and will be absolutely glorious in about 12 months time. 14% alc. $31.99. 11Oct2006.
Corbans Homestead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Very pale straw. Fruity, citrus and apple peel aromas and grapefruit-like flavours with a spicy, light-weight fruit-driven backbone and lingering flavours of pears and stonefruit. Dry but just a little short with an earthiness to the finish. 13% alc. $13.95. 6Mar2006.
Clearview Beachhead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold. Steely, earthy, slightly tropical aromas with a touch of smoke and citrus and a rich, smooth palate with smoky oak, spice, melon stonefruit and toasty caramel on the long, mouthfilling finish. It's ripe and rounded with a lovely mouthfeel and although there's some grip to the finish, it should develop nicely. 14% alc. $18. 6Mar2006.
Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light rich gold. Toasty, biscuity aroma with a hint of grapefruit and rich, fat flavours full of ripe peach and tropical fruit. It's ripe and rounded, big and flavoursome, with the concentrated fruit an outstanding character of this wine. The fruit melds into the spicy oak and malolactic plays a part adding a creamy butterscotch character to the mellow finish which goes on and on. In one word, 'excellent'. 14.5% alc. $37. 12Aug2006.
Clearview Unwooded Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Lemon gold in colour and oily smelling, like citrus oil extract with hints of vanilla and vitamin B. It's spritzy in the palate, the vitamin B character becoming quite strong, a crisp riesling-like acidity, apples on the finish, alcoholic warmth and a lingering vanillin note. Tried the wine again two days later to find some nice peachy fruit characters had developed. It was overall more balanced with a juicy finish. 14.5% alc. $22. 6Mar2006.
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) With creamy vanillin oak, musk and a savoury complexity to the aroma, even a hint of mushroom, this is a deeply coloured and richly flavoured classy chardonnay with a citrussy backbone to the rich barrel-ferment flavours with toastiness balanced by zest that adds a lovely freshness. A mouth enveloping wine with a touch of caramel and excellent length. Very smart. 14.5% alc. $35.95. 13May2007.
Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005 Light lemon gold. Spicy, creamy, a little sherbetty on the nose, it's creamy, soft and subtle in the palate with beautifully integrated spicy oak, some malolactic characters, concentrated stonefruit and a rich, powerful, expansive finish with hints of citrus. 14% alc. $27.99. 14Mar2007.
Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 Light greenish gold in colour, this smells and tastes so different to the previous two chardonnays because it has been fermented with wild yeasts and aged on those yeasts' lees. It's full of nutty oak and lemony leesy characters with spiced honey and citrus, an oily texture and a long, rounded, cool, juicy finish. Rich in flavour with excellent length, and it takes chilling very well. 14% alc. $32.99. 7Feb2007.
Dry River Amaranth Chardonnay 2005 - Martinborough A nutty, lees-influenced wine, clear and bright in colour with a straw gold hue and a beautifully fragrant but delicate honeysuckle aroma intermingling with lemon and grapefruit pith and mellow Burgundian oak. Totally dry to the taste, the sweetness of fleshy melon and tropical fruit pushes through with nutmeg spice and sates the palate with its full-bodied, rich warmth. There's an underpinning of citrus and then a hint of salinity (which some people would call minerality) that adds interest to the fine, focused finish where the creamed nut characters of the mellow oak re-emerge for an encore before gently fading away. A beautiful wine, begging to be sipped and savoured. 13% alc. Release price $41.50. 17Sep2006.
Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Straw yellow. Creamy oak aromas and savoury, nutty, mealy flavours are underpinned by vibrant citrus and white peach with spicy barrel ferment oak flavours loitering softly in the background and building to a savoury finish. 13% alc. $16.99. 15Nov2006.
Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Deep gold coloured, this is quite tight and restrained with a nutty, minerally aroma and yeasty, savoury flavours with a salty, spicy tang - it seems to be all about winemaking at this stage of its life. Underlying stonefruit, sweet citrus and melon are relegated to the back row right now, but as the wine opens up in the glass, the fruit moves forward to mingle with a bready richness in a very tantalising way. Quite exciting with scampi tortellini and a pomegranate and lemon salad - but way too powerful for crayfish. 13.5% alc. $35. 14Aug2007.
Felton Road Elms Central Otago Chardonnay 2006 (sc) Lightly smoky with a mealy scent emerging, thereís a honeyed richness to the palate with stonefruit, spice, toffee and a yeast lees complexity. Even though it is unoaked, it is full-bodied in style and the finish is spicy, lifted and long. 14% alc. $26.99 . 6Dec2006.
Five Flax East Coast Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Pale straw. Fruity smelling and light, fresh, nicely balanced fruity flavours with a light to medium-bodied supporting backbone of smoky spicy oak and citrus, pineapple and stonefruit lingering on the clean juicy aftertaste. With its crisp acidity it is a 'drink now' style, or match to seafood or chicken. Made from Gisborne fruit. 13.1% alc. $11.95. 6Mar2006.
Foxes Island Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold. Fragrant, nutty, smoke and citrus oil aromas, it's quite leesy and mealy, nutty and savoury with hints of stonefruit and citrus and a warm oaky finish with a powerful aftertaste. Quite Burgundian in style. 14% alc. $34.99. 14Mar2007.
Gem Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Pale in colour with an aroma of red apple, pears and crushed grapes, the apple and pear carry through to the slightly sweetish palate where apple acidity adds a zingy note to the finish. This is chardonnay but it tastes like a slightly oxidised, full-bodied, lightly smoky, Pinot Gris. It could be the wild ferment that is taking this wine along a different track to what we are used to. 13% alc. $26.95. 26Apr2006.
Gibbston Valley Greenstone Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light, yeasty, estery, juicy fruity fruit style with a creamy aftertaste. Easy going and fresh.. Made from a blend of Marlborough and Central Otago fruit. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 22Aug2005.
Goldwater Zell Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright, clear gold with smoky, nutty oak aromas and creamy, toasty, nutty, spicy oak flavours with melon, stonefruit and citrus. Lean and focused with a well-rounded lingering finish. Classy stuff. 14% alc. $30.99. 13Dec2006.
Gunn Estate Windburn Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Straw gold with lemon biscuit on the nose and plenty of upfront acidity in the palate, it is tight with grainy textured nutty oak but like the previous wine, it opens up to reveal its rich peachy fruit that builds to a fleshy, full-bodied finish with spicy oak lingering. With more time, or with less of the winter chilling, it will become rather moreish. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 7Jun2006.
Gunn Estate Skeetfield Hawkeís Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright yellow gold, perfumed, almost floral with apricots and sweet cedar adding to the aromatic allure. Apricots in the palate too with bright acidity, sweet creamy oak, spice and zest. Leesy, biscuity characters emerge, itís quite expansive in the palate and the finish is long, creamy, citrussy and harmonious. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 14Mar2007.
Hyperion Helios Chardonnay 2005 - Matakana Dry, lightly-oaked style with subtle apricot aromas and a crisp steely palate, the spiciness of the French oak coming through to linger on the finish. There's a slightly oily richness emerging with apricot and tropical fruit making a statement. Clean and straight forward. Barrel-fermented and on lees for 5 months. $23. 19Feb2006.
Jackson Estate Shelter belt Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light lemon gold, with appealing savoury oak and hints of butterscotch on the nose and spicy, full-bodied, citrussy flavours with hints of toffeed peaches and caramel. Milky / creamy flavours resulting from malolactic fermentation are quite evident and the finish is dry, savoury and biscuity with plenty of spicy cedar and a high-toned, fruity aftertaste. 13.5% alc. $22.50. 7Jul2007.
Kahurangi Mt Arthur Nelson Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright light gold. Perfumed cashew and citrus on the nose and a crispness to the taste with figs, apricot and a touch of citrus on a nutty creamy backbone that builds to a lovely, rounded, toasty finish. Very exciting at the price. 14% alc. $15.99. 2Aug2006.
Karikari Estate Chardonnay 2005 - Northland (sc) Light gold coloured, full of buttery oak on the nose and rich buttery toasty oak in the palate, this soft, rounded, creamy chardonnay is brimming with stonefruit that morphs to juicy tropical fruit on the long, creamy, nutty finish that has excellent length. 13% alc. $27.99. 13Sep2006.
Kim Crawford Briant Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold, crisp and fresh with nut covered vanilla ice cream on the nose and a touch of hokey pokey in the palate with a side of buttered lemon, golden toast and a long savoury finish. There's a good balance of oak and fruit in a medium-bodied style. 13.5% alc. $13.95. 31May2006.
Kim Crawford SP Tietjen Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A light, bright, typically Gisborne Chardonnay with lots of fresh tropical fruit balanced to toasty, buttery oak and a long, creamy finish. $29.95. 9Nov2005.
Kumeu River Kumeu Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold. Delicate barrel-ferment nuances add allure to the savoury, mealy scent. Very tight-grained, leesy, mealy and spicy with a lemon bread backbone, tropical fruit, pineapple, a touch of tangelo and nectarine. As it opens up, citrus zest creates an earthy, edgy undercurrent to the savoury backbone and the finish is long and generous. A serious wine that needs more time. 13.5% alc. $36. 20Jul2006.
Kumeu River Mate's Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A little more concentration to the bright, light gold colour and a lot more complexity to the aroma, which offers concentrated stonefruit, citrus blossoms, nuts and delicate toasty oak scents. Quite mellow wheaty notes in the savoury, delicately honeyed palate that has concentrated pear and nectarine fruit with orange zest and lots of vinous complexity. Very dry with gorgeous mouthfeel, it bodes well for the future. 13% alc. $47. 20Jul2006.
Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold in colour with nutty, savoury, mealy, lemon bread aromas that show little influence of oak - the aromas carry through to the palate that has a lightly glycerolic texture, lots of cornmeal, bright but delicate tropical fruit with a toastiness emerging and lemon blossom adding brightness to the finish. It's 100% barrel-ferment in older oak, which adds spiciness and complexity with minimal oak flavour. This is the lightest of the three and if being compared to a French wine, it would be closer to a Chablis style than anything else. It's ready to drink and enjoy now. 13% alc. $18. 20Jul2006.
Lawson's Dry Hills Unoaked Chardonnay 2005 (sc) An excellent example of a complex, unoaked style. Medium gold in colour with rich, concentrated, exotic fruited aromas and a dry, tasty, reasonably complex medium to full-bodied palate filled with pineapple bread with a twist of citus and herbs, while stonefruit arrives in abundance to fill out the long, fruity finish. 13% alc. $19.95. 7Nov2006.
Lindemans NZ Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light and fruity with just a touch of oak and a soft finish. 13% alc. $14.95. 25Sep2006.
Marsden Estate Black Rocks Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Tantalisingly perfumed with smoky French oak, hints of caramel and toasted marshmallow, the wine envelopes the palate with its rich texture and flavours of grilled peaches, nectarines and classy French oak with bubblegum-like tropical fruit and youthful oak esters. There's a spicy yeast lees richness to the smooth backbone of the wine and the soft creamy finish is long and lasting. Powerful, but not overpowering. 13.5% alc. $35. 13May2007.
Matariki Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 Bright lemon gold with lemon sherbet and buttered popcorn on the nose and lots of barrel-ferment and savoury yeast lees, wheaty characters to the fore in the palate with figs, stonefruit, a touch of pineapple and oak spice. Tight and perhaps a little restrained, itís a brand new wine with plenty of life ahead of it. 13% alc. $39.95. 19Jul2006.
Matua Valley Matheson Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A light to medium golden colour, there's smoky tropical fruit and spicy oak on the nose and bright spicy fruit in the palate. A big, ripe, rich, creamy wine with a well-structured citrussy undercurrent, if you like oak, you'll like this wine. It will benefit from a slosh in a decanter too. 12.5% alc. $20.95. 11Aug2007.
Matua Valley 'Settler' Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A simple, one-dimensional, light-bodied, almost watery wine. There's a hint of stonefruit and a hint of oak and a slightly mellow cheesy character on the slightly oxidised, apple-like, struck match finish. finish. Disappointing. 13% alc. 4g/l rs. $10-$12. 7Jul2007.
Matua Valley Shingle Peak Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc)Clean, citrussy aromas with a light oak backing and little oak apparent in the palate, a fresh, fruity wine with peach to the fore and light vanillin oak emerging on the finish. Good for afternoon or pre-dinner drinking. 13% alc. $17.95. 5May2005.
Maven Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Pale gold coloured with fragrant, nutty aromas and ripe, juicy tropical fruit on a dry oaky backbone with juicy fruit chewing gum flavours lingering on the long, ripe, mealy finish. Good acidity throughout. You need to buy eight bottles of this wine to see the whole range of labels, as they have eight different labels on the chardonnay alone. Now that will be a talking point for your next wine geek dinner party. Serve this early in the meal with a lighter course. 13% alc. $23.95. 7Jun2006.
Mills Reef Elspeth Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light rich gold. Quite closed, lemony leesy aromas but what it lacks on the nose is made up for in the palate. Rounded and full-bodied with a creamy, savoury, leesy influence, spicy oak, pear, peach and tropical fruit, this is rich and concentrated, mouthfilling, vibrant and very tasty. 14% alc. $29.95. 11Aug2006.
Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Golden hued, bright and clear with rich buttery oak aromas and ripe toasty flavours on a creamed almond backbone with toasty citrus and stonefruit and a long mouthfilling, savoury finish. Already delicious drinking. 14% alc. $16.99. 2Aug2006.
Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (D) A classy, full-bodied style with toasted nutty oak, stonefruit and figs and a long, seamless palate and loads and loads of flavour and a citrussy creamy finish. It's fattening up beautifully with just a touch of caramel adding to its richness. Totally delicious and ready now. 14% alc. $18.99. 11Oct2006.
Montana Waihirere Chardonnay 2005 - Ormond, Gisborne (sc) Far more Burgundian in style with nutty oak, figs and nougat, it's rich, creamy and savoury with a grapefruit nuance to the barrel-fermented oak aromas and a toastiness to the nutty, mealy flavours with Gisborne's signature tropical fruit on the long, dry, savoury, full-bodied finish. Elegance and class. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 21Nov2007.
Morton Estate Private Reserve Chardonnay 2005 - Hawkes Bay (sc) Deep yellow gold and opulently scented with toasty oak, peachy fruit and a rich, toasty, spicy Chardonnay flavour. A totally full-on wine crammed with stone fruit and tropical fruit with a creamy richness and a butter-laden savoury finish. A must for fans of the 'big' style. 14.5% alc. $17.99. 26Mar2008.
Mother Cluckers Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Clean and youthful with a fruity peach aroma, there's plenty of brash fruity brightness to the creamy textured flavours with citrus, pineapple, a mealy undercurrent and a touch of butterscotch to the finish. Made by Coopers Creek, most people would never guess it was unoaked. Made by Coopers Creek. 13.5% alc. $10.99. 13Feb2008.
Mount Michael Bessie's Block Central Otago Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Medium gold in colour, bright and gemmy in appearance, it smells like a rich, luscious style with its creamy lees and barrel fermented aromas. It's a big, rich luscious style, with spicy, cedary oak, grilled stonefruit, a smooth texture and a soft finish. There's a savoury, mealy undercurrent and a hint of citrus as it lingers. Fulfilling and moreish with a honeyed mealy oak richness and a mouthfilling spicy aftertaste. Served with a crayfish bisque the sweetness and saltiness of the seafood really compliments the savoury richness of the wine and lifts it to an exceptional level. 14% alc. $24. 2Nov2006.
Mt Cass Barrique Fermented Waipara Chardonnay 2005 (D) Ripe, light and fruity with dried banana-like tropical fruit and bubble gum esters to the fore, it's smoky with creamy oak and stonefruit filling the palate with a subtle leesy complexity. Marred by a slightly bitter finish, this is a lighter style of chardonnay without too much complexity. 13% alc. $24. 27Apr2007.
Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold. Tropical fruit on nose, full of ripe citrus fruit in palate with a grainy texture, crisp and fresh, reminiscent of a Chablis with its nutty undercurrent and steeliness throughout. White peach starts to flood the palate and the finish is bright and zesty. Next day it seems much creamier but still has the Chablis-like flintiness with a hint of apple joining tropical fruit. Very smart. 14.7% alc. $29.95. 27Apr2007.
Mystery Creek Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A moderate yellow gold in colour, this big, rich, oaky style has loads of buttery oak on the nose and toasty, buttery flavours in the palate with melon and fig and lots of spicy lees influence. It's a bold style with a long, creamy, butter caramel finish. 13.9% alc. $29.95. 29Feb2008
Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold with creamy oak, citrus and nectarines on the nose, this is a crisp, high acid wine with apple-like flavours mixing in with citrus and stonefruit. High-toned with a hint of butterscotch, milky Burgundian-like oak and a spiced lemon leesy backbone, the finish is long and savoury. Very closed and a little dull when first opened, it benefits from decanting at this stage of its life. 13.5%. $25. 7Jul2007.
Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2005 - Nelson(sc) Bright, light gold. Creamy/milky/malo aromas layered with grilled stonefruits and caramel carry through to palate to be joined with toasty oak, tobacco and spice with hints of apricot pushing through the tight citrussy backbone and a butterscotch richness to finish. It's very dry and very focussed and although quite tight at the moment, it will become a beautiful big rich wine with a little more time. The long term potential shows on the finish, which is very, very moreish when the glass is emptied. Oh what the heck, commit vinfanticide if you have to this Xmas because it's pretty hard to resist. 14.5% alc. $69.99. 13Dec2006.
Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold in colour, this wine seems very tight at first. There's a nutty aroma with a hint of lime and grapefruit in the distance and although tight in the palate it is beautifully structured with apricot fruit pushing through the spicy leesy backbone, beautifully proportioned nutty oak and a long rich savoury finish. Very classy and top Chardonnay so far. 14% alc. $32.95. 7Jun2006.
Nobilo Icon Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (c) Light gold coloured with smoky oak aromas and big, rich, creamy flavours, it's nutty, oily and spicy with a mouthfilling caramel/butterscotch richness and a long tasty finish with peach, citrus and a grilled pineapple brightness. 14% alc. $19.99. 27Jul2007.
Odyssey Reserve Iliad Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 Yellow gold in colour, a deeper yellow than expected for the vintage, it smells slightly oxidised and I suspect it might be. So I check a smidgen of wine left from another bottle poured to tasters on the other side of the room. This is lighter in colour and although it still has rather expansive aromas, they seem to be derived more from the yeast lees and barrel ferment wine making processes. It's a powerful wine with lots of acidity. Flavours of apricot juices and nutty oak come to the fore with hints of underlying tropical fruit. The texture is tight and grainy, and malty flavours linger on the savoury finish. It needs to integrate further at this stage of its life. 13.5% $36.95. 7Jun2006.
Okahu Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Deepish gold. Buttery American oak aroma with a hint of stone fruit and sweet oak flavours with lots of buttered caramel corn and tropical fruit. This blend of Hawkes Bay and Northland grapes has 5 o'clock drinkability and appeal. 13% alc. $26. ***. 3Nov2007.
Passage Rock Barrel Fermented Canterbury Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Clear bright yellow gold in colour with smoky, barrel-fermented aromas and mouthfilling rich, buttery flavours full of spicy, mealy dominant characters that subdue the melon-like fruit. The finish is long and fresh with tropical fruit lingering. 13% alc. $17.95. 10May2006.
Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Mid yellow gold with a nutty, leesy grapefruit-tinged aroma, this is a beautifully polished wine with a refined silky texture and full-bodied flavours full of sweet fruit highlighted with fine citrus acidity and a dry, bready, cedar finish. It seems to be a departure from the typical bold, outgoing, Pegasus Bay style, but wait, it does have that wheaty oatmeal character that we know and love and butter toffee emerges to linger on the finish. A little tight at this stage, it will mature for about 6 months more in the bottle before release. 14% alc. N/A. 26Jul2006.
Pegasus Bay Virtuoso Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Deep golden coloured with a powerful wheaty aroma and even more powerful flavours. It tastes rich, creamy, meaty, buttery, creamy, spicy and savoury with concentrated peach-like fruit, a modicum of citrus, cedar and loads and loads of sweet mealiness, even though the wine is dry. Wow! This wine totally has it all. Just one sip - and the flavour lasts and lasts and lasts in the mouth. Waipara Valley. 14% alc. $48.95. 25Dec2007.
Richardson Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Toasty, creamy, soft and savoury on the nose and creamy and mellow in the palate - at first - with spicy oak, a fine underpinning of citrussy fruit, a full-bodied, mouthfilling, ripe fruited finish and a savoury, smoky aftertaste. It has had complete natural ferment in older oak and although it is absolutely delicious to drink right now, the tight grainy backbone hints at excellent cellaring potential. Rated as sensational, this could be a benchmark wine for Michelle. 13.5% alc. $36. 15Aug2006.
Rimu Grove Nelson Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Golden yellow. Creamy oak and mealy yeast lees characters on the nose and powerful, buxom oak in the palate that gives the wine a forceful presence. There's lots of butter among the oatmeal flavours and underlying acidity adds brightness to the sweet, juicy finish. 14.4% alc. $28. ****. 3Nov2007.
Riverby Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) This is a bright citrussy chardonnay with a nutty, mealy aroma, an infusion of juicy stonefruit and a toasty, biscuity backbone. After a few hours it morphs into a big, rich buttery wine with stonefruit, citrus, a touch of pineapple and a savoury, smoky, sweet oak finish, which makes it pretty darn drinkable. 12.5% alc. $24.95. 7Aug2006.
Rose Tree Cottage Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Deep yellow gold with rich, oaky, oily, stonefruit and caramel aromas and a ripe, soft, smooth creamy, buttery flavour with tropical fruit, citrus and spice, this is a totally delicious 'Kingsley style of chardonnay'. No need to think about it, it flows like melted butter on toast and is ready to drink and enjoy now and over the next few months. 14% alc. $19.99. 1Aug2007.
Sacred Hill Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Stonefruit aromas and rich yeasty flavours with zingy acidity that makes it taste fresh and crisp. With subtle oak and a creamy texture, it builds to a rich finish where stonefruit overtakes the citrussy flavours to linger powerfully. $19.95. 16Jun2006.
Sacred Hill Rifleman's Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Straw gold in colour, a little restrained on nose with a hint of grilled nectarine, it's tight, mealy, nutty, sophisticated and totally endowed with lemony, leesy, lactic flavours in the style of some the great white Burgundies. The texture is silky, the palate is creamy and despite the acidity there's a softness to the toasty wheaty finish where nectarine lingers with citrus. A glorious wine, just needs a little more time. 14% alc. $48.99. 14Feb2007.
Saint Clair Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold coloured with aromas and flavours of spicy oak with a leesy complexity, bright grapefruit-like citrus and a slightly grainy texture. It's medium bodied and fresh and can take a bit of chilling for refreshing summer drinking. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 1Nov2006.
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright lemon gold with rich, oily toasted pineapple aromas, this is a bold, toasty, flamboyant, in-your-face style, an oak fest. There are subtle nuances of coconut from the American oak and layers of lemon scented furniture polish with surges of ripe stonefruit and a creamy, spicy and powerfully long finish. An oak-lovers delight - perhaps too oaky for some, but previous vintages of this wine show that it will age better than many chardonnays on the market and the oak will integrate perfectly. Fabulous now if you like this style, fabulous potential for the future. 14.5% alc. $27.99. 24Jan2007.
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright, clear, lemon gold with an alluringly fragrant chardonnay aroma of polished savoury oak, nuts and stonefruit, there's ample oak in the rich, sweetish, full-bodied, thick-textured palate with melon, stonefruit and mealy, wheaty characters as it lingers. A gorgeous wine - the fruit speaks, the oak is beautifully supporting and the winemaking is skilful. 14% alc. $24.95. 12Aug2006.
Saint Clair Unoaked Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold coloured. Aromatic, stonefruit aromas with an underlying savoury richness, that savouriness carries through to the medium to full-bodied palate. Mouthfilling and bright, rich and fruity with figs, melons, stonefruit and orange zest and a yeast lees spicy savouriness adding complexity. Very tasty and complex in a well-balanced dryish style and a lasting fruit-filled aftertaste that is almost buttery. 13% alc. $19.95. 7Jul2007.
Seresin Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold with hints of grapefruit underlying the creamy butterscotch aroma while grapefruit-like citrus fills the palate together with nutty oak and a weighty richness. Spicy, savoury, full-bodied and creamy with a long nutty finish, it is delicious now but according to Clive, it will be at its peak in 2008. 14% alc. $21.95. 14Jun2006.
Seresin Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 Wild yeast ferment, 10% new, all French oak. Savoury, spicy aroma, rich, full-bodied, mealy palate with honeyed oak, itís very dry, very savoury and wheaty, with fruit sweetness providing a long balanced finish and a mealy spiciness to the aftertaste. 14% alc. $36. 18Sep2006.
Shipwreck Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Lemon blossom on the nose and quite citrussy to the taste with an apple-like backbone. It's just a little astringent and simple with a bitterness to the finish. Unoaked. Made by Okahu Estate. 13% alc. $14.99. **. 3Nov2007.
Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (z) Golden in colour, this is a big, rich, toasty, full-bodied style with lots of barrel-ferment and yeast lees flavours combining with honey, muesli, stone fruit and lemon peel. It's creamy in texture and will be appealing to oak lovers, but others will find the oak a little too overpowering and unbalanced. 13% alc. 4Jan2007.
Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Medium gold coloured with a creamy, peachy, slightly butterscotch aroma and a rich, almost luscious flavour of figs, hazelnuts and spicy savoury oak with just a hint of grapefruit, a gorgeously smooth texture and lovely integration of the fruit and oak. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 7Feb2007.
Spy Valley Envoy Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold, bright and gemmy, complex and seductive with rich fleshy aromatics of smoky creamy oak, mealy yeast lees, stonefruit and toasted lemon and opulent, mealy, barrel fermented flavorus with French oak spice, a grainy texture, focussed nectarine and citrus-like fruit and a long, lean, powerful finish. Excellent cellaring potential. 14% alc. $36.7May2007.
Summerhouse Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Toasty oak on the nose together with lemony leesy characters and a vibrant expression of tropical fruit, and crunchy, juicy stonefruit in the palate. It's a ripe, round, medium to full-bodied wine with a creamy spicy finish and a clean, fresh aftertaste that simply radiates flavours of nectarine and lime. 20% of the wine was unoaked, which obviously accounts for the vibrancy. 13.5% alc. $29.95. 10Mar2007.
Te Awa Longlands Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light straw gold with lemon biscuit aromas and light tropical fruit flavours supported by crisp, apple-like acidity with little influence of oak. A little lean to start but the weight of the wine comes forth on the finish and there's a creaminess as it lingers.13% alc. $17.95. 6Mar2006.
Te Mania Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2005 (D) Bright yellow gold. Copious amounts of vanillin oak, lanolin, butterscotch and stonefruit on the nose carry through to the rich, full-bodied, mouthfilling palate that brims with ripe stonefruits, tangelo zest and spicy cedar. This is truly a Chardonnay lovers wine and gets better and better as it opens up. With decanting the boisterous oak flavours meld seamlessly into the wine as a whole and the finish is long, creamy, sweet-oaked and powerful. Fermented and aged for 10 months in French (58%) and American oak (42%). $27.99. 14% alc. 7Jul2007.
Te Mata Elston Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (D) Clear, bright gold with a gorgeous aroma of ripe peach and lemony, yeast lees characters infused into toasty, vanillin, savoury French oak. Youthful and bright in the palate with a full-bodied, almost luscious flavour kept in check by the citrussy backbone together with mellow oak, leesy, lactic components and white nectarine fruit. The slightly grainy texture seems to make the wine stick onto the tongue, where the taste lasts for ages. 13.5% alc. $32. 15Feb2006.
T.H.E. Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Hand picked and whole bunch pressed to American oak which imparts vanillin oak nuances to the toasty aromatics, this is a ripe, textural, mouthfilling style with lots of leesy mealy flavours, a touch of quince joining stonefruit and a creamy toasty finish. I could drink this. 4g/l rs. 13.5% alc. $22. 8Oct2006.
Thornbury Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A golden citrine-hued wine full of tropical fruit with a buttery, toasty infusion on the nose and a ripe, smooth in the palate with creamy oak and an abundance of fruit. A spiciness comes into play on the finish where there's a little bit of a savoury, citrussy tang. Dry, long and very tasty. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 3Aug2007.
Vavasour Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light lemon gold in colour with aromas of meal biscuits, stonefruit and spicy oak that carry through to the rich fat palate. It's a mouthfilling style, quite bright and tangy with citrus, tropical fruit, hints of pineapple and that underlying spicy, mealiness from the yeast lees combining beautifully with the lightly toasted oak. Then butter caramel emerges on the finish. It's smooth and creamy, powerful and long. 100% Awatere Valley fruit. 14.5% alc. $26. 3Apr2007.
Vidal Natural Ferment Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold in colour, lightly oaky and savoury on the nose, it tastes smooth, soft and creamy with figs, apricots and spicy barrel ferment and lees flavours, and an oily spiciness to the medium to full-bodied finish. Great value, every day drinking with so many bells and whistles it tastes much more expensive. 13.5% alc. $13.99. 7Feb2007.
Vidal Unwooded Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Fresh and fruity with a citrussy tartness balancing the juicy peach and melon fruit with an oily texture and a nicely rich mealiness to the finish. Good. 14% alc. $17.95. 30Oct2005.
Vidal Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light gold, bright, clear. Smooth and rounded with toasty aromas and peachy flavours, nutty oak, caramel and plenty of balanced acidity behind it. Very much a crowd pleaser with a finish that goes on and on. 14% alc. $13.95. 7Jun2006.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) A full-bodied, mealy, partially barrel fermented wine with expressive aromas of toasty oak and mouthfilling flavours of grilled stonefruit, nectarine, toasty oak and oatmeal with hints of caramel. With excellent weight and length and a vibrant citrussy aftertaste, it's a definite winner. 14% alc. $17.99 . 6Dec2006.
Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold. There's a wheaty nuance to the citrussy aroma and sherbet and tropical fruit flavours with subtle vanilla from the creamy oak and a peachy aftertaste. A fresh light-weight, drink now, style with a body building on the finish. 14% alc. $16.95. 6Mar2006.
Villa Maria Ihumatao Reserve Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold with spicy mellow oak aromas, it is full-bodied and creamy, warm and spicy with a smooth flowing texture, peach and tropical fruit, well-balanced acidity to lift the finish and a long, fulfilling aftertaste. You will drive past these grapes when you visit the new Villa Maria winery in Mangere. 13.5% alc. $34.99. 18Oct2006.
Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Powerful toasty aromas and creamy, spicy flavours with savoury oak, citrus, stonefruit, wheaty notes and a flintiness to the backbone. 14.5% alc. $33.99. 14Mar2007.
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Lemon gold, bright. Biscuity, sweet oak and stonefruit on the nose and mealy, savoury flavours with winemaking influences to the fore, hints of citrus, grilled peach and leesy, barrel ferment notes. With its silky fine texture, this is ultra-classy and just oozes finesse. 14% alc. $33.99. 14Mar2007.
Villa Maria SV Keltern Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light yellow gold with luscious grilled stonefruit and toasty, smoky, savoury oak on the nose, it's ripe and rounded to the taste with citrus, butterscotch, a touch of lanolin, spicy oak and a savoury, mealy undercurrent. Smooth and creamy, mouthfilling and long, with a honeyed lime overlay. 14.5% alc. $37.99. 21Mar2007.
Villa Maria SV Waikahu Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Light, lime-tinged gold. Sweet toasty oak aromas with a hint of toffeed peach, toasty, smoky oak fills the palate with mealy, biscuity notes. Alcohol is noticeably hot. It's quite citrussy in the fruit spectrum hints of tropical fruit and zesty spice fills out the rich, nutty, sweet toasty oak finish. An intriguing fragrance lingers. 14% alc. $37.99. 14Mar2007.
Villa Maria SV Waldron Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Mid yellow gold. Savoury and mealy with sweet toasty cedar and fresh brioche, it's spicy, toasty, nutty and buttery with more acid, more zest and a little more graininess to the texture. A big, rich wine with citrus and melon fruit and a warm mouthfilling sweetness to the butter caramel finish. 14% alc. $37.99. 21Mar2007.
Vintage Lane Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 (D) Golden yellow with a lime tint to the hue, this is an oily, nutty and abundantly fruity wine with pineapple, peach and sultana to the fore. Showing its age with its mellow disposition, it is full and fat with soft acidity and integrated oak. I wonder if there was some bottle variation as I would say my sample had a slightly oxidised character as well. 14.5% alc. $11.99. 28Jan2009.
Waimea Estate Nelson Chardonnay 2005 (sc) Bright with gem-like citrine appearance. Quite mealy on the nose - a barrel fermented style with buckets of strong toasty oak. Very dry and tight to the taste, a touch grainy, high-toned and warm. There's tropical fruit, lime, ripe peaches and the merest hint of toffee with the warmth from the alcohol lingering on the lasting finish. The savoury mealiness and the toastiness of the wine balance the fruit beautifully. 14.5% alc. $21.90. 26Jul2008.
Wild South Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 Citrus aromas and ripe tropical fruit flavours with a spritzy vivacity to the texture and a mealy influence coming though to give substance. Good acidity carries the finish. A lovely light-weight style with melons coming through strongly on the fruity aftertaste and very little influence of oak. 13.5% alc. $16.95. 31Oct2005.