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edited by Sue Courtney
e-mail address: winetaster@clear.net.nz

Wine of the Week for week ending 21 March 2010
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Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay 2008
Martinborough Terraces, New Zealand

I'm still drinking Chardonnay and enjoying it. This week's Wine of the Week was in my Top 3 in last week's tasting but with a little bit taken out of the bottle and a couple of days letting it evolve, it lost its tight hold and turned into something even more sublimely gorgeous. The food match may have had something to do with it too. We had Alaskan King crab legs in the freezer - originally destined for New Years Eve, one each for our little group of four, but when another friend turned up, the menu had to be changed because four into five didn't go. Now, inspired by the decadent crayfish ravioli at Soul during the week I thought perhaps a decadent butter sauce for the crab legs. Well, perhaps not so delectable and thick and unctuous and awesome as Soul's version, but tasty nevertheless. My version was more of a garlic-infused melted butter, the butter cooked till it just started to become nutty, then flavoured with salt and pepper and, in the absence of tarragon, a few chopped leaves of Thai basil that have a similar anise-y tang. The legs were steamed and served with lashings of the butter sauce.

The wine, Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Terrace Chardonnay 2008, is light gold in colour. On the nose, when first opened, it seems like a big, rich funky style with thick textured flavours of caramel, sweet oak, spice, toast and nougat. It's full on and very powerful. But just that extra time in the bottle with a little air - the aromas are sublimely tantalising - rich, creamy and mealy with lovely barrel work imparting caramel, sweet oak and nougat scents and a funky savouriness to the stonefruit and melon flavours. The texture is smooth and creamy and ever so much more layered and complex with juiciness to the finish and a nutty character emanating from deep within. The difference is marginal, more nutty perhaps, but enough to take the wine to an extra level of enjoyment.

Martinborough Vineyard is known for its Pinot Noir and I recently blogged about the high end Marie Zelie Pinot Noir. It should be noted at the same tasting the Martinborough Vineyards Martinborough Terrace Chardonnay 2007 also put on a star performance. Golden in hue with lemony, leesy, mellow oak and oak spice on the nose with perfumed barrel-0ferment scents to the fore, it is a fat, creamy, spicy wine with a savoury backbone, hints of stonefruit and a touch of citrus. This was served with some delicious cheese - a Puits de Astier ewe milks cheese gave the wine a pleasing piquancy. But brie-like L'Edel de Cleron pasteurised cow's milk cheese served with freshly made brioche and conserved figs with a star ani, clove and cinnamon sugar syrup made the wine seem absolutely seamless.

With performances like this, the Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Terraces Chardonnay may be taking over the crown as top Chardonnay of the Martinborough region.

Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Terrace Chardonnay 2008 is the current release. It has 14% alcohol and a screwcap closure. Expect to pay about $40 a bottle.

Find out more from www.martinborough-vineyard.com.

© Sue Courtney
15 Mar 2010


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E-mail me: winetaster@clear.net.nz