The other night we opened a chardonnay that ticked all the boxes.
Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2009 is a ripe, creamy chardonnay with abundant flavours of juicy nectarine underpinned by a nutty savouriness and a touch of citrus brightening the finish. The aroma hints of grapefruit with lovely creamy, mealy, barrel fermentation characters that are quite enticing and the hint of nougat that adds sweetness to the scent comes forth on the palate to linger on the creamy, seamless finish.
It's the Chardonnay I've recommended as an all-rounder and 'Wine of the Month' to readers of my column in Urban and Country (a monthly magazine inserted in Fairfax's Waikato region newspapers). It's got oak but it's nicely integrated rather than being heavy or overpowering and the oak, the fruit and the savoury winemaking complexities are perfectly in sync.
What's also nice about this wine is that it nice just on its own. You can sip on it with friends or as you're cooking dinner – something simple like chicken and apricot casserole. Made from sauteed onions, chicken pieces, chicken stock powder and a can of apricots, it takes all of 5 minutes to prepare and you can enjoy the chardonnay and some nibbles while the oven does its thing.
The notes for this wine say that six clonal selections of chardonnay were hand harvested and pressed to barrels for fermentation – 30% of those fermented by the actions of indigenous yeast and with partial malo-lactic fermentation. All the batches aged on the yeast lees for 12 months before blending and bottling. The finished wine as 14% alcohol, it's sealed with a screwcap and is listed on the Spy Valley website with a price of $20.30. Of course it always pays to shop around.
Spy Valley not only has great wine – I must confess I am a fan of most of what they make – they also have a good story. The catchy name is in reference to the GSBC satellite station further along the Waihopai Road in Marlborough where the Spy Valley vineyard and cellar door is located. The Waihopai satellites are referred to by many as 'Spybase'. Spy Valley has carried the spy theme into all their labels – Echelon, Envoy and Satellite - and Morse code spelling out Spy Valley (... .--. -.-- ...- .- .-.. . -.--) surrounds the skirt of the screwcap closures.
© Sue Courtney
6 Jun 2011