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edited by Sue Courtney

Wine Reviews - Chardonnay
2008 Vintage
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 22 Dec 2013

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
[2010 and younger] [2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

2008 Vintage [top] [index]

Astrolabe Voyage Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A very malty wine, with perhaps the American oak and wild yeast inferring sweetness. Full malo tones down the acidity and adds a caramel veneer. A harmonious drink. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 28Jun2011.

Babich Irongate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (c) Quite delicate scented, even perhaps a little floral with just a hint of spicy oak to the bouquet, but full of flavour with apricot, citrus, lemon and melon, honeyed oak and a savoury, creamy veneer. Beurre noisette and peach linger deliciously on the long, finely textured finish. A 'once iconic' label that is truly back to form. 14.5% alc. $30.99. 9Feb2011.

Bouldevines Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold. Youthful, slightly estery scent - pear drop, bubble gum, a little floral. A fruit-driven wine with subtle oak, a savoury backbone, a touch of citrus and apricot emerging on the tropical fruit finish - becoming richer and more complex with time with a hint of caramel on the lingering finish. 14% alc. $27. 12Jul2010.

Boundary Vineyards Tukituki Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A light-gold coloured, juicy, ripe fruited, peachy Chardonnay with a savoury, leesy backbone. On the nose it's all fruit with little influence of oak despite that it has been barrel fermented in Hungarian oak, 25% new. In the palate it's ripe and clean, becoming quite mealy and savoury on the finish with a hint of creamy caramel and the peach and apricot-like fruit balanced by moderate acidity. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 16/20. 26Mar2009.

Cable Bay Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Lashings of nutty oak on the nose. Powerful and rich with smoky oak in the palate. Something quite interesting in the fruit depth - exotic fruit - starfruit, melon - and lots of leesy, nutty influences. Barrel fermented in French oak with 20% wild ferment. Tasty. 14% alc. $35. 15Oct2010.

Cape Campbell Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A juicy, tropical fruited Chardonnay with a light savoury backbone and hints of banana and the oak that is so very subtle. An easy-going style on the light side of medium bodied, it's clean, fruity and bright. 3 stars. $20. 26Apr2009.

Catalina Sounds Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Seems like a big, fat, buttery style on first tasting with spicy oak, honey and savoury lees nuances - but there's a pleasing restraint to the wine with citrus characterising the dry, flinty finish. A brilliant match to a decadent butter poached crayfish ravioli. 10Mar2010.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A rich gold colour with toasty oak and butter caramel aromas, this smooth creamy wine has rich, brash, oaky flavours with a malty, mealy influence and fruit in the tropical fruit and stonefruit spectrum with a hint of grapefruit. There's an oily veneer to the finish and butter caramel and toasty oak flavours linger. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 9Dec2009.

Church Road Cuve Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light yellow gold in colour, this has a tight, malt-infused aroma and powerful flavours. It's rich, creamy, spicy and harmonious with fruit in the stonefruit spectrum, a flinty undercurrent and a long dry finish. Beautiful wine. 14% alc. $29.99. 5May2010.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A more restrained yet more sophisticated style when tasted immediately after the Saint Clair. This fine-textured wine has aromas of smoky French oak, nuts, fig and citrus and a mealy undercurrent to the harmonious stonefruit flavours with richness and roundness to the long savoury finish where a nougat-like sweetness lingers. A classy wine with good palate weight. 14% alc. $34.99. 10Mar2010.
Moderately deep gold colour. A rich, fat, oily Chardonnay with an alluring smoky oak and ripe stonefruit bouquet, the flavours brim with spicy French oak, peaches, apricot and cream, and build to an intensely rich and long mouthfilling finish with a savoury complexity from a stylish winemaking regime. 14% alc. $29.99. 11Aug2010.
Light creamy gold in colour, this beautiful Chardonnay has rich, mealy barrel-ferment aromas when served chilled with a wild yeast richness to the scent and caramelised peaches too. A seamless wine in the mouth, it is full-bodied, concentrated and delicious with spicy savoury French oak, toasted baguette, malt, nuts, fig and citrus and hints of caramel as the lasting flavours linger. Total class. 14% alc. $29.99. 22Sep2010.

Clearview Beachhead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light lemon gold. This is a lighter style Chardonnay with oak seemingly secondary to the abundant apricot and melon scents, but it's reasonably oaky to the taste with a smooth texture and a creamy mealy backbone. Buttered toast lingers on the finish but the fruit is the winner on the day. 14% alc. $22.99. 17Jun2009.

Cognoscenti Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 (sc) ”Oaky, smoky, hokey pokey” is the new slogan for First Glass style Chardonnays and yes, this is oaky and smoky with lots of hokey pokey. It's also smooth and creamy with spicy oak, grilled pineapple and stonefruit and simply oozing ripeness and drinkability. Made by Waimata Wines, it was one of only 11 gold medal winners at the Gisborne International Chardonnay Challenge this year. 14.2% alc. $14.99. 8Jul2009.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Gold in colour with strong cedary oak flavours, spice and nectarine, the fruit explodes in the palate with a seam of citrus and there's a bready richness to the savoury finish. 14% alc. $25.99. 28Apr2010.

Craggy Range Seven Poplars Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Oily and creamy with a distinctive butterscotch caramel flavour, this is a smooth, ripe, juicy wine with a smoky aura and hints of fig and nougat. Very tasty and slips down easily. Totally hits the spot. Very, very good. 14% alc. $24.99. 14Jul2010.

Craggy Range Single Vineyard Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2008 - Hawkes Bay (sc) Light gold with nutty, citrussy scents that have a mealy nuance. After the Cloudy Bay this is such a lean, flinty wine with focussed acidity and a creamy lactic undercurrent, filling out to a rounded, spicy nutty finish. Seems a little similar to the 'Pania' tasted last month in the Cuisine Top 10 Chardonnays - if you liked that wine, you will love this. 14% alc. $26.99. 19May2010.

Crossroads Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This light, zesty style of Chardonnay is pale gold in colour with a nutty character to the scent and citrus, nectarine and delicate salted caramel flavours. It builds in richness in the palate and the finish is smooth. 14.5% alc. $16.99. 2Dec2009.

Cypress Terraces Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold. Creamy oak and butterscotch aromas and smooth creamy textured flavours of butterscotch, savoury oak, spice peaches and cream. Lovely harmony throughout with a seamless flow and a punchy vibrancy to the juicy finish. Yum. 14.5% alc. $31.99. 16Sep2009.
Fig, nougat, nuts and grilled stonefruit scents introduce this mouthfilling rendition of delicious full-boded Chardonnay. With great mouthfeel and richness, flavours of toasty stonefruit and stonefruit and a funky allure, this wine is still drinking beautifully a year after its gold medal win. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $30.99. 1Sep2010.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (c) Light citrine gold. The influence of wild yeast is a little more apparent on the nose. It smells bolder than the 2007 with its grapefruit purity, smoky French oak and butterscotch caramel. In fact the bouquet is just fantastic and the promise it offers delivers in the taste. Full yet fine in the palate with the citrus purity coming through, there's a lovely mealy savouriness with creamed cashews then butterscotch nuances coating the seamless finish. Simply sensational. 14.5% alc. $34.45 24Oct2011.

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2009 (c) A very appealing bouquet of sweet oak and sweet fruit with a nutty mealy influence coming through. In the palate it's spicy and savoury, nutty and creamy and while quite oak dominant with a powerful mealy undercurrent, delectable juicy peach and nectarine fruit balances the winemaking components beautifully. Already delicious. Next day: A subtle hint of lemon verbena now permeates the aroma of this lovely creamy wine with nutty influences to the fore and a delicate citrus infusion. With time in the bottle the oak has integrated beautifully. A really gorgeous wine, seamless, moreish, classy and balanced. 13 % alc. $52.00. 11Oct2010.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold. Melon on nose with just a hint of barrel ferment. Fruit driven palate, creamy in texture with mealy nuances coming through with a backing of vanilla custard and zesty spices. Tropical fruit and nectarine fruit is harmonious to the backbone and the finish is long. Not a big oaky number, just lots of Chardonnay fruit character. "Really nice," said Neil. 14% alc. $24.50. 22Oct2009.

Felton Road Block 2 Central Otago Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This fresh young wine is light gold in colour with a nutty aroma reminiscent of the sparkling wine but the flavours are rich and mouthfilling with citrus and stone fruit and a thread of tropical fruit too. There's spicy oak and lemony, leesy, almost bready flavours and loads of caramelised pineapple on the rounded finish. A very stylish wine. 13.5% alc. $47.99. 4Aug2010.

Felton Road Central Otago Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light yellow gold. A little soapy, floral on the nose with a nutty infusion to the subtle French oak. Flinty and nutty to start with citrus and apple, a hint of lemon blossom and honeysuckle - an unusually floral style with a touch of sweetness and some mineral salts too - perhaps a flicker of Chablis before fleshing out to a creamy finish with a touch of French polish. A wine for the cellar right now. 14% alc. $36.99. 22Jul2009.
Creamy, mellow scents lead into a moderately oaky palate with a buttery layer and a hint of caramel. The texture is beautifully slippery, there's lots of fruit - melon, citrus, stonefruit - and the wine has a serious earthy/mealy/malty depth. 14% alc. $36.99. 21Oct2009.

Forrest Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light yellow gold with richness to the hue. Mealy and savoury on the nose with hints of stonefruit and citrus, fine oak nuances and an intriguing floral allure. Rich, spicy, concentrated and flavoursome with lovely nutty, mealy flavours, a touch of brioche and nougat, and the delicate florals detected on the nose coming forth again to linger on the finish. Creamy with a citrus brightness to the finish. 14.3% alc. $22.00. 24Feb2012.

Frizzell Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Fermented in tanks and transferred to barrel, there's little oak influence on the nose and it's quite creamy / lightly oily textured. Medium-bodied in palate weight, the gentle oak component comes through with a butterscotch sweetness and the peachy fruit is juicy, fleshy and fresh with a zesty, sweet orange tang to the lingering finish where the yeast lees aging has added a creamed nut complexity. 13% alc. $22. 3.5 stars. 2Mar2009.

Goldridge Premium Reserve Barrique Matured Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Bright light gold. Mealy, barrel ferment aromas and ripe creamy flavours - there's citrus, stonefruit and butterscotch with a light touch of toasty oak and the finish is dry with savoury intonations. 13.5% alc. $22. 23Apr2009.

Hunters Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This pale gold wine is a light fruity expression with a creamy texture, a nutty backbone from the aging on yeast lees and when chilled, oak seems to play a very minor role. The bright fresh fruity flavours are in the grapefruit, white peach and white melon spectrum and the oak pushes through add subtle toastiness to the finish. 14% alc. $19.50. 2Dec2009.

Hyperion Helios Matakana Chardonnay 2008 (D) Oak adds complexity to this light gold coloured, medium to full-bodied, fruit driven style. Fruit is in the peach and tropical fruit spectrum and there's something reminiscent of freshly baked bread crusts with a scraping of butter. A touch of lemon zest adds brightness. Can imagine this would be super with scallops or white fish fillets served with a buerre blanc. 14% alc. $25. 7 Nov 2009.

Isabel Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This big, bold, toasty wine is yellow gold in colour with rich stonefruit and citrus flavours layered with buttery oak and caramel and a mellow oak softness to the finish. Five years old and holding up well – although there was some discussion about bottle variation on the night. 14.2% alc. $19.99. 7Nov2012.

Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Very light in colour, this wine seems very fruity on first tasting with the oak playing a subtle role in the background. It reminds me of both the Hunter's and the Cape Campbell from the vintage - these gold medal wines light and fruity to start with oak having little influence but getting richer and richer in the glass. There's a nice creamy, nutty yeast-lees barrel ferment influence coming through and tangy citrus characters characterise the finish. Matched to a fettuccine with a creamy Carbonara sauce, the acidity in the wine cuts through the fatness of the sauce. 13.5 % alc. $22.50. 29Dec2009.

Karikari Estate Calypso Chardonnay 2008 (c) Made from fruit grown on the Karikari Estate Vineyard in Northland, this is moderate gold in colour with creamed nut, butter caramel and stonefruit aromas that carry through to the smooth, harmonious palate. A full-bodied, powerful, bold, buttery, toasty oak style with a savoury richness to the delicious peach and tropical fruit flavours - and it can be well chilled too. 12.8% alc. $14.99. 29Sep2010.

Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009 (c) Rich and powerfully scented with creamy oak and a funky wild yeast infusion to the scent. Nutty and savoury in palate, this big rich wine seems quite 'tannic' at this stage of its life and is pleading to be cellared for a while. Next day: Rich and mealy with more powerful nutty flavours than the Dry River. Has developed nicely and the tannins that dominated on first opening have simply dissolved. Smooth, rich, powerful and almost buttery with lovely nut and stonefruit flavours on the lingering finish with the funky wild yeast characters asserting their presence. A 'big wine' in every sense. 13 % alc. $45.00. 11Oct2010.

Kina Beach Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A little more golden in colour, this is a rich, fat wine with aromas of smoke, nuts, hints of grapefruit and oatmeal, and plenty of buttered toast influence to the flavours with additional complexity that comes from bottle age. It's fleshy with a peachy disposition; citrussy notes that are sophisticated and well balanced; and an expansive finish that is mealy, nutty and long. 14% alc. $28.99. 27Apr2011.

Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2008 - Kumeu (sc) Smoky nutty aromas with a hint of melon. Quite Chablis in style with little influence of oak, it has nutty mealy flavours infused with grape and hints of tropical fruit and a lightly creamy texture underpinned by a dry flinty backbone. The mouthfeel is what makes this wine stand out and it grows in perfume, stature, richness and power. 13% alc. $13.99. 9Jun2010.

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2008 - Kumeu (sc) There’s a more definitive citrus tang to this smoky nutty wine with layers of stone fruit and fine oak on the nose and you immediately sense the complexity that this wine exudes when you taste it. With citrus zest, smoky savoury oak and a flinty undercurrent to the well-balanced buttery backbone, it's bright and fresh with a very long dry finish. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 9Jun2010.

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2008 - Kumeu (sc) Perfumed with citrus blossom and grapefruit zest, this ripe, rich wine has bright, lifted, fine citrussy flavours with a hint of butter caramel adding softness and creaminess to the mouthfeel. Tight, elegant, dry and nutty with pretty mandarin characters that sing, it expands on the palate to become round and full with toasty oak and stonefruit complementing the sweet citrus finish. 13.5% alc. $41.99. 9Jun2010.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2008 - Kumeu (sc) Very appealing savoury, mealy and delicately smoky aromas infused with stonefruit, lemon verbena and grapefruit zest, the grapefruit zest is even more pronounced in the palate. Dry, rich, steely yet warm, it expands in richness and power with citrus-like acidity driving the long, rich, dry finish with mealy flavours and savoury oak adding to its overall allure. 13.5% alc. $41.99. 9Jun2010.

Kumeu River Mate's Chardonnay 2008 - Kumeu (sc) Nutty aromas with hints of stonefruit - the scents are restrained compared to the others. Rich and powerful in the palate with complex, mouthfilling mealy flavours infused with finely toasted nutty oak, citrus, nuts, nougat and pear with a malty richness to the lasting finish and a vinous sweetness coming through. There's an extra dimension and weight to this wine that cones from the old vines, and the texture is simply sublime. 13.5% alc. $46.99. 9Jun2010.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Golden yellow with delicate leesy aromatics and a smooth creamy palate with a lovely expression of peach and nectarine, a layer of caramel cream and a spicy oak backbone. Lovely acid balance that makes it seems so youthful - it still has a long way to go. 14% alc. $21.99. 29Feb2012.
Lemon gold coloured, youthful in appearance with a nutty and elegantly restrained bouquet. Grapefruit, fig and wine biscuits dominate the dry, ripe, sophisticated and silky palate with a flourish of nectarine on the full-bodied savoury finish. Has bottle age yet is youthful and impressive. 14% alc. $21.99. 25Apr2012.
Spicy nougat and toasted nut scent and ripe, rich, full-bodied flavours of citrus and allspice with a deep savoury backbone. Still very fresh despite being four years of age, it shows how well the best Marlborough Chardonnays can age. 14% alc. $20.99. 19Sep2012.
Looking incredibly youthful for its four years, the fresh bouquet of spicy oak, nougat and toasted nuts is followed by ripe, rich, full-bodied flavours of citrus and allspice over a deep savoury backbone. A silky textured wine with just a hint of caramel as the creamy flavours linger. 14% alc. $19.99. 10Oct2012
There's a rich buttery scent with a nuance of smoky bacon and creamy flavours full of Golden Queen peaches. The acidity is mellow and the oak is integrated. It has intensity, it has flavour and the whole impression is smooth and silky. Drinking magnificently now. 14% alc. $19.99. 20Feb2013.

Lochiel Estate Mangawhai Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold colour, peaches and creamy aroma and delicious ripe stonefruit flavours of peach, yellow plum and nectarine with lots of spicy oak to complete the package. A big rich creamy wine with well-balanced underlying acidity. Nice. 14.5% alc. $24.99. 19Aug2009.
There's more gold to the colour of this smoky, savoury, nutty-scented Chardonnay and it's bigger, rich and creamier, yet at the same time a more 'elegant' style. Add caramel corn, peach, nectarine and toasty oak, it really is a very smart drop. 14.5% alc. $24.99. 12Jan2011.

Mahi Twin Valleys Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Smoky, savoury with a nutty nougat finesse to the scent. There's a delicate touch to the texture of this full-bodied wine - it dances on the tongue and coats it with its light as a feather twirls. There's depth and concentration with lovely stonefruit and creamy oak and a delicate zestiness to the finish. V. v. good. On the finish it is all peach, peach, peach. Yum. 13.5 % alc. $34.00. 8Mar2010.

Main Divide Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2008 (sc) After the subtle smoke and savoury scents infused with grapefruit, it seems a very fruity wine at first, quite understated in its oak regime, but the creamy richness of the malo in the background adds complexity to the ripe peachy flavours and grapefruit brims through the long, rounded finish. Becomes more and more powerful with every sip. Quite delicious. 13.5 % alc. $19.95. 20Nov2010.
Rich yellow gold with a mellow oak bouquet and smooth, creamy, soft rounded flavours of nuts and oatmeal with a citrussy tang. Heading towards 'marmalade on toast' with lovely fresh acidity adding brightness to the smooth, rich finish. 13.5% alc. $N/A. 2May2012.

Man O War Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Golden in colour with a hint of zest to the toasty aroma, this big, rich, powerful wine is totally flamboyant - a style that lovers of big, bold oaky wines will love. Creamy and buttery with a mealy undercurrent and concentrated ripe peach taming the spicy oak then an exotic citrussy brightness to the toasty finish and a long, creamy, caramelised stonefruit aftertaste. Beautifully rounded with gorgeous mouthfeel. Excellent. 14.5% alc. $22.99. 28Apr2010.

Martinborough Vineyards Martinborough Terrace Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold. Big, rich, funky style. Caramel, sweet oak, thick texture, spice, toast, nougat, full on, very powerful. 13.5 % alc. $40.00. 8Mar2010.
Moderate gold in colour, this rich, sophisticated Chardonnay is mealy and creamy with a touch of caramel corn, hints of nectarine, juicy melon and a very long finish. The smooth, seamless, mouthcoating texture is sublime, the oak is smoky and integrated and the whole package emanates total class. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 6Oct2010.

Matahiwi Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Radiant light yellow gold. Savoury oak on the nose and rich and toasty in the palate - an oaky, smoky, buttery wine with fruit in the melon and peach spectrum and a toasted nut backbone. Five years old and while developing some broad bottle-aged characters, it's looking very smart and fresh for its age. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 30May2012.

Matahiwi Holly Wairarapa Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Chardonnay it is. Most definitely. Creamy with lightly toasted smoky, oak, peach and nectarine. Deep and tasty, yet spicy and bright - even a nuance of pineapple perhaps. But it is the savoury characters that win the flavour stakes on the day. Jane Cooper is really crafting some lovely distinctive wines from the Wairarapa and surrounding regions for the Matahiwi and Alexia labels. 13.5% alc. $25.95. 17Oct2009.

Maven Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This light yellow coloured number seems quite mature. The aroma is fat and leesy with a spicy oak infusion and the flavour is malty with salted nuts and the sweetness of ripe stonefruit. Oak and acidity are well integrated and the finish is rounded. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 5Oct2011.

Mission Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light yellow gold with aromas of caramel and spice that are a little subdued to start and flavours of grapefruit and stonefruit with a richness to the texture. A wine that doesn't overpower but makes its presence gently felt with a long finish with juicy fruit salad aftertaste. Fabulous buy. 13% alc. $12.99. 2Dec2009.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A lovely medium-bodied Hawkes Bay chardonnay with savoury French oak, a creamy texture, peach and melon fruit and a smoky nuance to the spicy finish. Lots of mealy, leesy characters add to the complexity and it can take chilling too. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 30Sep2009.
Light gold. Hints of butterscotch on the nose and creamy flavours with a touch of caramel underpinned with citrus and a rounded toasty finish. Very nice right now. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 5May2010.

Montana Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Very light gold. Fruit aromas with little indication of oak. Light, fresh, fruity flavour with lime sherbet and a fizzy fruit lolly character. Bright, fresh, zest and summery - and to be consumed on such carefree days. 13% alc. $17.95 (full price). 10Dec2009.

Montana 'Showcase Series' Stuart Block Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Bright light gold with lemon-infused toasty oak scents, this is quite tight on entry when served chilled but opens up nicely to reveal a creamy backbone to the citrus flavours with juicy melon and a tropical depth to the full-flavoured, creamy, toasty oak finish. 13% alc. $13.99. 26Jan2011.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A new release, this smooth and seamless wine is golden coloured with citrus, tropical fruit and savoury, barrel fermented flavours with a lovely nutty oak sweetness and a rounded finish and just a touch of tingly spice. 14% alc. Screwcap. $15.99. 26Aug2010.
This light-gold coloured, soft, rounded Chardonnay really hits the easy-drinking spot with its mellow toasty oak, caramel and stone fruit scents and savoury, spicy, zesty flavours wrapped up in a smooth creamy texture with a touch of malt and a warm toasty finish. 14% alc. $16.99. 12Jan2011.
Golden coloured with a peach and toast aroma and sweet-fruited, fat, full flavours of sizzled butter, stonefruit, toast and smoky bacon with a smooth delivery all the way. 14% alc. $16.99 20Apr2011.

Mt Difficulty Central Otago Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Citrine bright in the glass, quite nutty and restrained at first with a smoky flinty undercurrent, it compounds in richness with stone fruit and citrus and a hint of toast to the long, savoury finish. A stylish complexity has been introduced with that bit of bottle age. 14% alc. $34.99. 24Aug2011.
A lighter gold colour, this has a tight, youthful, fresh veneer with a creamy bouquet and juicy citrus and stonefruit flavours. There's a lovely savoury influence, nutty oak and a flinty undercurrent, rounding out to a creamy finish with richness and depth. 14% alc. $34.99. 2May2012.
A golden colour, the bouquet is grapefruit and the palate is full of the bright zing of the fresh, late winter fruit. Spicy and zesty with harmonious toasty oak and a butterscotch richness to the rounded full-bodied finish, it's still climbing to its plateau. 14% alc. $29.99. 28Aug2013.

Mudbrick Reserve Waiheke Is Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A powerful wine with grapefruit and struck flint the key aromatics and strong leesy, malty, barrel fermented flavours with plenty of sweet citrus brimming through and a smoky savoury finish. A big wine with some oak tannin and butterscotch nuances, it really needs a big Burgundy styled glass for utmost enjoyment. 14.5% alc. $35.99. 18Nov2009.

Murdoch James Martinborough Blue Rock Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Bright, zesty and spicy with fresh tropical fruit and stone fruit with well balanced citrus-like acidity and a pleasing mealy savouriness from aging on yeast lees, this is a light to medium-bodied alternative to Pinot Gris - and better than many of those often far too neutral wines. 3.5 stars for quality but at full price, far too expensive. 13.5% alc. $27. 25Apr2009.

Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A savoury, nutty wine, slightly oily, or perhaps glycerolic in texture and a deep, creamed nut flavour with tropical fruit, pineapple, apricot and biscuit and a peachy character to the finish. A sensational wine already and makes you wonder just how good Neudorf's top tier 'Moutere' will be. 13.5% alc. $29.00. 4Dec2009.

Omaka Springs Falveys Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2007 (sc) Yellow gold colour. Toasty aromas with stonefruit and delicate tropical fruit scents and fresh, fruity flavours with a lightly creamy texture, a nutty mealy backbone, a zing of citrus and a spicy oak toastiness to the tingly finish. Can be served well chilled, as this is how we tasted it. 14% alc. $15.99. 3Feb2010.

Onyx Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Bright light gold with malt, toast, caramel cream and grilled stonefruit scents, this wine tastes just superb after 90 minutes chilling. It's soft, rounded and creamy with intense stonefruit and citrus that really stands up to the full-flavoured spicy oak, while the butterscotch on the finish is long and lingering. 14% alc. $16.99. 19Jan2011.

Palliser Martinborough Chardonnay 2008 A creamy, mealy, enticing barrel-ferment aroma with a touch of savouriness adding to its allure. Still very youthful but shows its charm with its leesy, mealy, savoury barrel-fermented flavours and a well balanced toasty richness with sizzled butter and nutty caramel flavours persisting well while a peaching sweetness infuses the finish. 14% alc. $28. 23Feb2010.
A blend of Mendoza and Clone 95 grapes with nine months in French oak on lees, this is a lovely creamy Chardonnay with toasty oak, stonefruit and savoury mealy flavours and a refreshing but very subtle hint of citrus and tarragon on the finish. This is melt-in-the-mouth Chardonnay with depth and richness and a seamless texture. Sizzled butter persists and a peachy sweetness lingers. 13.5% alc. $38. 13Feb2011.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Rich moderate gold. Nuances of grapefruit infused with caramel on the nose, the grapefruit infiltrating the firm-textured savoury palate where appealing caramel, malt and wheat meal flavours come through. There's a flourish of zest on the smoky finish where indigenous yeast flavours make themselves known and the oak is nicely in balance. 13.5% alc. $35.95. 2Nov2011.

Pleasant Valley 'Yelas' Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A much richer, fatter wine that's more golden in colour and super smooth in texture with a smoky oak scent and a distinctive salty, spicy, zesty tang to the flavour with lashings of nectarine, melon and passionfruit, creamy oak, hints of butterscotch and a powerful savoury finish. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 3Nov2010.

Ransom Cosmos Matakana Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A nutty style of chardonnay with polished oak. It’s quite savoury with a smooth texture, fresh apricot and hints of butterscotch coming through. More savoury than fruity with a bright spicy zing. An oaky chardonnay that will really compliment food. 13% alc. $27.00. 28Jun2011.

Riverby Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold, clear and bright in the glass. A hint of oak spice amongst the peaches and cream of the bouquet. Slightly phenolic in palate with acidity that is crisp and fresh and just a little biting. Fruit is in citrus / tropical fruit spectrum and there's a biscuity complexity but oak is quite dominant on the finish and the aftertaste is a little sour and bitter. Seems to be in a closed phase. 14.5% alc. $25. 16Aug2009.
Lemon gold with a lime glint. Lots of oak-derived scent with a stonefruit overtone. Rich and fat to the taste with oak the upfront characters fading in its woody demeanour to become quite nutty and savoury with tingly citrus zest acidity tempered a little by the caramel cream that emerges on the finish with stonefruit flavours lingering. A full-bodied style that needs food - bacon wrapped scallops would do the trick. 14.5 % alc. $25.00. 30Dec2009.
Light gold coloured. Toasted hazelnut aromas and soft creamy flavours with a touch of butterscotch coating the stone fruit and tropical fruit. It’s very dry with well balanced underlying acidity and toasty nuances to the savoury finish. 14.5% alc. $19.99. 10Feb2010.

Rock Ferry Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Brightly hued, light gold with flashy glints. Lots of oak and mealy characters on the nose. Full-bodied and fleshy in the palate. A monumental, rounded, mouthfilling style of chardonnay with toasty oak, fleshy peach and nectarine fruit, a buttery creamy richness and a touch of oak spice. A powerful chardonnay influenced by wild yeast. I like it!!! 13.5% alc. $35.00. 23Jul2011.

Sacred Hill Barrel Fermented Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Moderate gold in colour - quite coloured for its age (and deeper than an accompanying 2007 Marlborough chardonnay tasted beside it. Initially high-toned and citrussy, it settles down with stonefruit and spice and a creamy, mlf backbone. Seems far too young with bubble gum esters - it needs some integration time. 13.5% alc. 1.06 $20.90. 10May2009.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold colour. Quite creamy, mealy and nutty with a slightly oily, buttery texture. Lots of citrus, mainly grapefruit and lemon, even slightly lemon honeyish with savoury winemaking characters coming through on the finish. Seems like it need more time because as it opens up in the glass, stonefruit emerges to temper the dominant citrus. Do not over chill. 13.5% alc. $25.90. 3Dec2009.

Saint Clair Premium Series Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A very appealing Chardonnay with a toasty caramel aroma and smooth, creamy, rounded, savoury flavours studded with oak spice and delicious citrus, melon and tropical fruit. There's a youthful vibrancy to the wine and a lingering impression of butterscotch. Very easy to enjoy. 13% alc. $17.99. 10Mar2010.
Light yellow gold with a toasty aura to the bouquet and ripe, creamy, stonefruit and spice flavours with an accent of sweet citrus and butterscotch on the toasty finish. Surprisingly good with several gold medals to it’s name. 13% alc. $17.99. 28Apr2010.

Saint Clair Pioneer Series Block 11 Cell Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This is a completely different style with a bouquet of nuts and figs infusing into mealy, malty, biscuity scents and toasty oak pulsating through the citrussy palate with stonefruit fleshing out the finish. Rich, juicy and long. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 9Feb2011.

Saints Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 (sc) moderate yellow gold - actually the colour is quite yellow for such a young wine. A fresh fruity number with a fragrance of tropical fruit and nutty oak that carries through to the juicy palate where there's lots of pineapple and citrus zest too. Oak sits gently in the background and savoury, mealy nuances add complexity. Easy going medium-bodied style with plenty of drink now appeal. 16.5/20. 13% alc. $19.95. 27Jun2009.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Pale gold. Malty, honeyed oak aromas with a hint of citrus. Rich and savoury to the taste with spicy oak, grilled stonefruit and flavours reminiscent of muesli with cashew and caramel adding to the complexity. Served chilled, as this sample was, the grapefruit-like acidity is enhanced but it becomes fatter as it warms up and the finish is rich, toasty and long. 14% alc. $16.99. 6May2009.

Selaks Winemaker's Favourite Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light lustrous gold. Peach, melon and cashew on the nose and rich and creamy flavours with plenty of succulent peach and melon fruit, toasty oak and a creme caramel finish. Very appealing, drink now style. 13.5% alc. $21. 28May2009.

Seresin Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Fruit-driven aromas with a hint of smoky oak and a subtle bready richness. Savoury, zesty and powerful with a silky, seamless palate and a rich, creamy flavour with butterscotch and melon pushing through to linger on the finish. There's a lovely fruity concentration and this wine is offering delicious drinking right now. Natural ferment in French oak (25% new) with 11 months in barrel and mlf. 13.5 alc. $29.00. 5Oct2010.

Seresin Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Fruity aromatics with a pineapple infusion to the sweet, bready, wild yeast scents. There's a touch of butterscotch to the flavour and loads of citrus zestiness that lean more towards grapefruit. A little grainy in texture and masses of oak, this is a wine that is made to improve with age and it begs for a little more cellaring right now. Natural ferment in French oak (25% new) with 11 months in barrel and mlf. 14 alc. $39.00. 5Oct2010.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonay 2008 (sc) Yellow gold. Creamy, toasty, nutty scents. Youthful, spicy, leesy in palate. plenty of acidity. Good palate weight and mouthfeel with a toasted stonefruit finish. Pleasing combination of concentrated stone, citrus and tropical fruit and winemaking savouriness. Good persistence of flavour a hallmark of a very good wine. Neil likes. I think it could be a little more chilled. 13.5 % alc. $32.95. 8Mar2010.

Soho Carter Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Medium gold. On the nose it's quite smoky and just a little savoury with a hint of a salty tang to the scent. This is a strange wine, a nutty wine with hints of marzipan and raisins, a lean finish and a slightly rancid butter aftertaste. This wine polarised the Cuisine panel and polarised the First Glass tasters too - there was talk of bottle variation in the room. Named for Maximus Carter, the vineyard dog. 14% alc. $35.99. 28Apr2010.

Spinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Creamy on nose, apple and peach in palate, Spice, leesy and zesty with initially little influence of oak, it becomes quite nutty and rich, morphing into a full-bodied powerful wine with juicy tropical fruit and a creamy finish. Needs decanting for best results. An awesome value for money proposition. 14.5% alc. $14.90. 5Apr2009.
When this is tasted at room temperature, it's bright and fresh with a smooth creamy texture and a butterscotch complexity. The juicy tropical fruit sings while oak strums away in the background. But serve it chilled and the oak moves into the foreground and displays its toasty veneer yet always with that beautiful balance of fruit. 14.5% alc. $15.99. 30Sep2009.
There's a richness to the light yellow gold colour to this bright, fresh, juicy wine with tropical fruit scents and grilled peach, caramel and nutty oak flavours, a citrussy finish and smoky oak in the background. 14.5% alc. $15.99. 2Dec2009.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) This wine is delicious when chilled. There's a hint of smoke on the nose with citrus and wheatmeal notes and it is fresh to the taste with a toasty, mealy richness, a nice spine of creamy French oak and a bright fruity finish. There's a savoury note that balances the citrus and tropical fruit well. A tasty wine, medium to full-bodied in style. 90% barrel fermented with 50% wild yeast fermentation and partial malo-lactic fermentation. 13% alc. $19.90. 16Jan2010.

Spy Valley Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 (sc) An immediate impression of sweet fruit in the palate - apple, citrus, orange sherbet, and a hint of pineapple. Light to medium-bodied in palate weight and well rounded with a creamy texture and lots of juicy appeal. 3.5 stars. 13.5% alc. $17. 25Apr2009.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Stonefruit, nutty oak and creamy yeast lees, barrel ferment scents. Gorgeous ripe, rounded flavours of stonefruit, cashew and creamy oak. A deliciously drinkable Chardonnay that's creamy and toasty. A perfect match to fillet mignon – in particular the bacon. 14% alc. $26.95. 8Aug2009.

Te Mania Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Ripe fruit absolutely brims through this light gold wine. Pineapple, peach, rock melon and citrus with a nutty undercurrent and a subtle savoury oak backbone. A well balanced, juicy fresh drink with lots of appeal. 14% alc. $19.99. 4Dec2009.

Te Mania Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) The oak is much more restrained than in previous versions of this wine and personally I like the oak regime in this wine - it has impact without overpowering. It is rich (but not overly rich), mealy, savoury and nutty with that fruit seen in the estate wine trying to escape. Later I detect grilled stonefruit and very subtle pineapple, figs and even a suggestion of coconut. 14% alc. $27.99. 4Dec2009.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2008 – Hawkes Bay (D) Light yellow gold. On the nose it's quite tightly bound at this stage of life - delicately smoky with nut bread and hints of peach. Quite nutty in the palate too, nutty and savoury with orange peel, hints of tropical fruit, nectarine and a creamy, yeast lees influence with spicy French oak flavours that comes in waves. Texture is fine and everything seems beautifully in harmony although it will become bigger and richer over the next 3-4 years. 13.5% alc. $33.99. 5Aug2009.
Lightly chilled, as the wine was served on the night, is exactly the right temperature to enjoy this iconic wine. On first tasting it's big, rich and creamy with beautifully proportioned oak creating a harmonious layer with the other complex flavours. There's nougat and a hint of peach supported by a savoury, mealy undercurrent with a zing of citrus on the long, bright finish where a creamy peach and tropical fruit sweetness lingers - even a suggestion of pineapple chiffon. This 2008 spent 13 months in barrel, an extra 3 months over recent previous vintages. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 17Mar2010.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A more savoury, winemaker-influenced style, it's a little tight to start with a hint of grapefruit, among the distinctive citrussy flavours with peach and tropical fruit pushing through and a rich, tangy finish with excellent length. Powerful and flavourful, this gets better and better in the glass and of the two it won the popular vote. 14% alc. $27.99. 14Apr2010.

Vavasour Awatere Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Golden yellow with creamy, mealy, barrel ferment scents - inviting from the outset. A change of tack with this wine, it is savoury and nutty with a salty tang and the allure of the romantic fig. It’s a lean style as it crosses the palate but the flavours are rich, full and lasting. 14.5% alc. $19.99. 28Apr2010.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Intensely aromatic with rich, mealy, toasty, barrel fermented scents tinged with nougat and grapefruit - instantly appealing to Chardonnay lovers and the palate of this light golden Chardonnay totally delivers too. A lovely nuts, fig and nougat style that's ultra-creamy in texture with spicy oak, juicy stonefruit sweetness and a caramel cream finish. Beautifully balanced, seamless and dangerously drinkable! 14% alc. $30.99. 1Dec2010.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold. Lovely creamed cashew nut scent. Beautifully balanced palate - nothing dominates - lovely fruit weight - citrus, tropical fruit - hints of caramel and a touch of sweetness to the finish. Perhaps it is more sweet than savoury and not sure if I like that. A it of citrus emerges on the lightly leesy finish and the lasting memory is zesty and bright. Will take chilling. 14 % alc. $29.99. 8Mar2010.
Bright gold coloured with smoky, savoury, classy oak scents, this is a rich wine with a clean citrus infusion, a savoury intonation, nuts and figs and a malty richness to the finish. There's concentrated stonefruit brooding in the background and while the creamy oak is strong and forward, it integrates nicely with lots of swirling. 14% alc. $25.99. 28Apr2010.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) A grapefruit aroma characterises this light gold-coloured, sumptuous, satisfying Chardonnay. It’s spicy and malty with stonefruit and caramel and a rich oaky finish. A beautiful drink when served well chilled, as it was on the night, serve in a big glass and enjoy with friends. 14% alc. $31.99 17Nov2010.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light yellow gold. Lovely mealy, malty, honey on toast scents with classic Hawkes Bay stonefruit adding to the tantalising allure. On the first taste the oak seems a little dominant but then the fruit comes through and the oak is in harmony to the fleshy peach, melon and citrus flavours. Full-bodied and complex, beautifully balanced, creamy and long, a spiciness comes through on the finish that is very long. Very good now - will be even more beautiful with time. 20% wild ferment. 10 months in French oak. 55% new. 14.5% alc. 20May2009.
Light yellow gold in colour, this beautiful wine entices from the outset with its scent of florals intertwined with nutty French oak and creamy yeast lees and flavours that show skilful winemaking while preserving the fruit. There's citrus and stonefruit with creme brulee and caramel - a barrique ferment chardonnay with power and length. Delicious. 14.5% alc. $25.99. 9Dec2009.
Lovely barrel-ferment aromas with nuances of grapefruit, nougat and stone fruit carry through to the fine textured palate. Spicy and savoury with excellent fruit weight, layers of malty richness, creamy oak and a long dry finish, it is still evolving yet already revealing great potential. 14.5% alc. $25.99. 10Mar2010.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold in colour with lovely mealy, smoky French oak and hazelnut scents, this is a caramel creme Chardonnay that's fat and toasty with grilled peach and a savoury richness to the finish. Tight yet expressive and can take substantial chilling. 14% alc. $29.99. 6Oct2010.
Light gold coloured with a creamy aroma that hints of butterscotch and bready yeast lees. Oak is definitely to the fore in this toasty little number, which is developing beautifully in the bottle. While more about Burgundian-influenced winemaking rather than fruit, it's rounded and creamy with an expansive, satisfying finish. 14% alc. $29.99. 7Dec2011.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Golden yellow with a creamy, buttery bouquet and a dry nutty savoury palate with some fruit restraint. There's an aura of age and with malolactic influences, pencil shavings and a flourish of underlying acidity adding zest. 14% alc. $29.99. 29Feb2012.

Waimarie Muriwai Valley Chardonnay 2008 (D) When first opened it has delicate aromatics with hints of butterscotch - it's a creamy, mealy wine with a smooth, seamless texture, a lovely touch of spicy oak, an underpinning of citrus and butterscotch emerging again on the long fine finish. A wine that gets richer and richer in the glass, we successfully matched to a winter warming meal of beef braised in white wine. Next Day: A lovely creamy, mealy wine with a lightly honeyed texture, clean melon and delicate citrus fruit, hints of apricot. A fine, elegant style, building in richness and power. 13 % alc. 4Jul2010.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Pale straw gold. Earthy, savoury, leesy aromas with a subtle hint of grapefruit. Grapefruit fills the palate in this full-on leesy, barrel-ferment style driven by the underlying acidity with a slightly bitter, savoury finish. Quite dry on the finish with slight reductive notes too. With decanting it becomes quite creamy in the palate with citrus and spice. A medium-bodied, fruit driven style. 14.5% alc. $21.90. 5Apr2009.
Light lemon gold. A peaches and cream Chardonnay on the nose and toasty oak flavours with a creamy oily texture and plenty of citrus and the slightest suggestion of pineapple. The wine has a mealy undercurrent and caramel emerges on the lingering finish. Can definitely take chilling because that's how we had it. 14.5% alc. $16.99. 6Jan2010.
Peach and nectarine fill the bouquet - a touch of butterscotch too and even more butterscotch in the delicious savoury, toasty palate. With lots of polished oak and stonefruit with a hint of nutmeg on the finish it fits the theme well, just do not over chill. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99. 1Sep2010.
The bouquet is lightly toasty with melon and nuts, but oak is the hero in the palate. Full and rich with an oily texture, a mealy richness and a nutty nuance to the smooth butter-caramel finish, it's spicy with lifted citrus, apricots, peach and lots of oak. 14% alc. $17.99. 18Apr2012.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Served chilled, this is oaky, toasty, buttery and creamy with a crisp, citrussy freshness. It is fruity yet savoury with juicy stonefruit, lots of creamy French oak and a long, spicy oak finish. 13.4% alc. $16.99. 3Mar2010.
Light gold in colour, this wine seems deceptively light at first, possibly because of its order in the tasting, but it soon shows its power as it builds in the palate. A creamy wine with a citrussy tone, it has juicy stonefruit enhanced by caramel overtones, creamy oak and a bright, spicy finish. 13.4% alc. $17.99. 28Apr2010.

West Brook Waimauku Estate Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light nutty oak scent and rounded creamy flavours with caramel nuances, silky savoury oak and nectarine-like fruit. Medium to full-bodied, expressive and a little reminiscent of the trophy winning 2007 although this vintage is 100% Auckland fruit. Far too easy to drink. We loved it. 13.5 % alc. $28.90. 30Dec2009.
Brilliant gold. Full, rich, fruity aromatics with hints of pineapple and a suggestion of butterscotch, this impression carries through to the full-bodied spicy palate. Texturally complex, it coats the tongue and leaves a rich bready flavour with a fruit bread complexity and spicy grilled peach. Bright. Lively. Very good. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 28Apr2010.

Wild South Marlborough Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Pale lemon gold. Light fruit style with tropical fruit and citrus aromas. Creamy texture and lightly nutty with spicy oak playing a warm but subtle role in the background. Lovely fruit-filled mouthfilling finish. Great, fresh, summery style. 13% alc. $18.90. 10Dec2009.

Wild Rock Pania Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 (sc) Light gold, with a hint of butterscotch on the nose, this is a creamy, lactic style with a warm presence in the mouth, plenty of spicy oak and a flinty undercurrent to the stonefruit flavours. A little grainy in texture with a long, sweet, ripe fruited smoky finish, perhaps even creme brulee. 14% alc. $17.99. 28Apr2010.

[2010 and younger] [2009] [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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