Is Auckland the real Chardonnay capital of New Zealand? Wine producers from Gisborne and Hawkes Bay may not think so but on a production to quality basis, Auckland produces some magnificent Chardonnay wines.
There's Kumeu River, of course - regarded by most of New Zealand critics as one of the top Chardonnay producers in New Zealand (and by myself as the No.1 Chardonnay producer). There's Villa Maria Estate with their Ihumatao Single Vineyard Chardonnay. More recently West Brook Wines Waimauku Chardonnay, first produced as Ivicevich Chardonnay in 2004, is now turning heads everywhere. It's a magnet to gold coloured medals and when Waimauku fruit is blended with Marlborough fruit for their 'Barrique Fermented' wine, there is a real "x" factor to the taste.
I raved about the West Brook Ivicevich Waimauku Chardonnay 2006 in a blog entry on, March 31st 2009 along with two other Auckland beauties - the Matakana Estate Matakana Chardonnay 2007 and Ascension 'The Ascent' Matakana Chardonnay 2007. And I haven't even mentioned Waiheke Chardonnay yet - although two were listed in this year's Cuisine Top Ten - where West Brook Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2009 (with a percentage of Waimauku fruit) came in at No. 2. With West Brook Waimauku Chardonnay 2008 receiving five stars and coming in at Number 12 - that's four Auckland wines in Cuisine's top dozen.
Now there's another real top quality Auckland Chardonnay that's just made its debut.
Waimarie Muriwai Valley Chardonnay 2008 is the first release from this label. It's a tiny production wine - just 282 bottles (from one barrel) were made.
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.
It's a wine that can be enjoyed now but a little more time in the bottle wouldn't hurt - I'm thinking it would be perfect around about Christmas Day.
The bottle is closed with a Diam cork and alcohol clocks in at a respectable 13%. Price is relative to production. The picture on the label is the magnificent Muriwai coastline.
Chardonnay grapes from Waimarie's Muriwai Valley vineyard were first harvested in 2007 but with not enough to fill one barrel, they instead were a small contribution to Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2007.
Waimarie Wines has a brand new cellar door at 505 State Highway 16 (a.k.a. Main Road), Kumeu. It's called Wine and Art and they share the premises with other local wineries - Mahana Ridge, Waimauku Sands and Kaipara Estate as well as Gallery Q.
Find out more from www.waimariewines.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
19 Jul 2010