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Wine of the Week for week ending 19 Dec 2010
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Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay 2006
Marlborough, New Zealand

"We've tasted so many good wines this week, I don't know which one to make the Wine of the Week," I lamented to Neil.

"What about that Chardonnay we opened. You could write about the joys of opening a well-cellared wine."

And we did open a delicious one - Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Marlborough Chardonnay 2006, almost five years old, although you would get no indication of that by the youthful straw gold colour. However, smell the wine and taste it and you will see the evolution into a mouthfilling toasty wine with what can sometimes be distinctive Marlborough citrus flavours now more like lemon meringue and so beautifully integrated. The texture is smooth and seamless with fig and nougat underlying grilled stonefruit and caramel, and salted butterscotch on the lasting finish where zesty nuances add a bright kick. There's finesse to the lingering aftertaste. An absolute treat and an inspiring accompaniment to marinated chicken meat cooked on the barbecue in true Kiwi summer style.

This wine cost $22.50 on release, although of course it is no longer available to buy, but I know that some of the people who read my ramblings are the kind of people who cellar their wines. So if you have this in your cellar, I think it would be a real treat to open this Christmas.

Shelter Belt is named for the belt of gum trees that encircle the Jackson Estate Homestead, providing shelter for the fruit trees and the barbecue. The chardonnay grapes come entirely from the Grey Ghost vineyard on the other side of the gum trees. Made from hand-picked Clone B95 and Mendoza Chardonnay grapes that were whole cluster pressed and run to barrel, the ferment was started naturally by indigenous yeasts. Alliers and Vosges oak barrels, of which 25% were new. Spontaneous secondary malolactic fermentation occurred in the barrel and the wine was bottled in February 2007. barrel. It has 14% alcohol and a screwcap closure.

2006 was an exceptional year in Marlborough and while the quality of the Sauvignon Blanc that year was outstanding, so too was the Chardonnay. This is the proof. I'm glad I left the Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay 2006 in the tasting box all this time.

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© Sue Courtney
13 Dec 2010

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