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Wine Reviews - Chardonnay
2011 vintage
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 13 Feb 2015

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
[2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

2011 Vintage [top] [index]

Aronui Nelson Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold, . A touch reductive on the nose and quite flinty in the palate, initially it seems tight and lean and just a little one-dimensional but this is a wine that shows potential for aging. It changes in the glass to reveal bright yellow fruit with an exotic nature and plenty of oak. Quite mealy and bready and just becomes so full of flavour. 14% alc. $24.95. 12Oct2013.

Ashwell Martinborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Bright, fresh and toasty with juicy flavours of peach and nectarine, an underlying mealy savouriness and a touch of caramel mingling with mandarin on the finish. This lively spicy Chardonnay gets you right into the zone. 13.1% alc. $19.99. 3Sep2014.

Brancott Estate Living Land Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light glossy gold in colour with a bouquet of nutty oak and Golden Queen peaches and a taste that is initially dry, nutty and oatmeal savoury before the sweet mealy flavours of the yeast lees come through. It fleshes out in the mouth with its warmth, finding all the nooks and crannies, and the creamed nut finish is layered with honeyed oak and freshened with a touch of citrus and melon. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 15May2013.

Chard Farm Judge and Jury Central Otago Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This is a different style of Chardonnay altogether. It's creamy and nutty on the nose, and smoky, toasty, savoury in the palate with citrus tones. Very refined, elegant and super dry, it's a lean wine at this stage of its life but it's made with longevity in mind. Serve in a burgundy bowl right now. 14% alc. $40.99. 8Jan2014.

Church Road McDonald Series Chardonnay 2011(sc) Made from Hawkes Bay grapes, the scent of this light gold coloured gem offers up peaches and pears with nutty mealy influences and a touch of apricot perfume. I initially thought Pinot Gris or Viognier but the rich oaky taste screams Chardonnay through and through. Behind the oak and mealy nutty flavours, the fruit is ripe and fleshy and there’s a juicy freshness to the finish. Surprisingly good with BBQ’d pork steak and rocket salad. 13% alc. $32.99. 18Dec2012.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Straw gold. Rich nutty aromas with layers of vanillin oak. A nutty ’nougat’ style in the palate with white peach, spicy oak, a fine texture and a creamy finish. Lots of malo and some wild yeast lees influence. Stylish and elegant. Developing into a glorious drink, a wine to take out to dinner to impress or to just enjoy with your loved one. 13% alc. $33.99. 22May2013.

Coopers Creek SV 'The Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Smooth, seamless, soft, harmonious and creamy, this has a tantalising bouquet and a well-defined nutty, smoky, savoury backbone to balance the delicious, juicy, freshly picked peach and nectarine fruit with a spicy flourish to the lingering finish. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 26Sep2012.
This light coloured wine is silky smooth in texture and the taste is nutty and spicy with a lovely balance of citrus and juicy white stonefruit. The finish is warm, mouthfilling savoury and the smoky oak is beautifully integrated throughout. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 20Feb2013.

Crossroads Milestone Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc)Fragrantly scented, slightly nutty, slightly buttery, that suggestion of lemon bread to the scent and a lemon butter (malo) influence to the youthful taste and juicy nectarine and melon. Very smooth and creamy with a suggestion of biscuit spices, it's medium bodied in style with a light touch of smoky oak and a long warm finish. Perfect for seafood or 5 o'clock drinks. 13.5% alc. $12.99. 20Mar2013.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (c) Light gold. Grapefruit and funky wild yeast / mealy / smoky barrel ferment characters on the nose and crammed with grapefruit in the seamless palate with hints of peach, roasted nuts and smoky oak. Incredibly dry with quivering acidity and a phenomenally long finish, it is scintillating now if you like this style but will develop more toastiness and creaminess with age. 14% alc. $37.99. 26Jun2013.

Forrest Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold with a smoky oak scent infused with juicy fruit that make it seem so fresh and inviting. Full of sweet nutty oak in the palate with spiced stonefruit, zingy citrus and a long toasty finish with a butterscotch coating, it's not too heavy and a lovely starter/ conversation wine. 13% alc. $17.99. 6Nov2013.
Light golden coloured with appealing toasty savoury oak that carries through to the smooth creamy palate where there's generous stone and citrus fruit and a touch of caramel on the lingering bready finish with a nice tingle of spice too. Very tasty. Not too heavy. Great ice-breaker wine. 13% alc. $17.99. 15Jan2014.
There's a butterscotch edge to the lightly toasted smoky oak, citrus and nectarine flavours of this nutty savoury Chardonnay pre-taster; not a big rich wine to knock your socks off but it is tasty and mouthfilling and sure gets you into the zone. 13% alc. $19.99. 23Apr2014.

Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (c) A polar opposite to the Fuder even though from the same vineyard. It's flinty, 'struck match' smoky and lean with a nutty meaty character that is not often seen in Chardonnay and lemon/lime notes that leave a very dry sucking on a river stone finish. Restrained as Chardonnay could ever be. One to put away for a while. 13.5% alc. $62.99. 23Apr2014.

Giesen The Fuder Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Utterly enticing from the outset and emphatically 'another glass please' delicious. Tantalising funky wild yeast nuances infuse the creamy oak scent and carry through to the rich, mouthfilling palate where tropical fruit and citrus zest hum along in harmony. It's oaky and malty with a nutty savoury undercurrent and a long creamy finish and a veritable crowd favourite on the night. 14% alc. $50.99. 23Apr2014.

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This has a medium gold hue and the bouquet is all grapefruit – I'm salivating, expecting something rather great and my expectations are met. The grapefruit theme carries through to the full-bodied palate that has underlying depth, richness and power with exciting wild yeast funk while citrus tones impart wonderful lift and freshness to the finish where subtle sizzled butter notes come through. Simply outstanding. $37.99. 29Jan2014
Grapefruit on the nose is infused by funky wild yeast scents and the taste is spicy and savoury with sizzled butter and wild yeast characters adding complexity. The citrus fruit profile imparts an incredibly fine acid spine, the silky seamless mouthfeel caresses the palate and the incredibly long and fulfilling finish is almost is immeasurable with smokiness from the French oak emerging as the wine lingers. Quite simply divine. My No.1 chardonnay of 2014. 14.5% alc. $37.99. 27Aug2014.

Hyperion Matakana Helios Chardonnay 2011 (D) Pale yellow gold. Delicate creamy oak scents with hints of stonefruit - clean, appealing. But lots of apple flavours in the palate and while creamy and leesy there seems to be little influence of oak. 14% alc. $32.00. 24Feb2012.

Julicher Estate Martinborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Mealy on the nose with buttered corn and melon, this is a full-bodied, savoury, toasty and yet zesty wine, and while it tastes a little mellow, a little lemon buttery, like it has some age, there is bright grapefruit-like acidity that's lively and fresh. Some lovely yeast lees action going on here and the intriguing savoury character brings the acidity into check leaving a finish that is mealy and long. Delightful match with chicken thigh baked with peaches. 13.5% alc. $22.90. 1Feb2013.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Rich, ripe, smoky and savoury with a sweet, nutty oak nuances to the scent and full-bodied smooth flavours crammed with tropical fruit, apples and hints of caramel. There's a lovely well-balanced freshness throughout and a long, rounded, lingering finish. 14.5% alc. $19.99. 10Oct2012.
There's plenty of oak in this youthful wine with nuances of pink bubblegum on the bouquet. Fruit is more in the fleshy stonefruit spectrum, tending towards apricot, and the caramel tones are creamy with nougat sweetness balanced by the citrussy backbone. 14.5% alc. $19.99. 5Dec2012.
There’s an attractive smoky nuance to the nutty oak bouquet and it tastes fruity and fresh with a nougat sweetness, a flinty mid-palate and a touch of caramel on the expansive creamy finish. 14.5% alc. $19.99. 20Feb2013.

Kakapo Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) With a tantalising creamy scent and bright fruit flavours of tropical fruit and melon with well balanced acidity and a biscuity oak finish, this harmonious wine ticks all the drinkability buttons and has an attractive 'arty 'label too. 14% alc. $19.99. 31Oct2012.
An inviting caramel cream bouquet, the caramel continuing into the palate that's so creamy and smooth with a light touch of oak that's integrated and seamless already. There's some lovely peach notes, a touch of melon and juicy sweet citrus adding lift and life to the finish. 14% alc. $19.99. 13Feb2013.

Kumeu River Kumeu Village Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Clear and bright in the glass, served quite chilled there's lemon butter on the nose and it's rich and oily in the palate with a fresh steely undercurrent and flavours of apricot, orange oil, pineapple and honeyed oak with lingering mealy, creamed nut flavours. Very different from the rather more oaky 2010. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 12Feb2014.

Lawson's Dry Hills The Pioneer Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Medium light gold. Butterscotch-infused smoky oak and touches of grilled peach fill the bouquet and the peach and toasty oak are joined by tantalising caramel and lightly spiced nuts in the creamy, buttery palate. Smooth and seamless with a long savoury, mealy finish, ready to drink – an absolute delight. 14.5% alc. $32.99. 3Dec2014.
A big Chardonnay in every sense, it’s golden in colour with a flamboyant bouquet that is leesy, smoky and toasty with citrus and peach pie. It tastes fat and juicy with lots of oak, lots of savoury mealy wild yeast characters, lots of fleshy stonefruit and peach leaf characters, refreshing grapefruit-like acidity and a long biscuity finish.14.5% alc. $32.99. 4Feb2015.

Mahi Twin Valleys Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Glossy citrine gold coloured with bright, creamy, mealy-infused nutty oak scents leading into a bold, rich, almost toasty flavoured palate. The citrus is heading more into orange zest than grapefruit it seems and there are lovely apricot and peach tones coming through. Then the grapefruit surges again on the creamy, savoury, mouthfilling finish and nutty notes linger. Exciting wine. 13.5% alc. $32.99. 5Mar2014.

Mahurangi River Winery Field of Grace Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold. Tasted along the 2010 and 2009, this is immediately more youthful, tighter, nutty, austere. While the bouquet is restrained, the taste is delightful - creamy yet flinty with obvious malo characters, oatmeal, fresh apricots and a nutty, nougat-delicious finish with fine caramel layers. Stylish, Burgundian-like, with exciting freshness –I’m thinking it will be perfect with crayfish. 13.5%. $39. 12May2013.

Marsden Estate Black Rocks Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold with a tantalising butterscotch bouquet, then mealy flavours to the fore in this powerful wine where winemaking complexities dominate, with spicy oak, citrus and tropical fruit coming into play. A bold, mouthfilling wine with a lovely smoky savouriness, richness and length. 13.5% alc. $32.99. 17Oct2012.

Matawhero Church House Gisborne Chardonnay Musque 2011 (sc) Light yellow with an aroma of apple skins. Moderate richness to the palate, a hint of sweetness, green apple and lime. And yes, the merest suggestion of musk comes through. Chardonnay Musque is a clone of Chardonnay with Muscat-like qualities. Definitely not Chardonnay as we know It. 12.2% alc. $27.00. 9Dec2011.

Matawhero Gisborne Barrel Ferment Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Tropical fruit and melons are to the fore with a suggestion of banana too. There a bright zesty undercurrent that's almost spritzy in nature and while oak is barely noticeable, there a nutty creaminess to the long savoury finish. 12.5% alc. $27.00. 10Oct2013.

Milcrest Estate Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold coloured with an enticing sweet lemon butter and toasted oak bouquet and warm, creamy, nutty, savoury flavours with nuances of apricot and citrus, a toasty succulent richness and a hint of butter caramel. Long and flavoursome with excellent length. 14.5% alc. $25.99.

Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold with lovely mealy nuances to the bouquet with creamy oak and a touch of stonefruit. Warm, rounded and spicy in the palate with a toasty richness, lots of ripe grilled peach flavours and a smooth creamy finish with a sensuous nut butter layer. 13.5% alc. $24.95. 1Sep2013.

Mission Vineyard Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) There's a golden mellow aura to this full-bodied, rounded, beauty. Smooth, silky and seamless in its flow. Mellow oak, toast, mealy notes, grilled peaches, nectarines and a flourish of zest to the spicy vanillin finish that lingers with great persistence. 13% alc. Screwcap. $13.99. 2Jul2014.

Momo Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Ah! The sweet scent of Chardonnay, toasted lemon bread, butter caramel, hints of grapefruit, mealy nuances and savoury oak – stylish and appealing. But a whack of oak is the foremost impression in the palate. Smoky oak, toasty oak, spicy oak, but then it melds harmoniously into the fruit that's all lemon with baked peaches and hints of nectarine. Then the grapefruit nuances come to the fore to add lift and length to the long creamy finish. Drink in a big glass and do lots of swirling. 14% alc. $19.95. 30Jun2013.

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Golden hued with smoky oak and grilled peach scents, this is seamless and rounded in the rich, full-bodied palate with harmonious flavours of stonefruit, roasted nuts and toasted savoury oak building to a powerful persistent finish. 14% alc. $24.99. 12Feb2014.

Mount Riley 17 Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This smells just divine too. It's full of sweet smoky oak and butter caramel scents and harmonious in the creamy palate with layers of nougat, grilled peach and caramel with a hint of citrus on the finish. Smooth and seamless, just lovely flow. Drinking beautifully right now. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 27Nov2013.

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light lemon gold with inviting nutty, mealy characters infusing the subtle French oak bouquet and rich, nutty and toasty in the palate with a powerful silky presence, nuances of peach jam and hints of grilled grapefruit in the background. Dry and long with a smoky savoury aura to the lingering flavours. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99. 18Jun2014.

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2011 - Nelson (sc) Light golden colour with a smoky oak and concentrated stone fruit bouquet, the rich peach fruit carries through to the harmonious palate with toasty oak and butter caramel to the fore, a rich, mealy complexity and a long smooth finish with just a touch of citrus freshness. Served blind, and lightly chilled, this wine immediately ticks all the easy-to-like, easy-to-drink boxes. Possibly the most forward, most approachable yet. 14% alc. $62.99. 17Oct2012.

Palliser Estate Martinborough Chardonnay 2011 This has all the bells and whistles. ‘Malo characters’ come foremost to mind on first tasting – I get the creaminess, the slight milkiness and the intertwined citrus. It’s a savoury wine with smoky nuances and roasted nuts and while tight and compact at this stage of its life the delectable stonefruit and nectarine in the background hint of what’s going to unfurl with a little more time. Barrel fermented with half from the indigenous yeasts, 11 months in oak and 32% malolactic fermentation. 13.5% alc. $39. 19Dec2012.

Palliser Pencarrow Martinborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Straw gold. Citrussy, steely aroma with little influence of oak of the fruit-driven wine but oak is there in the palate. Dry and steely, heading to the yellow citrus and apricot spectrum with a long, linear finish. Very tight at this stage of its life. 14% alc. $17.00. 24Feb2012.
Immediately attractive – and that’s not surprising because it is made in a ‘drink now’ style. It has a fresh lemon biscuit scent and there’s a spicy zesty freshness to the flavour with textural complexity making for a very pleasing mouthfeel. It has a juicy brightness with tropical fruit ( with a touch of pineapple) on the finish. Perfect when chilled for a couple of hours. Perfect for drinking this summer. 14% alc. $20.65. 19Dec2012.

Pask Declaration Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This is full-bodied and striking from the get-go. Bold toasty oak, smoky nuances to the grilled peach fruit, a mid-palate burst of citrus freshness that continues through to the roasted nut finish, and all the way through it is interweaved with butterscotch and caramel and savoury yeast flavours. 100% barrel ferment with wild yeasts in new French oak for 11 months, this is undeniably the star of the Chardonnay trio tonight and already so harmonious and enjoyable but an excellent cellaring proposition too. 13% alc. $39.99. 19Apr2013.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Pale yellow gold. Appealing creamy, butterscotch, mealy aroma with melon and peach. Oak initially dominant in the palate but melds into the smoky creamy nature of the wine. Lovely stonefruit and nectarine fruit with a hint of wheat germ. Quite refined and classy with fresh citrus and tropical fruit to the long juicy finish with youthful bubblegum esters and a cream caramel lusciousness. If someone gave me a glass of this, I would thoroughly enjoy it. 14% alc. $30.00. 24Feb2012.
Lemon gold and glossy. Aromas of honey coated roasted nuts. Ripe and juicy in the palate with toasty oak, wheatgerm, peaches, nut butter and caramel cream. Full-bodied and flavoursome, instantly hits the spot and the flavours linger cheerfully. 14% alc. $24.99. 29Aug2012.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This is in a heavy bottle with a very hard to remove screwcap. I couldn’t open it actually. I tried 3 times previously and gave up. This time Neil managed to remove the cap with the 'Power Opener'. In the glass it’s a light golden colour with a glossy lustre. The bouquet is a little stinky from the wild yeasts, reductive some might say, but I would describe it as a characteristic funky wild yeast scent infused with smoky oak, grapefruit and lemon. A powerful and generous wine to the taste with oak quite forward at this stage of its life. Varnishy oak with a toasty veneer and tingly zest with underlying mealy leesy savoury characters and a long creamy textured finish infused with brazil and hazel nuts and the citrus fruit vibrancy joined by bottled apricot and peach. Persistent, full bodied and lingering. A big wine with a high acid spine, I’d like to see it with a little more time. 13.5% alc. $35.95. 1Sep2014.

Richmond Plains Nelson Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold. A bit mealy on the nose - melon, loquats and citrus also come to mind. Rounded in the palate those mealy notes full and clean with a bright tangy flourish to the fresh, zesty finish with hints of candied fennel that seduce me. Very nice, but on the light side for Chardonnay. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 12Oct2013.

Rimu Grove Nelson Chardonnay 2011 There a touch of orange on the smoky nose and the taste is zesty and spicy, with the citrus heading towards grapefruit – even a subtle suggestion of ginger – but the mealy savouriness takes over, the texture becomes creamy, the oak flavours become richer and the finish is long, rounded and satisfying. 13.5% alc. $33.99. 6Feb2013.

Riverby Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) There's fresh roasted nuts and butterscotch on the nose of this golden yellow wine and it's full bodied and juicy in the palate with citrus (tending towards grapefruit), beurre noisette, a savoury mealy backbone, a touch of butterscotch and peaches and cream. 14% alc. $22.99. 5Jun2013

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This is a little floral on the nose yet quite neutral smelling in its moderately chilled state but it is rich and fleshy in the palate with a bright citrus tang that makes it seem so youthful and fresh. Stonefuit and tropical fruit mingle with the citrus and zest, there's an underpinning of toasty oak, and the finish is savoury and long. 13% alc. $19.99. 6Feb2013.
Golden coloured with a toasty oak and caramel aroma, juicy in the palate with citrus, stonefruit and nicely balanced mealy complexities and savoury oak. Easy to enjoy without too much thought. 13% alc. $19.99. 22May2013.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) There's a caramel cream nuance to the tantalising bouquet and butter caramel coats the smooth palate with toasty oak and grilled summer peaches adding richness and complexity while underlying acidity adds freshness. A bold, rich wine that is developing beautifully, Kingsley says drink over the next two years. 14.5% alc. $32.99. 28Nov2012.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Straw gold coloured with an inviting caramel cream bouquet, it tastes smooth and creamy with a nutty richness, juicy citrus, grilled stonefruit and a light coating of butterscotch to the long savoury finish that just seems to go on and on. There is something very stylish and more-ish about this lovely, lovely wine that seems so much more youthful than it is. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 3Dec2014.

Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) On the nose, while not overly fragrant, the scent is reminiscent of juicy melons and stonefruit with a touch of citrus in behind. It's a lighter style and initially seems dry and lean but fattens out on the finish leaving behind juicy flavours reminiscent of custard and fruit salad. 13.5% alc. $19.50 12Oct2013.

Seifried Barrique Ferment Nelson Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Already quite gold this is smoky with tropical fruit on the nose and toasty in the palate – it's full-bodied and oaky with a super smooth texture, savoury and nutty characters to the fore and harmonious layers of melons, grilled peaches, tropical fruit with a fresh acid spine that will mellow with time. Just starting to hint of some delectable caramel too. 14% alc. $22.99. 3Apr2013.
It's golden in colour and the bouquet is mellow, smoky and toasty. Malo imparts a smooth buttery character and there's a malty richness underpinned by a bright citrus seam with fleshy grilled peach and a bold toasty oak finish that lasts for minutes. 14% alc. $22.99. 23Oct2013.
There's something rather tantalising about the scent of this wine – it's seductively smoky with mealy notes and hints of grapefruit and pineapple. A bold toasty style in the mouth with a distinctive citrussy zing and sweet tropical fruit balanced nicely by savoury complexities. 14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99. 2Jul2014.

Te Mania Nelson Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light medium gold. Initially very reductive, particularly in the palate, so it was put on the bench and tried a couple of days later. Now it reductive character has gone and it has evolved into to a rich, full and very exciting wine. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 12Oct2013.

Te Mata Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc)A more medium bodied style of Chardonnay than many of the ones we drink at First Glass, this charmer has a bouquet of nuts and grilled peaches and the palate is crammed with juicy stonefruit and melon. There's a nutty savouriness and the harmonious sweet oak finish is layered with a delicate touches of caramel. 13% alc. $19.99. 13Mar2013.
Light yellow gold coloured with a tantalising creamy, mealy, peachy bouquet and bold, toasty flavours with grilled pineapple, nectarine and a zing of citrus on the powerful finish. Lots of warmth and oomph. 13% alc. 14May2014

Te Mata Elston Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (D) Warm, rounded and seamless with a nutty savouriness and youthful phenolics yet it's blossomed since release last year - it's rounded and expansive in the mouth and becoming quite fleshy. There's vanilla, white peach, an intriguing 'lime honey' nuance, a sweet biscuity oak backbone and a lingering finish of creamed nuts and nougat. Worth cellaring. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 13Mar2013.
The orange blossom bouquet has you going down another track than Chardonnay, but when you taste it, there is no doubt what it is. It's a smooth, creamy and caramel infused with layers of stonefruit, a lovely fresh citrus lift to the finish and harmoniously integrated oak. But it is still very young and while some will enjoy it already, this wine will continue to develop for several years. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 4Sep2013.

The Landing Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Full-bodied and layered with complexity, this heady wine continues the classy theme. It's toasty on the nose with flavours of nut-brown butter, rich ripe nectarine and white currant fruit, a clarity to the underlying savouriness and an exotic smokiness to the lingering finish. 13.1% alc. $29.99. 5Dec2012.

Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2011 (sc) It smells fruity with a hint of lanolin and tastes smoky, ripe, fruity and toasty with apricot jam, peach, melon, pineapple and passionfruit, with a spicy flourish to the zingy finish. Tasty and long. Chill for easy summer drinking. 14 % alc. $10.99. 8Jan2014.

Tohu Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 (sc) This unoaked Chardonnay oozes sherbet-like flavours with a slightly spritzy texture and delicate hints of an anise / fennel confectionery character. Not as good as the 2010 vintage of this wine, which was one of my favourite unoaked Chardonnays of the vintage. But delivers easy drinking in a light to medium-bodied style. Tasted at 7?C, which was too cold. As it warms up, it delivers richness and viscosity to the texture with a subtle creamy/butteriness coming through. 13% alc. $19.75 24Jan2012.

Trinity Hill Black Label Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Light gold with a toasty oak and roasted peach scent, this hits all the right buttons with its smooth creamy texture and rich, ripe flavours crammed full of golden peach, nectarine and roasted nuts with a long sizzled butter finish. 13% alc. $29.99. 29May2013.

Vidal Legacy Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Creamy, full-bodied, nougatty and mealy with distinctive grapefruit leesy characters on the nose, this is an expression of harmony as it flows across the palate with savoury, smoky, toasty oak and wild ferment characters, a little bit of flint, grilled peach and grapefruit. A wine that gently caresses and then empowers with its full mouthfeel and fruit richness that epitomises the best that Hawkes Bay can deliver. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 24Apr2013.

Vidal Reserve Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Oak greets you at the doorstep of this straw gold wine- you can smell it, you can taste it. It's soft and creamy in the mouth, with an underlying savouriness, subtle biscuit spice toastiness and the inferred sweetness of yellow plum. Mouthfilling and long, opening up nicely in the glass. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 15Aug2012.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2011 (sc) At first it seems tight, dry and almost steely with a bit of a struck match / flinty character but then the fruit bursts through. There's Gisborne's distinctive tropical fruit signature with juicy peach joining in and mealy yeast characters and oak playing a harmonious tune in the background. A soft, rounded and lightly creamy style, enjoyable with or without food. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 24Apr2013.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) There's a caramel layer to the mealy scent and it's full-bodied and malty in the balanced, harmonious palate. Oak is in sync with the rich stonefruit and mealy yeast characters, it's cool and refreshing without any alcoholic heat and the almost luscious finish is fresh and juicy with mouthfilling satisfaction. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 24Apr2013.

Villa Maria SV Ihumatao Auckland Chardonnay 2011 (sc) There's a fine seam of grapefruit zest on the perfectly savoury smoky oak scent, the grapefruit carrying through to the smooth, seamless, harmonious, palate joined by ravishing stonefruit and nougat, creamy and long. A lovely savoury spicy wine with a spicy richness and a creamy harmony. Yum! 13.5% alc. $29.99. 19Sep2012.
There are hazel nut nuances to the delicately smoky scent and it is even more nutty in the palate with hints of grapefruit coming through - this silky textured, beautifully harmonious and savoury wine is a stylish rendition of the Chardonnay grape with underlying freshness and distinctive flintiness in sync. 13% alc. $29.99. 14Nov2012.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Tantalising scent of hazels and cashews with a lovely infusion of oak spice, and toasty, creamy flavours accented with lovely savoury barrel ferment complexities, tropical fruit, nougat and allspice. There's a beautifully balanced citrus undercurrent and a seamless, harmonious flow. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 10Oct2012.
There's smoky oak and stonefruit on the nose, then in the full fleshy palate there is stonefruit, spicy oak and savoury, mealy nuances with hints of grapefruit. It's silky with a warm, smooth texture, the kind of wine that makes me think bread sauce with chicken. Drink now if you have too, but worth cellaring too. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 14Nov2012.
This a deep, rich, creamy textured Chardonnay with toasty oak aromas, a touch of grapefruit, a savoury mealy complexity and fine layers of caramel. From what many consider an earlier drinking vintage, it's delicious, seamless and so enjoyable already. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 6Mar2013.
The nutty oak scent is embossed with grapefruit and wild ferment characters and it's smooth and creamy in the warm, rounded palate. With mouthfilling stonefruit characters of peach and nectarine, an almost butterscotch-like cheekfilling presence, a harmonious savoury, mealy undercurrent and a seductively smoky and expressive finish, this powerful wine is irresistible already. 13.5% alc. 29.99. 24Apr2013.
The grapefruit and barrel ferment aromas emanate class, perhaps even some wild yeast funk contributing to the glorious scent (yes!). It's bold and bright with woodsmoke penetrating the almost luscious stonefruit with grapefruit like acidity keep the ripe fruit in check and while the fruit is ripe, the wine is dry and the finish is memorable and long. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 4Sep2013.
The bouquet is smoky and nutty with a toasty allure and a fragrant citrus brightness, and the taste is creamy with a nutty sweetness and a savoury richness with funky wild yeast notes and grilled stonefruit joining grapefruit on the finish. Rich, powerful, mouthfilling and long, it is developing beautifully. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 19Nov2014.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2011 (sc) A blend of Marlborough and Waimauku fruit, this is enticingly fragrant with an evocative floral/spice overtone to the mealy, nutty, citrus-infused scent. It's a warm, creamy/lactic style, harmonious in its flow, with nutty oak, pineapple, hints of nectarine and freshness to the full-bodied finish. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 24Apr2013.
Light gold with a creamy nutty bouquet – roasted hazelnuts and brazils come to mind – the nutty richness a lovely feature in the smooth creamy palate. A grapefruit-like zesty brightness is underpinned with mealy notes and the finish is long and savoury with hokey pokey emerging quite delectably. Full-bodied, concentrated, mouthfilling and long with lovely use of oak that supports the flavours all the way through. Another stunner from Auckland – in what was supposedly a 'difficult' year – and while beautiful drinking now, it will continue to develop in the nicest possible way. 13% alc. $29.50. 15Jun2014.

West Brook Waimauku Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Surprisingly quite golden in colour, perhaps a reflection of the vintage, Citrus and apples on the nose and creamy and leesy in the palate with spicy French oak and Brazil nuts and plenty of underlying acidity. All melds well together and the finish is pleasing. A good match to terakihi. 13% alc. $29.50 2Aug2012.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Chardonnay 2011 (sc) Quite savoury on the nose with creamy oak nuances, the savouriness carrying through to the palate. Winemaking characters rather than fruit dominate this slightly oxidative style. Best served chilled as it seems more balanced. A resounding match to pork. 14% alc. $30.00. 12Jan2013.

[2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [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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