Some how I had managed to accrue a mini-vertical of the Dog Point Chardonnay. The vintages were 2007, 2008 and 2009. We decided that as stay-at-home rugby watchers for the Rugby World Cup final, it was the right occasion to taste them. This was a tasting I was looking forward to as the 2006 vintage from Dog Point was one of my favourites, ever.
As a mini-vertical, the wines were not tasted blind. If they had been, I could have picked these refined elegant wines as coming from Auckland, specifically Kumeu. Of course they are not, as Dog Point is in Marlborough. They are the Kumeu River of Marlborough – and that's high praise as Kumeu River is my favourite chardonnay producer.
These wines look amazingly similar in their light citrine colour. There is no way one could pick the vintage by hue unless one had inside knowledge. Interestingly, the 2007 is marginally lighter than the 2008 and looks almost identical to the 2009. According to the tasting notes the wines have been made the same way. All of the grapes are harvested from the Dog Point Vineyard and are Mendoza and Clone B95. Fermentation takes place by the action of indigenous yeasts in French oak, of which only a small portion (up to 15%) is new. The wines spend 18 months in barrel with some battonage and extended yeast lees contact before being blended. The bottles are sealed with natural corks and price for the current release is $33 a bottle.
These are my notes.
Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
The exquisite aroma has refined smoky oak with a subtle nutty sweetness, a baking biscuit nuance and an infusion of sweet citrus. Smooth and seamless as it crosses the palate, it's quite mealy with a toasty layer and an expansive finish where melon and tangelo combine with the savoury oak to linger elevatedly. Four years old, yet seems so youthful. An exciting New Zealand wine. Beautiful and delicious are words that came to mind. 14% alcohol.
Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2008
The influence of wild yeast is a little more apparent on the nose. It smells bolder than the 2007 with its grapefruit purity, smoky French oak and butterscotch caramel. In fact the bouquet is just fantastic and the promise it offers delivers in the taste.
Full yet fine in the palate with the citrus purity coming through, there's a lovely mealy savouriness with creamed cashews then butterscotch nuances coating the seamless finish. Simply sensational. 14.5% alc.
Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
The bouquet is of refined nutty oak with a smoky allure and characteristic citrus zest. Mealy and leesy with clean, pure fruit in the melon and citrus spectrum and subtle funky wild yeast nuances coming through. In the context of the three wines it's the most tightly locked up with fine acidity the key, but in the context of the three wines it suggests the most long term potential. 14% alc.
The nuts in the context of these tasting notes are sweet creamy nuts, like cashews and macadamias – we did the taste test you see.
After the initial wine tasting we accompanied the wines with our dinner. I had chosen a chicken dish I had played around with a couple of weeks ago. The chicken has a subtle citrus suggestion and I though this would go well with the citrussy character of the wines. It did and the wine and food match was quite sensational. Here is the recipe.
This tasty chicken dish is a variation on a recipes from a Family Circle Collectors Cookbook of chicken recipes (c. 1983). Called Chicken Coriander, I substituted tangelo juice for lemon juice, added tangelo zest and omitted chilli and the three tablespoons of brown sugar as it seemed like this addition would make it horribly sweet. The food is prepared in a frying pan that you can transfer to the oven. I used four boneless chicken thighs, each portion halved.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan, stir in 1 small onion that has been grated together with 1 tablespoon of ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the juice and zest of a tangelo (or an orange if you like). Cook until the onion softens.
Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture and place them in a single layer in the pan. Place in a moderate oven (175 degrees C) to cook until tender. Turn after 30 minutes and baste regularly.
The Dog Point Chardonnays are for true Chardonnay lovers. Beautifully crafted wines from Ivan Sutherland and James Healy. Check out www.dogpoint.co.nz to find out more.
Remove from the oven, taking care not to burn your hand on the panhandle. Remove the chicken, stir in two tablespoons of flour and then a cup to a cup-and-a-half of chicken stock to make a sauce. Add more liquid and salt and pepper if you think it still needs it.
Plate the chicken, pour over the sauce and accompany with baked grated carrots and baby beans.
© Sue Courtney
24 October 2011