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Wine Reviews - Chardonnay
2013 and younger vintages
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 24 Nov 2016

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Chardonnay notes, listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

Click on year to go to reviews for that vintage
[2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

2015 Vintage [top] [index]

Babich Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) The bouquet of this light hued wine has vibrant aromas of pineapple and pear, hints of banana and touches of oatmeal. It’s a juicy, fruit forward, medium-bodied style with fresh acidity, loads of tropical fruit, brightness to the zesty finish and an increasing mealy richness that adds a welcome savouriness as the wine lingers. An unoaked wine with an unbelievable result of Cuisine 5 stars & No. 1. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 17Aug2016.

Brancott Letter Series O Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Hokey pokey aromas fill the bold rich bouquet of this golden-hued wine and it is full of flavour in the opulent palate with juicy Golden Queen peaches, spicy cedary oak and a smooth seamless butterscotch finish with fabulous length. Oodles of toasty chardonnay satisfaction. 14% alc. $19.99. 7Sep2016.

Brancott Letter Series 'O' Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Gorgeous nutty, creamy, lemony, leesy nuances fill the bouquet of this terrifically mouthfilling style with the richness of malt, barley and honeyed oak foiled by the beautifully balanced citrussy backbone and lingering toasty oak and caramel. The citrus is bright and extends the finish gracefully. Just loved, lved, loved this, especially with only the lightest of chilling. This review is of the one with the red house on the label. 14% alc. $19.99. 16Nov2016.

Church Road Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Glossy gold with toasty oak on the bouquet following through to the palate that's full of peach with hints of tropical fruit and spicy savoury undertones. Medium-bodied, mouthfilling and creamy with a citrus burst to the juicy finish. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 22Jun2016.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Medium gold with a glossy lustre. A little reductive on the nose with grapefruit and smoky French oak. Full bodied, malty and creamy in that mouth with a flinty backbone, a savoury complexity and touches of caramel balanced by grapefruit and mandarin with spiced peach fleshing out the finish and lots of juicy yellow fruits in the mix. 14.5% alc. $19.99. 1Jun2016.
This will hit the spot for many Chardonnay fans with its powerful malt and toast bouquet and the taste that’s layered with toast, creamy oak and citrus with grapefruit and oranges to the fore and a biscuity finish with terrific persistent and length. Has become a lot more harmonious with time in the bottle and the reductive character is not so noticeable now. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 23Nov2016.

Coopers Creek The Limeworks Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) This has a lovely creamy nutty mealy bouquet with nuances of gunflint and peach and while it initially seems a restrained Burgundian-influenced style, the flavours compound with gusto. There’s oatmeal, savoury oak and spice vibes with harmonious touches of citrus and peach. Evolving beautifully in the bottle, it's a serious style, more dinner party than 5 o'clock drinks. 13.5% alc. $22.99. 23Nov2016.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) A bold, golden chardonnay with a proud toasty oak and grapefruit bouquet and the grapefruit vibrant and upfront in the palate before stepping into the momentarily flinty background to let the peach and apricot fruit sing with spicy savoury oak a great foil to the juicy fruit sweetness and hints of butter caramel emerging on the powerful finish. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 26Oct2016.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Light citrine gold with a lustrous hue. The bouquet is full, rich, nutty and spicy with sweet polished oak and grilled stonefruit, and the flavours are crammed with creamy oak, loads of peach, a mealy lemon biscuit richness and a toasty finish with butterscotch and crème brulee emerging as decadently long, mouthcoating, flavours linger. 14% alc. $32.99. 5Oct2016.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Creamy oak infused with grapefruit fills the bouquet of the light gold-hued wine and there's plenty of toasty oak upfront in the palate. A wild yeast barrel fermented style with grapefruit, stonefruit, flinty reductive characters and a dry finish. It shimmers with class and while there are glimpses of generosity it is overall still very tight but should be wonderful for Christmas. 14% alc. $27.99. 22Jun2016.

Gibbston Valley China Terrace Central Otago Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Light gold, clear and bright. The bouquet is concentrated and full with hints of grapefruit, just out of the oven vanilla biscuits, a waft of nutmeg and a sweet yeasty aura. The taste is concentrated and creamy with youthful acidity, an amalgam of citrus accented with apple and hints of ginger, an earthy flinty undercurrent and wild yeast esters. It has a profound depth of flavour, beautifully honed integrated oak and a juicy succulence to the zesty finish that is long and persistent. Cuisine 5 stars. 14.5% alc. $34.99. 17Aug2016.
Grapefruit fills the bouquet – invitingly reductive if you like that kind of thing (I do!) – and grapefruit and malty, leesy, savoury oak characters abound in the lightly creamy palate with tantalising nutty nuances and a stonefruit sweetness. The acidity is beautifully balanced and the finish is long and flavoursome with haunting smoky oak nuances. Stylish is definitely the word. 14.5% alc. $34.99. 16Nov2016.

Greystone Waipara Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Shy on the nose with delicate nutty oak and quite tight, linear and flinty on first tasting with stonefruit sweetness welling up from within building to an expressive mouthfilling finish with flavours of lemonade and malt biscuits lingering. Still a baby, will develop more complexity with cellaring. 14.2% alc. $31.99. 16Nov2016.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Light yellow gold with a reasonably powerful, buttery oak bouquet and a full-bodied, generous, smooth flowing presence with vibrant tropical fruit, melon and stonefruit over a backbone of butter and spicy oak with citrus and pineapple on the bold lingering finish. Fruit from the Moutere region with 11 months in French and American oak. 14% alc. $22.99.25May2016.

Mills Reef Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Lemon yellow glints infuse the light gold hue. The bouquet radiates yellow stonefruit with a light malo influence that sits in nicely. Quite zesty on first tasting, the acidity is moderate not high. Brimming with flavours of stone fruit, melon and tropical fruit — like a peach/pineapple/mango fruit salad — just the slightest suggestion of pineapple as a highlight. A bright fresh fruity style with little influence of oak and a long juicy finish. I like this as it is a terrific mainstream socialising style — not too heavy, not too light – and the stonefruit flavours are juicy and delicious on the finish. 12.5% alc. $20. 16Jun2016.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) This is a light fresh lemon Chantilly cream Chardonnay with lightly buttery savoury oak and a hint of peach and a touch of spice as the aftertaste lingers.. It's a light citrine hue with a bouquet of delicate smoky oak and lemon biscuits and the taste offers up plenty of satisfaction. I can see this developing into something quite rich and caramelly with a little more time. Ripe now it's a lovely lunchtime, aperitif or entrée / seafood main course style. 13.5% alc. $24.95. 15Mar2016.

Pukeora Estate Central Hawkes Bay Limestone Hills Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Golden yellow. Powerful, concentrated aromas of citrus butter and buttery oak with a savoury complexity. A big, bold, mouthfilling wine full of juicy yellow fruit with a buttery halo, integrated savoury oak and a grapefruit zing to long, smooth, creamy and just off-dry finish. From vineyards on the hill surrounding the old sanatorium in Waipukurau south of Napier, Pukeora means 'hill of health.' 14.6% alc. $18.99. 10Aug2016.

Rod Mc Donald Wines One Off Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) This has a bold rich bouquet full of grapefruit and opulent barrel ferment notes that are just so enticing and the taste delivers on the aromatic promise. A rich chewy style with malty leesy mealy characters to the fore, juicy tropical fruit including pepino, a tingle of zest and an attractive smoky finish. Drinking beautifully already. 14% alc. $23.99. 23Mar2016.

Rod McDonald Wines One Off Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) The bouquet offers up an abundance of fruit with grapefruit and peach but in the palate it is initially a more savoury style. It’s very malty, leesy and lemony with smoky bacon nuances – think peach wrapped in bacon and grilled – and a long, bright, zesty, spicy finish with the fruit sweetness emerging and lingering. From 9-year-old Clone 15 vines from an inland site with 100% Hungarian oak fermentation. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 9Nov2016.

Rod McDonald Wines Quarter Acre Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) The bouquet unlocks a memory of original blue-green Radox mineral bath salts as well as more typical savoury, toasty, mealy nuances while deep inhaling reveal hints of sandalwood and hand cream. Focused and restrained in a Burgundian style – it’s savoury, flinty, earthy and malty with spicy oak and a seamless flow, not overtly fruity – perhaps pear and a hint of pepino, and while it doesn’t seem big at first it builds in concentration and packs a punch on the finish with lingering notes of lemon and lime. Fascinating wine. Cuisine No 8. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 17Aug2016.
Wonderfully bold, smoky, creamy, leesy, biscuity bouquet with noticeable influences of wild yeasts and malo. Again the acidity noticeable in palate but the toasty oak more honeyed, more vanillin, more cedary with the backbone quite flinty and the finish long, full, rounded and creamy with touches of candied pineapple lingering. From 25-year-old Mendoza clone on a coastal site, it oozes quality. 13% alc. $27.99. 9Nov2016.

Rod McDonald Wines Te Awanga Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Creamy bouquet with appealing peachy nuances and a hint of smoky oak. Powerful on first tasting with nutty, malty flavours and a slightly bitey zing underpinning the noticeably toasty / varnishy oak then when the wave of acidity subsides the finish is firm and long with concentrated stonefruit and vanilla. From a coastal site within 300 metres of the ocean. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 9Nov2016.

Sacred Hill Orange Label Chardonnay 2015 (sc) The bouquet of this light golden with is fresh and very lightly oaked with delicate fruit salad and melon with a hint of butter. The taste is fresh and fruity with light oak and a touch of creaminess and a delicate savouriness bringing it all into balance, finishing with a soft, citrussy zing. Actually it’s not too bad for someone who likes a lighter style / juicy, fruity / simple type of wine. Polished with butterscotch nuances when tasting with camembert cheese..13.5% alc. $19.99. 11Dec2015.

Squawking Magpie The Gravels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Quite a rich gold in the glass. Passionfruit curd initially fills the bouquet and tropical fruit dominates the flavours with buttery (diacetyl) esters and 'banana bike' lollies for those who can remember them — this banana confectionary attribute then so obvious on the bouquet while a touch of mandarin peel hones in the ripe tropical fruit finish. A very ripe fruit driven style with oak hibernating in the background. 14% alc. $24.99. 13Jul2016.

Stoneleigh Wild Valley Wild Ferment Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 (sc) A glossy gold hue with a lightly smoky, lightly peachy, light caramelly bouquet that's just so delectable and appealing - and all this comes through in the palate with a caramel-coated toast oak character and soft smooth flow. Loving this with salad, especially the salty cucumber - this salt and the wine go beautifully together. Fantastic aperitif style. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 22Mar2016.

The Landing Bay of Islands Northland Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Bright golden in hue with inviting aromas of creamy nutty oak with accents of tropical fruit then in the palate ripe stonefruit flavours with hints of pineapple woven with butter caramel over a savoury, mealy nutty oak backbone while youthful fresh acidity provides balance and mouthfilling length. 13.5% alc. 38.99. 10Aug2016.
Golden in colour. Tropical fruit and creamy nutty oak on the nose carries through to the palate that's smooth, savoury and mealy with sizzled butter and spice and a touch of pineapple adding brightness to the long, mouthfilling finish. Lovely touches of fleshy stonefruit emerge with hints of butter caramel while fresh acidity keeps the wine seamless and balanced. 13.5% alc. $38.99. 31Aug2016.

Theory & Practice Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Light gold in hue with fruit salad and crème brulee on the nose then rich, bold and toasty in the palate with roasted nuts, melon and stonefruit brightened by zesty citrus acidity that's softened by the long creamy finish with just a hint of caramel. Fruit is from the Cape Kidnappers area this year. 14% alc. $19.99. 22Jun2016.

Ti Point Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) This is surprisingly golden for such a young wine. It's smells fresh and peachy and the taste is smooth, soft and creamy - slipping down easily with hints of grilled peach, touches of mandarin zest and polished oak making a solid impression at the end. A medium-bodied style with fresh and brightness and well-balanced savoury toastiness. 13.5% alc. $22.99. 11Apr2016.

Tohu Gisborne Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Light lemon gold with an inviting bouquet with hints of caramel, tropical fruit and melon - classically Gisborne - I haven't had one like this for a long time. Surprisingly spritzy on first tasting - like fizzy fruit sherbet lollies with the creaminess form the malo enhancing everything and giving a seamless flow. A lovely bright summery Chardonnay with sweet citrus / mandarin and a touch of honey sweetness to be enjoyed chilled in the sun. 13.5% alc. $21.95. 14Jan2016.

Vavasour Anna’s Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Peach, cedar and malo notes fill the bouquet and it's full of peach, tropical fruit and vanilla in the mouthfilling palate that has a bright zesty citrus zing and a rich mealy undercurrent that extends into the long, smooth, seamless finish. Long, full and delicious. A wine for lovers of big, rich Chardonnays. 14% alc. $39.99. 19Oct2016.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Light gold in hue with a delicate toasty nuance to the bouquet together with a touch of stonefruit, and beautifully rounded and creamy in the medium to full-boded palate with the toast and stonefruit more pronounced and a touch of spice and zest on the finish that lingers deliciously. Young but exceptionally tasty, just perfect as the welcome wine. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 6Apr2016.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Tropical fruit fills the bouquet with complex, nutty, savoury, mealy notes and hints of grilled nectarine adding to the allure, and the taste is full-bodied and toasty with hazelnut, cedar and nutmeg notes, a complex mealiness, a beautiful almost butterscotch overtone and a sweet smokiness wafting through the honeyed oak finish that has bright, spicy accents. Wonderfully persistent, mouthfilling and long. Cuisine 5 stars. 14% alc. $26.99. 17Aug2016.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Quite reductive and a little pongy when first sniffed immediately after pouring but this subsides to reveal stonefruit and mealy notes with touches of cedar. The taste is full-bodied, powerful, savoury, spicy and a little earthy at this stage of its life with vibrant citrus-infused tingles on the front of the tongue, a flinty slightly lean mid palate then quite savoury and soft on the back palate finishing with concentrated honeyed oak and grilled stonefruit with a nutty complexity and mouthfilling length. Cuisine 5 stars. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 17Aug2016.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Upfront reductive struck match characters on the bouquet then very attractive mealy, savoury, cedary scents that echo in the palate where the initial impression is all juicy ripe stonefruit, yet the wine is flinty and dry with grapefruit coming through in a meticulous balancing role. There are also hints of mineral bath salts with the mealy yeasty flavours more pronounced on the long, concentrated, mouthfilling finish. Cuisine 5 stars. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 17Aug2016.

Wairau River Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 (sc) Ah, the sweet smell of Chardonnay – like freshly baked buns, like pineapple cake, like Chelsea buns with pineapple citrus icing together with savoury mealy nuances and a sweet smoky allure. In the mouth it’s initially zesty with a youthful vibrancy becoming full-bodied and creamy with a mouthfilling yeasty savoury complexity and a masterfully long finish where a fantastic combo of juicy tropical fruit and peach lingers tantalisingly. This was just fabulous with the food I cooked the night I opened it – a hot pot of chicken, bacon, potato and leek. 13.5% alc. $30. 10Jun2016.

2014 Vintage [top] [index]

Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Abundant grapefruit, flint, gunsmoke and wild yeast barrel ferment complexities radiate from the glass to tantalise the nose and the flinty/gun smoke characters are also quite prominent in the palate. It’s a reductively made wine with struck match / sulphide characters – attributes that polarise winemakers and winelovers but if you like them you will find this wine very complex and layered. Served lightly chilled for the tasting I find flavours of nougat, preserved lemon and grilled pineapple with a touch of salinity to the long, full, finish that has a harmonious infusion of cedar. Loved it. 14% alc. $25.99. 20Jan2016.
Full-on bouquet of gunflint and grapefruit with mellow toasty oak and grilled peach. Smooth and creamy in the substantial palate where a harmonious cedar is interjected with citrus and the gunflint notes continue. Very dry, a little steely with underlying savouriness and an expansive finish, it’s a wine that should only ever be lightly chilled – too cold and it masks the delicate nougat and tropical fruit notes.. 14% alc. $25.99. 12Oct2016.

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light golden hue with all the complex mealy barrel ferment aromas and bold spicy flavours with a nutty / mealy complexity and mouthfilling touches of grilled peach and homey dew melon wrapped in grilled proscuitto, then a well balanced citrussy zing as the mealy flavours linger. There's an underlying malty / leesy / savouriness too. Best served with food. 14% alc. $24.95. 14Jan2016.

Black Barn Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Lemon gold in hue with enchanting peaches and cream nuances to the delicate vanilla and toasted oak bouquet. Full-bodied, toasty, spicy and cedary in the mouth with opulent peach and melon fruit, accents of grapefruit peel and a lovely nutty, savoury undercurrent to the long, creamy finish where lemon bread / malo influences emerge and linger. The wine is a class act and while delicious already it could become sensational with a little more time. 13.5% alc. $43.99. 7Oct2015.
The bouquet reveals biscuity notes and stonefruit brims through the savoury oak / sweet oak / honeyed oak / creamy oak flavours that are underpinned by lemony, leesy, mealy notes. Tonight it seems quite youthful and would benefit from further bottle development but you can sense that it’s a big wine to wrap your tongue around. Decant for immediate drinking. 13.5% alc. $39.99. 23Mar2016.

Brancott Box Letter Series O Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light yellow gold. Sweet toasty oak on the nose - like a hot buttered slice of toasted baguette yet the bouquet also exudes a mealy creaminess with a very appealing nuance of peach. Lifted in the palate with citrussy flavours honed in by the complex mealy flavours. Smooth, long and creamy with a zing of orange on the spicy oak finish. A classy, elegant style and a lovely accompaniment to baked salmon and fennel. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 8Jan2016.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) The lemony oak of the savoury bouquet is so delicate and restrained it seems that it is hardly there. Very tight, almost sending a shiver down the spine on first tasting, but you realise this is just upfront youthful awkwardness because it blossoms into a fleshy delight as it traverses the palate. All apples, mandarin and honeyed nuts with the smooth roundness of caramel on the finish, becoming full and creamy as the flavours linger. It just needs a couple more months for the initial bite to settle down. 13.3% alc. $19.99. 26Aug2015.

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) This brand new release offers up an exciting bouquet of flint, gunsmoke, grilled grapefruit segments and zest. And the taste delivers satisfaction in spades. It's full-bodied, rounded and creamy with a mellow savoury aura, nutty oak, nougat, grapefruit and melon flavours, a lingering stonefruit impression and a soft silky flow. A classy, elegant glassful with a medium gold glossy hue, it's been wild yeast fermented in French oak barriques and reminds me of the acclaimed Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006. Outstanding. 14.5% alc. $31.99. 27Jan2016.
Moderate gold, lustrous in appearance. The bouquet is an amalgam of smoky oak, grapefruit, toasted baguette and a touch of melon jam, the latter adding a sweet allure. Quite dry, spicy and malty on first tasting, the oak a little unresolved at this stage perhaps, becoming mouthfilling and fleshy with white peach and honeydew melon, but mostly reductive savoury wild yeast complexities with wet potters clay and a delicious touch of caramel emerging as the flavours linger. 14% alc. $31.99. 1Jun2016.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold with a smoky, grilled peach and polished oak bouquet infused with grapefruit and mealy notes and powerful, toasty, spicy oak and honeyed roasted nut flavours with juicy peach and melon. Full, rounded, juicy, fleshy, succulent and savoury with a mouthfilling seamless finish - lightly chilled this is irresistibly delicious. 14% alc. $19.99. 16Sep2015.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Radiant lime-tinged gold. Hedonistic vanilla biscuit nuances to the bouquet – subtle yet sensual. Fresh in the palate with hints of pineapple and citrus zest and then a touch of struck match that adds to the pleasure rather than detracts. Rich, toasty, creamy, mouthfilling, savoury and mealy with spicy French oak and malo influences – the citrus cuts through the weighty components beautifully. Gold Royal Easter Show. 14% alc. $32.99. 9Mar2016.

Coopers Creek SV 'The Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Golden in colour with toasty aromas and flavours, this is a full, rich, creamy wine with juicy grilled freshly picked Golden Queen peaches, a soft buttery mouthfeel, a fresh acid spine and lashings of spicy oak and salted caramel. Super approachable already, more so than many of the 2013s, and it can take considerable chilling. 13.5% alc. $17.99. 14Jan2015.
Medium gold coloured with a bouquet that is warm, rich, bold and creamy with smoky cedar and grilled peach - these traits all carrying through to the flamboyantly oaky palate. The finish is full and long savoury leesy characters, ripe juicy peach and smoky bacon. There is no doubt to the variety of this wine, and early evening wine that many chardonnay lovers will find hard to resist. 13.5% alc. $17.99. 13May2015.

Delegat Crownthorpe Terraces Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold. Toasty oak, shea butter and grilled peaches fill the bouquet and the taste is bold, buttery, nutty, toasty, spicy and oaky with a powerful zesty vibrancy and juicy stonefruit and tropical fruit fleshing out the long tasty finish Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 13Apr2016.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Moderate gold in hue. Nutty marzipan-like notes and hints of dried peach fill the bouquet. The taste is a little reductive and flinty to start but fills out as it flows with white melon and a slightly buttery nuance to the expansive finish that hints of the wine’s power. ‘Elegant’ is what many people around me said. I think this wild yeast fermented style without malo and 11 months in oak is a little closed at the moment and will benefit from decanting and only the lightest of chilling. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 13Jul2016.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) The toasty oatmeal and vanilla-poached peach on the nose is inviting in this bright fresh wine that initially seems like it has a forest of spicy oak and fruit in the apricot spectrum. It rounds out quite nicely as the flavours linger, the oak integrating nicely and the flavours lingering with a soft, easy feel. Fabulously priced and it can take plenty of chilling. 13.5% alc. $15.99. 18Nov2015.
Light gold. Peach on the nose with polished nutty oak. Warm and creamy in the mouth with again a nutty polished veneer, an underlying mealy savouriness, a beautifully balanced peach fruitiness and a zesty burst to the finish that’s actually quite earthy from indigenous yeasts used in fermentation. There’s pleasing hint of butterscotch on the finish of this dry, nutty savoury style, then again fruit that’s reminiscent of melon, citrus and stonefruit comes forth on the lingering aftertaste. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 19Feb2016.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Glossy lemon gold with a beautifully inviting bouquet of toasted brioche together with whispers of butterscotch and a smoky, funky, struck match fascination. In the mouth it’s luxurious, silky and textural with creamy mealy leesy characters, sweet smoky oak, melon and tropical fruit, and funky sulphides that add an exciting intrigue and complexity. The finish is mouthfilling and long with toasty oak coming to the fore as the flavours linger. Simply superlicious. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 11Nov2015.
This immediately presses Chardonnay lovers’ buttons with its big, bold, toasted brioche aroma and full-bodied, mouthfilling, savoury flavours with sweet smoky oak and reductive gunflinty notes that add to the complexity rather than detract. With touches of grapefruit, hints of butterscotch and a long, seamless, mealy, creamy finish it’s definitely hard to resist. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 23Mar2016.

Fat and Sassy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Lemon biscuits on the nose and hints of vanilla in the palate with creamy spicy oak, a focussed seam of citrus, toasty mealy notes and a burst of fleshy peach on the finish. A little more restrained than you would expect from the name of the wine, but lots to like nevertheless. Made by Tony Bish, chief winemaker at Sacred Hill, but this is his own label. 14% alc. $19.99. 23Mar2016.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold in hue with a gorgeous caramel cream, spice and biscuity oak aroma and a crème brulee and yummy fleshy peach lusciousness beautifully balanced by underlying citrussy notes and the long, toasty, savoury finish. Chilled for about 30 to 45 minutes before tasting, this deliciously juicy and super seamless wine hit the spot immediately. 13% alc. $19.99 . 6Jan2016.
From the revered Clayvin Vineyard that Giesen purchased in 2014, this is lustrous glossy gold in hue. Peach and toasty mellow savoury oak fill the bouquet and it's zesty, spicy and savoury in the palate where there is some funky wild yeast action going on. Layers of honeyed oak and salted caramel infuse the stonefruit and citrus flavours and the wine is complete in the mouth with richness and texture to the creamy finish. 13% alc. $19.99. 29Jun2016.
Grapefruit and butter caramel fill the honey-coated bouquet with concentrated savoury nuances wafting through. An approachable, mouthfilling and very appealing style with hints of malt, toasty oak, a creamy flow, a beautifully balanced savouriness, a flinty undercurrent, and a rich, powerful, reasonably dry finish. Very juicy and very tasty with roasted stonefruit and hints of baked caramelised lemon lingering. Cuisine 5 stars. 13% alc. 19.99 17Aug2016.

Giesen Single Vineyard The Fuder Clayvin Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) This is a big, gold, bold smelling wine with caramel-coated yeasty funk filling the bouquet and while it seems acid driven in the palate with is abundant grapefruit and citrus flavours the deep, rich sweetly smoked meaty savoury undercurrent makes it mouthfilling and complex. Hints of stonefruit emerge and while there is a flinty, earthy, dry gravelly note to the lingering finish the overall impression is creamy and long. Cuisine 5 stars. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 17Aug2016.

Giesen Vineyard Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold. Delicate nuances of sizzled butter and lemon biscuit on the bouquet. A little smoky in the fine-textured palate with nutty savoury oak, a touch of spice, a zing of citrus, hints of white peach and a dry finish. Not too powerful and great scene setter for the evening’s tasting. 12.5% alc. $14.99. 2Mar2016.

Gunn Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Lustrous citrine hue. Lovely fragrance of nectarine and peach with a hint of mandarin and a nutty, creamy richness. Mealy in the palate - mealy and creamy with quite a bit of malo influence in there it seems. There's a citrus brightness to the savoury biscuity undercurrent and spike of pineapple on the fresh, lively finish. 13.5% alc. $0.00. 9May2015.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels 'Wild Grace' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) The creamy, mealy bouquet of this wine is simply gorgeous and it has a lovely, rich, full-bodied palate full of beautifully honed toasty oak, melon and fleshy tropical fruit cream with the smoky/woodsmoke nuances in the wine quite mesmerising. Utterly seamless as it traverses the palate and the lingering deliciousness has suggestions of grilled peach and hokey pokey. Top pick and hard to resist. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 18Nov2015.
A moderate gold colour. Creamy and mealy on the nose with touches of stonefruit. Full, mealy, yeasty and textural in the palate with a savoury earthy depth, sweet nutty oak to the fore and grilled stonefruit joining in on the fleshy finish. A powerful wine yet elegant at the same time. From Corner 50 and the cooler inland Crownthorpe area. 13.5% alc. $22.99. 31Aug2016.

Kumeu River Hand Harvested Village Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light lemon gold. Creamed nut aromatics and soft lemon notes fill the bouquet. A crisp flinty style with a lemon bread richness and a lime zest brightness with whispers of nutty oak, a fragrant mushroom-like wild yeast intrigue and a fresh full finish. Terrific with seafood especially garlic and lemon prawns, and scallops wrapped in bacon at lunchtime. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 20Aug2015.
Light lemon gold. Crisp, bright on the bouquet with lemon bread and lime zest, that carries through to the palate of this fresh flinty style that finishes full-bodied and textural with whispers of sweet nutty oak while sustaining freshness and crispness all the way through. A very exciting dinner match to chicken fillets marinated in yoghurt with ground coriander, cumin and cinnamon spices then pan-fried. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 20Aug2015.
This light lemon gold drop has quite a fresh, citrussy bouquet with a subtle nutty oak allure. A super fresh, bright, citrussy tasting wine with lemon/lime and grapefruit radiating through the palate and rounding out with a nutty creaminess, yoghurt-like malo influences and fleshy peach. The savoury oak is much bolder in the palate than the bouquet suggests. A beautifully elegant Burgundian style of chardonnay that is best served at cool room temperature. FG. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 26Aug2015.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) There's a nougat-like creaminess to the fruity bouquet and the upfront taste is all juicy apples and pears with the most intriguing passionfruit tropicality then a savouriness comes to the fore on the zesty finish with a subtle suggestion of caramel cream. A very light, bright, fresh, conversation starter with not a skerrick of oak 13.5% alc. $19.99. 26Aug2015.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Delicately malty and leesy on the nose then later honeyed oak, hints of vanilla, almond meal and nougat. Nutty and savoury in the palate, seemingly a little tight and reductive at first but as the chill from its time in the refrigerator subsides this opens up to reveal tropical fruit, spicy oak, a citrussy zing and a creamy finish. 14% alc. $23.99. 23Mar2016.

Leveret Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Golden in hue with toasty oak and grilled peach filling the bouquet and loads of toasty citrus flavours that provide a very firm acid spine. Medium to full-bodied with a mealy richness building up and a long creamy finish emerging after a while. 13.5% alc. $15.99. 2Nov2016.

Lochiel Estate Mangawhai Chardonnay 2014 (sc) The bouquet is initially quite restrained with delicate hints of pear and tropical fruit but soon there’s a buttery layer with oatmeal biscuits, custard and cream. Still young, flinty and a little tight with light chilling on the night, but with gentle coaxing the taste becomes full, rich, rounded and creamy with a lovely malty toasty richness, touches of tropical fruit and mango and a bright zesty citrus flourish to the nutty oak finish. 14% alc. $20.99. 16Sep2015.
A bold flamboyant bouquet introduces this full-bodied style and the taste is lemony, leesy, powerful and intense with toasty cedary oak and touches of tropical fruit and stonefruit. Fattening up nicely as the chill subsides to become a big chewy mouthfilling wine with an incredibly long finish. 14% alc. $20.99. 23Mar2016.

Main Divide Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2014 (sc) A bold mouthfilling chardonnay with a deep colour; a rich, mealy, savoury aroma accented with funky wild yeast and a fresh bright taste with zingy notes of grapefruit alongside lemon sherbet – they subside while not going away to let a soft, mealy butter caramel richness come through. Yet it is characterised by a sometimes controversial reductive character with coconut sugared peach highlights to the funky, earth savoury finish. 13.5% alc. $20.99. 27Aug2015.

Man o War Valhalla Chardonnay 2014 – Waiheke Island (sc) Lemon gold in hue and very mealy, nutty and savoury on the nose with vanilla biscuit / malt biscuit complexities. Bold and mouthfilling to the taste with spicy oak, vanilla and butterscotch weaving through the rich, sweet, peach and tropical fruit with grilled apricots coming forth on the juicy finish and again those savoury biscuity flavours that offset the fruit beautifully. Firm in structure with well balanced underlying acidity, it's a fulfilling wine with flavour and presence. 14% alc. $33.99. 17Feb2016.

Marisco The Kings Bastard Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light yellow gold. Creamy malty bouquet with a whisper of butterscotch. Rounded and creamy in the palate with a spicy oak richness, a mealy undercurrent, hints of nectarine and a citrussy edge to the finish. 14% alc. $18.99. 20May2015.

Marsden Estate Black Rocks Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light to medium gold, quite lustrous in appearance. Bold and creamy on the nose with toasty oak, tropical fruit and peach filling the palate and layers of caramel building up on the long, juicy finish. Another cracker from Rod McIvor, no need to say more! 13.5% alc. $32.99. 27May2015.
Yellow gold hued with a spicy vanillin oak bouquet and full of savoury mealy flavours, this is more of a juicy, fleshy peaches and nectarines style with a malty undercurrent that is seamless and honed. Developing nicely, it has a lovely full, rich, rounded finish with mouthfilling length – the stonefruit and yellow fruit notes really shine through. 13.5% alc. $32.99. 2Sep2015.

Matua Lands & Legends Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 This nutty, creamy smelling wine is light yellow gold in hue with additional scents of grilled peaches, spicy oak and a slightly funky mealy veneer. “Sulphides,” says Nikolai, explaining it is recently bottled. The funky, mealy flavours expand deliciously in the palate with a smoky barrel ferment complexity. The texture is creamy with well-balanced lemon-like acidity supporting the predominantly stonefruit flavours and a long, fine, nutty oak finish. A little flinty and dry right now but has all the x-factor markers. Look forward to seeing this wine evolve during the year. 14% alc. $19.99. 15Apr2015.
As soon as I smell this wine I know it will seduce First Glass style chardonnay lovers. Grapefruit joins sweet smoky oak on the nose and the palate is full and fleshy from the get-go with abundant citrus, lovely caramel notes, chewed pencil oak and a crisp, fresh, finish with mealy notes to the fore on the lingering aftertaste. Very satisfying. 14% alc. $19.99. 26Aug2015.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) The bouquet is quite steely and flinty with crisp apples coming to mind. The apple character continues into the taste but more like spicy baked apples with a light touch of savoury oak, a full mid palate and youthful vibrancy to the tropical fruit salad finish that’s tinged with a touch of crème brulee. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 26Aug2015.

Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (D) This glossy light golden-hued wine has the most besottingly attractive toasty aroma with hints of butterscotch and grilled peach and the savoury barrel ferment oak and creamy yeast lees flavours braided with grilled peach and nectarine are simply enticing. It’s a serious mouthfilling chardonnay with a lovely spicy lift to the seamless finish and fabulous length. My kind of wine!! 13.5% alc. $35.99. 9Dec2015.

Muddy Water Deliverance Chardonnay 2014 – Waipara (sc) Quite gold in the glass with the bouquet abounding with stonefruit – apricots initially spring to mind. The ultra juicy fruit perception of this soft acid wine continues in the palate with something reminiscent of pink bubblegum then burnt butter and creamy mealy layers and a firm dry savoury spicy finish. It's been fermented with wild yeasts and matured in large seasoned oak barrels but is more fruity than oaky to the taste. 13% alc. $20.99. 17Feb2016.

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2014 – Nelson (sc) Light yellow gold. The expansive bouquet is so inviting as scents of polished French oak, nuts and honey grilled nectarines tantalise the senses, then classy nutty, savoury, polished oak is an upfront feature in the palate that becomes more and more toasty as the wine is savoured. A beautifully honed and rounded Chardonnay with delicious mealy intensity, succulent stonefruit juiciness and racy grapefruit intensity, it’s tempting to drink already but this superb dry white has the cachet to develop in the cellar for ten years or more. 14% alc. $71.99.15Oct2015.

Rapaura Springs Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold in hue with quite a soft creamy, nutty bouquet that has a zing of mandarin and hints of autumn fruit. Melon, apricot and tropical fruit fill the warm, soft, textural palate that has a mealy savoury undercurrent and a zesty zippy bright aromatic finish. The oak is so well integrated it adds to the textural complexity rather than the taste. 13% alc. $11.99. 13May2015.

Richmond Plains Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold. A little powdery / dusty smelling at first then the bouquet is apple sherbet and stonefruit tinged with vanilla. This is a very dry, flinty, young, fresh style with seemingly little influence of oak at first but vanillin oak flavours build on the back palate and the wine compounds in richness with flavours that remind of apricots and custard - yet the wine is never sweet - it remains austere, steely and dry. It would benefit from more time. Nevertheless a very good match to salt-cured ham steaks. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 28May2015.

Sacred Hill HALO Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Medium gold. Rich peach bouquet infused with tropical fruit and gentle notes of toasted oats then in the palate there's polished oak, hints of caramel, mealy notes and fleshy grilled peach with touches of melon and pineapple. Full and creamy with a rounded mouthfeel and a zesty vibrancy to the finish. Terrific as an aperitif with cheese on buttered crackers, then, with dinner, stir fry minted lamb steak with steamed white rice added to suck up the juices – the wine match an unexpected delight. Things you don’t plan are sometimes the best. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 14May2015.

Sacred Hill Orange Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) This has a star-like brightness to the light gold hue. Grilled peach on the nose follows through to the palate. Wow, so opulent already - it is creamy with layers of butterscotch and caramel. Very smooth with peach and nectarine underpinned with a touch of citrus. A ripe, ready-to-drink-right-now kind of wine. Very good with chicken.
Second note: Creamy oak and grilled peach on the nose, a little spicy and zesty in the palate with fresh tropical fruit flavours you associate with a young wine. With its layers of butterscotch and caramel and a touch of citrus on the creamed nut finish, it is approachable already. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 15Feb2015.

Sacred Hill Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Lustrous light gold in hue. The soft mealy aroma with nutty oak and stonefruit has a subtle smoky aura and the palate is soft and creamy with nutty oak in harmony together with touches of nectarine and a spicy zesty flourish to the savoury mealy finish. A seamless wine with warmth and richness, not overly oaky, and as the nectarine flavour builds up it is joined by tangelo with a touch of tropical fruit. Our conclusion. Yum! Matched to leftover sausages with vegetables in cheese sauce, this was a very good match. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 21May2015.

Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light lemon gold in hue with a cedary bouquet that’s lifted by the wafting scent of grilled pineapple, and smooth in the palate with lemon butter and lots of mealy, yeasty, baguette / pineapple notes, this is a very elegant style with spicy oak accents, touches of creamed macadamias and a beautifully balanced savoury depth. Still quite tight with a flinty undercurrent at this stage of its life, this legendary label will continue to evolve in the cellar. 13.5% alc. $69.99. 2Sep2015.
This is medium gold in hue with a beautifully polished oak bouquet that also hints of stonefruit and caramel. It’s full-bodied, rounded, fleshy and juicy in the palate with malt nuances and savoury mealy undertones infusing the stonefruit and polished oak flavours and a flourish of zest lifting the spicy oak finish. A mouthfilling wine with powerful flavours that linger for ages. 13.5% alc. $69.99. 6Apr2016.

Sacred Hill Wine Thief Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Quite a saturated lemon lustre to the hue. The bouquet is immediately inviting with its sweet, nutty, creamy, mealy aura and the hint of peach that comes to the fore in the palate – juicy, fleshy peach with a hum of apricot acidity and a beautifully integrated biscuity oak backbone. Full-bodied in an elegant way with a seamless flow and a lingering mealy richness. A class act and just delicious. 13.5% alc. $34.99. 22Aug2016.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold with a sweet scented woodsmoke bouquet and bold, malty, lemony, leesy flavours with integrated smoky vanillin oak in harmony with fruit that is reminiscent of grilled apricot, nectarine and tropical fruit. Finely elegant in its texture with a juicy fruit finish and a kick of acidity to remind us of its youth, this is a serious Chardonnay with a fabulously long finish and best accompanied with food. Chill no more than an hour before serving. 13% alc. $30.99 . 6Jan2016.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 Twin Valleys Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold with a creamed nut bouquet and creamy in the palate with hazelnuts, lemon, dried pineapple, spicy oak and all the markers of malolactic fermentation. Tonight it presents as crisp and dry and while it seems quite tight as it traverses the palate the lingering aftertaste reveals chardonnay beauty and generosity. A wine that doesn’t want to be served too chilled. 13% alc. $24.99. 6Apr2016.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 (sc) The bouquet is creamy with very desirable smoky nuances and the taste seems juicy and forward with honeyed oak, nectarine and tropical fruit and a creamy flow yet there is a Burgundian-like restraint to the mid palate of the wine with its flinty, nutty, savoury, smoky undertones and lemonade fruit providing well-balanced acidity, then broadening out again on the finish with hints of just-ripe crisp white peach and vanilla custard coming through nicely. Drinking beautifully now but plenty of life ahead of it. Cuisine 5 stars. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 17Aug2016.

Saint Clair Premium Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light lemon gold with a bouquet that offers up a delicate scent of vanilla poached pear that don’t foretell of the much bolder bright and fresh flavours crammed with tropical fruit salad, mandarin, juicy stonefruit and a lingering butter caramel mouthfeel. Not much influence of oak yet lots to like in this tasty wine that evolves with every sip. 13% alc. $13.99 . 3Feb2016.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Glossy lemon gold with a sweet nutty creamy bouquet infused with toasty Chardonnay allure. Fresh crunchy bright acidity dominates first up in the palate but as the youthful surge subsides the wine becomes rich, mealy and savoury with plenty of oomph and lingering flavours of apricot and cream. 14% alc. $14.99. 8Jul2015.

Seresin Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold in hue with smoky, gunflint characters driving the bouquet and mealy, savoury, smoky, flinty and lemony malo nuances filling the palate – not overly fruity and seemingly quite lean and tight to start, I’m thinking it’s from Burgundy so a surprise to find out it’s from Marlborough although the vibrancy should be a clue. The finish is harmoniously cedary and the subtle aftertaste lingers deliciously. 13.5% alc. $40.99. 23Mar2016.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Delicately creamy on the nose and then in the mouth it's soft, mealy and creamy with a touch of malt, honeyed oak and toffee cut by crisp citrus notes and a flourish of spice. Smooth and seamless in its flow with a long creamy finish where toasty oak, that seemed more subtle at first, comes to the fore as the aftertaste lingers. 14% alc. $24.99. 23Mar2016.

Sileni Satyr Kereru Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) There's an appealing savouriness infusing the creamy oak bouquet with a hint of orange zest coaxed out with deep inhaling and that zesty nuance becomes noticeable in the palate that seems at first to have accrued a mellow aura yet is bold and mouthfilling with spicy oak and a zesty zing and a terrifically long, toasty finish with a harmonious rounded mouthfeel. 14% alc. $24.99. 16Nov2016.

Spinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Fruity creamy aromas and fruit forward in the palate, nicely balanced with some mealy leesy characters - more complex than the nose would suggest even though it seems like there is very little oak,. Smooth and seamless flowing with a butterscotch coating and a burst of stonefruit sweetness at the end., 14% alc. $17. 21Nov2015.

Spencer Hill Tres Elegant Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (c) Golden hued with a bold nutty aroma and a big, fat, oily palate with fleshy stonefruit and caramel-coated buttery oak that imparts such a smooth creamy mouthfeel and flow, then a burst of grapefruit that lifts the wine and extends the finish. Right now it needs a big glass to open up in, as it got better and better as the tasting progressed. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 2Dec2015.
Light to moderate gold with a glossy sheen. Toasty on the nose with hints of citrus, stonefruit and melon then full-bodied, toasty, malty and savoury to the taste with juicy peach, youthful bubblegum-like esters and spikes of citrus zest giving side-of-the-tongue tingles. A dry wine with a long savoury finish, it definitely lifts up to its elegant name and could take more than the light chilling it had for this tasting. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 20Jan2016.

Te Awa Left Field Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Lustrous citrine hue with a sunshine glimmer. Sweet fruited aromas of tropical fruit and melon, and later hints of nougat and cream. The taste is fruity with a zesty / spicy aura and a nutty creamy undercurrent with touches of nougat that are enchanting. Lightly oaked, it is the vibrant fruitiness that wins out on the day. 13% alc. $17.99. 9May2015.

Te Awanga Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold in hue with a butter caramel scent – it smells rich but is surprisingly on the medium side of full-bodied when you taste it and the smooth, seamless mouthfeel and flow makes it deceptively easy to drink. Fermented in barrel with wild yeasts, and with full malo imparting creaminess, the flavours are toasty and peachy with savoury French oak humming along in harmony and a fantastically long finish with peach and mealy notes lingering deliciously. Light chilling is all that is needed. 13% alc. $18.99. 20Jan2016.

Te Mania Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light lemon gold. Inviting sweet biscuity bouquet with a touch of peach and melon and a dusting of nutmeg. Smooth in the palate with juicy oak that's integrated and savoury, a creamed nut richness and the wonderful fruit profile of peaches, etc. that came on the nose and a flinty dryness to the finish. Really good acidity without being intrusive, it lifts the wine beautifully. I like this. Excellent with egg salad. 12.5% alc. $21.99. 14Feb2015.

Te Mata Elston Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) This light gold hued wine has a rich, proud bouquet and it's powerful in the palate with toasty oak, hints of butterscotch, a touch of grapefruit and a smooth, seamless, flow. A little tight on the finish that reaffirms this wine is young and has a long way to go. Nevertheless it seems a little more forward at this stage of its life Elstons have been in the recent past. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 2Mar2016.

The Landing Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Creamy lemon gold with a bouquet of toasted hazelnuts and a malt biscuit richness that is just so tantalising, and so smooth and creamy as it flows across the palate with peach, melon and tropical fruit infused with butterscotch cream, beautifully balanced savoury oak and a touch of pineapple brightness to the seamless finish. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 2Sep2015.
This little beauty has a medium gold hue. It’s quite savoury and mealy both on the nose and in the mouth with the melon-like fruit quite subtle in the glass tonight. Seamless and smooth in its flow with a touch of zest loitering in the background making it quite brooding in a way and hinting it will progress in the cellar for a while if you can resist the temptation to drink it right now. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 9Dec2015.

Theory and Practice Gisborne Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Medium gold with an oily appearance. Savoury on the nose but all buttered oak and caramel in the palate with a smooth flow, orange zest accents adding brightness, a touch of spicy oak and a subtle funky mealiness imparting a savoury inflection. Made by Ant McKenzie, this is a different style to his similarly labelled Hawkes Bay wine. 13.5% alc. $18.99 . 3Feb2016.

Theory & Practice Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) In the glass the wine has a moderate gold hue. A bouquet of fragrant nutty oak leads into a bright, full-bodied, savoury palate with fleshy stonefruit to the fore. It’s vibrant and zesty with a very appealing rounded mouthfeel, lemony / leesy notes, a hazelnut complexity, spicy cedary oak – a little chilling enhances the toasty aura – and the long, dry, lingering finish has touches of grapefruit. Ant McKenzie’s own label with fruit sourced from the Cape Kidnappers area. 14% alc. $24.99. 7Oct2015.

Thornbury Gisborne Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Straw gold with gentle aromatics of white autumn fruit and soft and textural in the palate, almost creamy in its flow, with crisp, clean fruit, a nutty concentration and a bright spicy aura. The fruit is reminiscent of citrus, melon, baked apple and vanilla poached pear and the oak is barely detectable, adding more to the texture rather than the taste. If you like pinot gris, you will love this lighter styled Chardonnay that offers just that little bit more. 13.5% alc. $12.99. 25Mar2015.

Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Glossy light gold. Light creamy, mealy and nutty with subtle tropical fruit nuances on the nose. The oak in this wine is deceptive - nutty oak , light tropical fruit, good line and flow and a soft mealy finish. Later a touch of butterscotch comes to mind. Light easy drinking. Terrific socialising wine. 13% alc. $21.95. 29Feb2016.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2014 (sc) There's a sunshine glint to the colour and then, wow, the grapefruit aromas just pop together with a funky wild yeast / struck match complexity. The flavours have a grapefruit zing with an underlying mealy richness and savoury oak that expands beautifully and fills the palate with pleasure leaving behind a juicy peach intensity. Hand picked, whole bunch pressed with fermentation and maturation in 500 puncheons (35-40% new) for at least a year. Exciting. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 18May2016.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (white label) (sc) Light gold with peach, citrus and hazelnut aromas and full of flavour in the medium-bodied palate that has a creamy feel, a nutty richness and a zesty brightness to the finish. There's minimal amount of oak used in the crafting of this wine but good crisp acidity and masses of flavour. Fantastic social sipper or seafood wine. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 18May2016.

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Struck match on the nose subsides to reveal rather appealing mealy, malty scents. A super bold style of wine with all the bells and whistles – it's got butter caramel, malt, spice, stonefruit and citrus with tingling youthful acidity. It’s concentrated and mouthfilling with a seamless flow, finishing with a wine biscuit complexity and a flinty savouriness lingering. Cuisine 5 stars. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 17Aug2016.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Rich glossy citrine in the glass. The bouquet is creamy and mealy with wafts of smoky oak and hints of cedar. Bold and seemingly luscious as the wine traverses the palate - it's beautifully smooth, rounded and already seamless in it flow with flavours of roasted hazelnuts and fresh and grilled Golden Queen peaches with spicy oak completing the picture. Seems irresistible already but will be even better with a little more oak integration. 13% alc. $19.99. 28May2015.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) A stonefruit sweetness infuses the smoky oak bouquet of this light gold wine and the oak seems even smokier in the fresh, youthful palate where the flavours of butterscotch, grilled stonefruit, bubblegum, grapefruit and roasted hazelnuts come in waves. Fantastic value from the Bay. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 25Feb2015.
Influences of mealy yeast characters enhance the peach and tropical fruit bouquet that has a funky, savoury, chewy caramel, creamy aura and the smooth, rounded taste is crammed with grilled peach, roasted nuts and a long, smoky finish with a citrussy freshness as the mouthfilling deliciousness lingers. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 26Aug2015.
A little shy on the nose then crisp and fresh in the palate, I’m thinking at first it’s quite like Chablis but then savoury oak forges its way through. It seemed a little lean at first because it was over-chilled when served, but it starts to fatten out and flow softly across the palate with honeyed oak and hints of nectarines. 13.5% alc. $14.99. 23Mar2016.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light lustrous gold. Crème caramel and sweet smoky barrel ferment nuances fill the bouquet and it's full-bodied and creamy to the taste with upfront smoky toasty oak, a touch of gunflint, bright citrus and fleshy stonefruit, and a long, mouthfilling, savoury, mealy finish that expands just beautifully as the wine traverses the palate and lingers harmoniously. Supreme Champion at the 2016 Royal Easter Wine Show. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 9Mar2016.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Spicy cedar and citrus zest fill the bouquet and the texture is seductively creamy and smooth. Deliciously savoury, malty and mouthfilling with hints of butterscotch, a roasted nut richness and a spicy oak complexity, this classy wine has a tingly deliciousness and wild yeast mystique. Taking chardonnay to another level, many thought it the wine of the night at this stage of the tasting. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 26Aug2015.
This lustrous light gold wine is heady from the outset with the bouquet offering up a tantalising toasty savoury complexity immediately. In the mouth the taste is spicy and savoury with juicy white peach, nectarine and tree-ripened apricot and toasty barrel ferment and wild yeast flavours in harmony. The fruit sweetness wells up as the flavours linger with tinges of citrus and melon. A complex multi-layered chardonnay with fruit, flint and savoury notes interweaving beautifully. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 11Nov2015.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylor’s Pass Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light citrine gold. The bouquet is quite simply charismatic tonight with delightful scents of nougat, tropical fruit and mealy French oak and the expansive flavours in the palate are exquisite and the oak quite toasty with light chilling. Powerful yet elegant with a warm rounded mouthfeel and flavours of white peach, citrus, apricot and nutty mealy notes with a spicy flourish to the finish and impeccable balance and length. It’s stunning already but has the complexity to benefit even more with cellaring. 14% alc. $29.99 30Sep2015.
Light gold in hue with a bouquet brimming with toasty, mealy, barrel ferment aromatics that are overlain with a beautiful savoury allure. Lifted in the mouth with bright acidity infusing the wine’s malty mealy characters and the fruit hinting of nectarine and toasted lime, it’s deliciously rich, complex and mouthfilling yet has an elegant disposition with its beautiful fine lines. This will evolve beautifully in the cellar over the next few years – if you can wait that long. 14% alc. $29.99. 11Nov2015.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2014 (sc) Light gold in colour with a lightly fruity and delicate oak bouquet then flavours of lightly honeyed oak in the creamy palate with a touch of hokey pokey and caramel that's balanced by the bright, fresh, tingly acidity and a savoury aftertaste.. 13.5% alc. $23.00. 21Nov2015.

West Brook Barrique Ferment Chardonnay 2014 (sc) A richly aromatic, light golden coloured Chardonnay with a toasty oak and fruity apricot bouquet and a bold outspoken taste with toasty / nutty /creamy / spicy oak flavours alongside juicy melon and stonefruit with touches of butterscotch and caramel and then apple and citrus on the long dry finish. 13.1% alc. $19.99. 11Mar2015.
Light gold hued with a delicate crème caramel bouquet then spicy and bright in the palate with a toasty oak richness and juicy grilled peach with lingering nuances of tropical fruit on the dry nutty finish. A blend of Marlborough and Waimauku fruit that makes for fabulous social drinking. We loved it. 13.2% alc. $19.99. 17Feb2016.

West Brook Waimauku Chardonnay 2014 (sc) This light gold wine is a completely different style to the Whitehaven, probably because it comes from Auckland not Marlborough. A little heady on the nose, yet restrained in its subtle mealy and nougat scent, it’s a wine of style and finesse with layers of nutty oak, touches of oatmeal, nougat, white peach and green melon, and a subtle tingle of orange sherbet at the end. Not overly bold but has a compelling finish with excellent length. Gold Easter Show. 13.2% alc. $27.99. 24Feb2016.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (sc) There’s a touch of gunflint to the nutty, malo-influenced bouquet that also offers up hints of tropical fruit and crème brulee and it’s spicy and zesty in the palate that seems quite steely to start with a nutty savoury oak backbone but the tropical fruit comes to the fore and the wine intensifies beautifully with a really lovely lifted lemon cream finish that is long and fulfilling. 14% alc. $19.99. 18Nov2015.
Light green-tinged gold with a tropical fruit bouquet that has a halo of butterscotch. Oaky and buttery in the smooth, seamless palate – it slips down easily leaving gorgeous flavours of baked peaches and cream with a touch of malt and a beautifully refined citrus zing. Developing beautifully since tasted in November and served very chilled as it was on the night it was perfect for such a warm balmy evening. Gold Easter Show. Gold AirNZ. Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. $19.99. 24Feb2016.

2013 Vintage [top] [index]

Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Fruity aroma with an appealing mealy infusion. Citrus infuses the fleshy stonefruit and butter caramel flavours of this soft creamy wine. It has a lovely smoky savoury backbone and a spicy brightness to the finish. An easy pleaser. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
Light gold. Butterscotch and stonefruit fill the bouquet and the super smooth taste is like liquid caramel creams (think Werther's Originals). A spicy brightness joins toasty oak and fleshy stonefruit flavours and there's a touch of citrus on the long, lifted finish. A new vintage with a new winemaker, the skills of Ant McKenzie were employed for this dangerously drinkable wine. 14% alc. $25.99. 8Oct2014.

Brancott Estate Letter Series 'O' Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. Creamy caramel aroma then in the palate it is spicy and zesty on entry to the palate with creamy caramel oak, tropical fruit, stonefruit, well-balanced underlying mealy notes and citrus brightness to the smooth creamy mouthfilling finish. Long, rich, nutty and dry with savoury oak lingering. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
This light gold charmer is instantly appealing with its bouquet of toasty oak, nuts, grilled pineapple and grilled peach and the taste is rich, dry, full-bodied and biscuity. The classy French oak imparts beautifully honed savouriness that balances the succulent juicy fruits, and there is a zingy citrus brightness to the mouth-filling finish. 14% alc. $19.99. 10Dec2014.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Moderate citrine gold. The overtly fruity bouquet emanates aromas of melon, dried banana chips and honeyed oak and there is an abundance of toasty oak and caramel flavours in the palate – an excellent foil to the juicy fruit – as is the bright touch of zest to the rich, rounded, creamy and persistent finish. 13.1% alc. $19.99. 23Jul2014.
The bouquet is full and mealy and the taste is smooth and creamy with a tropical fruit brightness, a punch of citrus, nutty oak in behind and the lingering finish bringing nougat to mind. Really starting to hit its straps, it is delivering on the hype that the vintage promised to offer. 13.1% alc. $19.99. 3Sep2014.
Light gold. Stonefruit and melon in the palate with mealy complexities and nutty oak and a zesty brightness to the long smooth finish. 13.1% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
Light gold. Lightly creamy on the nose with sweet smoky oak and grilled peaches. Rich, rounded, ripe and creamy in the palate with stonefruit and melon, biscuit complexities, nutty oak and a zesty brightness to the long smooth finish where pleasing touches of butter caramel leave a lasting impression. Tasted several times at First Glass, it’s improving every time, so just how good is it going to get? 13.1% alc. $19.99. 1Oct2014.

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) The colour is rich gold and the bouquet is full of flint / struck match / reductive funky wild yeast with a delectable hint of peach and the flavours are bold in the smooth creamy palate with all the funks from the bouquet coming through. There's a lovely savoury, zesty, citrussy undercurrent to the bright peach and melon fruit; the beautifully honed acidity is lifted and bright, and there is a subtle salinity and seductive smokiness as the wine lingers deliciously. Love it. 14% alc. $31.99. 1Jun2016.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This big rich toasty Chardonnay is crammed with aromas and flavours of grilled peach, spicy oak, caramel and citrus with a mouthfilling finish that is quite superbly long. Lightly chilled for a summer night tasting, the temperature was perfect. Loved it. 14% alc. $19.99. 7Jan2015.
A mealy, lemon biscuit nuance to the lifted bouquet carries through to the palate that has a tantalising just-out-of the-oven baguette allure together with hints of lemon verbena, citrus, figs, nougat and fleshy stonefruit rounding out the spicy finish. A classy barrel fermented wine that’s smooth in its flow with a pleasing savoury depth and a wonderful acid spine. I really like this wine. 14% alc. $19.99. 25Feb2015.

Church Road Tom Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Rich, lustrous gold. The complex bouquet hints of a fruit sweetness yet has a smoky bacon intrigue together with grapefruit and the reductive characters of the wild yeast ferment. Full, rich, creamy and rounded with a caramel confectionary (think Werthers Originals) sweetness yet despite this sense of lusciousness the wine is delectably dry. Harmonious and seamless in its flow with a flinty undercurrent and expansive length leaving behind flavours of grapefruit, orange and mandarin with caramel and savoury complexities lingering until the next wine has to be tasted. 14.5% alc. $149. 1Jun2016.

Clearview Beachhead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Stonefruit aromas are quite a contrast to the spicy, nutty flavours. Initially quite linear and restrained with citrus and malt and a momentary tickle of ginger-like spritz, then stone fruit emerges and the finish is spicy and creamy with lingering butterscotch and caramel. 14.5% alc. $20.99. 2Jul2014.

Clearview Estate Vineyard Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (D) Medium gold. Citrus aromas infuse the smoky savoury oak, and it is full-bodied and mealy in the opulent palate. Spicy with grilled peach and spicy cedar and a clean vibrant zesty finish. Layers and complexity. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.

Clearview Hawkes Bay Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. A full creamy oak aroma with peaches and cream. Full-bodied and opulent in the palate with substance and flow. Peaches, melon, spicy oak, a decadent mealy undercurrent and a citrus brightness to the long creamy finish. Lots of oak presence that will integrate nicely with more time. 14.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
Light greeny gold. A full-bodied creamy oak aroma with peaches and cream and a lovely spicy nutty savouriness to the flavours with a decadent mealy undercurrent and a burst of grapefruit zestiness to the fresh, clean bright finish. Long, seamless and deliciously toasty. 14.5% alc. $32.99. 17Sep2014.
Lemon gold in hue with a malty richness to the perfumed grilled peach scent, this seems quite a fresh acid wine tamed a little by malolactic fermentation with juicy nectarine and fleshy peach radiating through. The savoury French oak is beautifully integrated yet asserts its toasty presence and the finish is dry and lingering. An excellent cellaring proposition as it could be very long lived. 14.5% alc. $32.99. 10Dec2014.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Moderate gold in hue. Nutty savoury scents fill the bouquet with fascinating funky wild yeast nuances in harmony. Noticeably dry in the palate with mealy, savoury, wild yeast flavours underpinning the fruit that's like stonefruit tending towards dried tropical fruits with a zing of citrus. The fruit is mellow and integrating nicely with the oak that seems a little more honeyed on the mouthfilling finish that oozes elegance and finesse with the nutty savoury mealy flavours lingering beautifully. 14% alc. $36.99. 10Aug2016.

Coopers Creek SV 'The Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Apple and roasted nuts on the nose and seemingly lightly oaked in the palate with creamy malo characters to the fore. Spicy on first tasting, becoming more powerful as the wine traverses the palate building to a bold finish with sweet oak lingering but the malo characters really do dominate in this youthful stage of its life. 14% alc. $17.99. 12Feb2014.
Sweet nutty oak and baking biscuit aromas introduce this soft, savoury, spicy style. Expanding nicely in the palate with well-integrated oak, stonefruit and a touch of citrus, it is one of the more approachable 2013s tasted so far and delivers plenty of satisfaction for the price. 14% alc. $17.99. 2Jul2014.

Crossroads Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Now we are getting to what most of us expect of main course Chardonnay. Toasty oak, grilled peaches, tropical fruit and zesty acidity combine in harmony in this richer style of wine that's laced with butter cream on the long rounded finish. There's a slight bubblegum nuance that indicates it could be of quite some youth. 14% alc. $15.99. 23Apr2014.

de la terre Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Bright yellow gold. Grilled nectarine and bold toasty oak on the nose. A real winemaker's wine with wild yeast and beautifully integrated French oak, bright fleshy fruit flavours and a lovely seam of citrus zest. Full-bodied, concentrated and long with a biscuity richness and stone fruit, melon and tropical fruit in harmony and while it seems quite developed already, there is oodles of chewy deliciousness here. The new label of former Church Rd winemaker, Tony Pritchard, from his vineyard in Taihape Road. Tony definitely knows what he is doing when it comes to Chardonnay. Classy wine. 14% alc. $36.99. 25Mar2015.

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2013 (c) Light lemon gold. Gosh, the aroma is just so tantalising – it’s citrussy and biscuity with a lovely mealy infusion to the sweet nutty oak with hints of grapefruit – just divine. Lemon//lime/grapefruit flavours fill the palate – so bright and fresh with lovely savoury biscuity notes, a touch of nectarine adding structure and flesh and nougat-like sweetness to the finish. Smooth, seamless, warm and mouthcoating with the funky savoury notes just sublime. With its great acid spine this should be an incredibly long-lived wine. 13.5% alc. $54. 19Dec2014.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Brilliant citrine under the incandescent light - gemmy and lustrous in appearance. Quite savoury on the nose with lifted oak and stonefruit notes. The savoury veneer continues in the taste with warm wheatmeal biscuits and nutty toasty oak, lots of grilled stone fruit and a spicy note to the polished finish. The wine is still too tight - too oaky for me. OK as an accompaniment to chicken thighs cooked with bacon pieces to add deliciousness - I liked the wine, chicken, bacon combo - best enjoyed with food at this stage of its life. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 16Mar2015.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) The bouquet is all honeyed oak, spices and caramel cream then gun smoke and mealy notes fill the palate before a beautifully honed seam of grapefruit simply oozes out and radiates through. It's creamy with a sublime caramel / butterscotch sweetness, funky wild yeast influences, a gorgeously rounded mouthfeel and a vibrantly spicy finish. Super wine. 14% alc. $27.99. 26Aug2015.

Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold in hue with an enticing aroma of tropical fruit and mango with a touch of orange blossom and mealy barrel ferment characters wafting through. Smooth in the palate, fruity, almost creamy, with nutty oak and mealy savoury notes emerging and becoming rather delicious as the flavours open up. A wine that needs a bit of encouragement right now - lots of swirling in a big glass (or decanting) and you won't be disappointed. Lovely wine. 14% alc. $39.99. 16Jul2014.

Framingham Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. Nutty mealy notes infuse the smoky aroma. The taste is of a flinty style of chardonnay with juicy freshness from the tropical fruit, stonefruit and citrus flavours together with peach leaf. Smooth and long with a spiced nut complexity and a smoky oak finish. Lifted acidity as the wine lingers. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.

Giesen The Fuder Single Vineyard Clayvin Chardonnay 2012 (sc) Yellow gold. Grapefruit and mealy barrel ferment scents, and spicy and zesty in the full-bodied palate with opulent hazelnut oak and complex mealy savoury characters. A powerful wine with an luxurious butterscotch caramel creaminess to the long powerful finish with a citrus brightness and flare. 14.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.

Gunn Estate Marlborough Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (sc) A medium bodied quaffer that goes down very easily on its own and gets you quickly into the food zone. The aroma radiates fleshy peach and nectarine aromas and the taste is incredibly juicy with a lovely creamy mealy nutty savouriness and nicely integrated lightly toasted oak that is not overpowering. 13.5% alc. $20. 2Apr2014.

Invivo Michelle's Central Otago Chardonnay 2013 (sc) The colour is light gold, the bold aromas are redolent of grapefruit and finely polished smoky savoury oak and the creamy flavours are quite lees-influenced giving the wine a very attractive savoury / mealy / nutty / biscuity aura with a fine acid spine that you find in top white Burgundies. A beautiful wine with great mouthfeel and flow and a harmonious touch of spice, I find it a little reminiscent of the Terra Sancta and further emphasises Central Otago should not be dismissed when it comes to elegant and potentially long-lived chardonnays. 14% alc. $28.99. 11Mar2015.
Light gold. Quite malty on the nose, a character that belies the upfront bright fruity taste that is all tropical fruit with melons and a touch of pineapple, yet there is a lovely savoury mealy richness and a funky gunsmoke character infusing the long lifted finish. Fruit from the Lowburn area. 14% alc. $28.99. 20May2015.

Jules Taylor Gisborne Chardonnay 2013 (c)
Quite a nutty savoury wine with a funky nuance to the bouquet and a delicate wild yeast mealy character from the partial wild ferment in barrel coming through in the taste. A fruity wine rather than an oaky wine, the oak is like an frame around a still life picture of nectarines, lemons, pineapple and grapes. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 21Jan2015.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Pale yellow gold with a striking bouquet of sweet oak, butter caramel and hints of spiced peach then finely honed buttery oak and nutmeg-like spices fill the palate, A rich creamy wine that has a well-balanced spicy, savoury undercurrent and a smooth, seamless flow with caramel and lemon/grapefruit nuances in harmony and a warm biscuity finish with oak flavours pushing through as the flavours linger. 14% alc. $23.99. 11Mar2015.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Pale green-tinged gold. Smoky toasty oak on the nose is embellished with grilled peach and nectarine. Seems quite Burgundian in style in the palate as it is the stunning crisp acidity that is the driver of this wine and will ensure that it will age. It’s mealy and biscuity with spicy barrel ferment flavours, a lovely leesy character from the mixture of wild and inoculated yeasts, and the gorgeous stonefruit on the nose comes forth again on the long dry, savoury finish. 14% alc. $22.99. 4Feb2015.

Leveret Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light yellow gold. Butter toffee and peach on the nose. Full bodied and concentrated in the palate with mellow buttery oak and juicy ripe grilled Golden queen peach flavours beautifully honed by grapefruit-like acidity that simply zings. Then a silky savouriness to the lingering aftertaste. Doesn’t need to be overly chilled and the bottle I tasted from was great! 13% alc. $22.99. 13Jan2016.
The bouquet of this yellow gold wine offers up mellow notes of butter caramel and savoury oak yet there's oodles of bright zingy acidity upfront in the palate with fleshy golden queen peaches, mealy notes and spicy toasty oak. The acidity tapers off and the finish is soft and juicy. 13% alc. $22.99. 16Mar2016.

Lochiel Estate Mangawhai Chardonnay 2013 (sc) There's a glossy lustre to the lemon gold hue, an evocative and very engaging nutty bouquet with a suggestion of butterscotch wafting through, then nougat, dried mango and mealy flavours fill the palate with creamy oak humming along harmoniously in the background and a lovely spicy flourish to the mouthfilling finish. Loved it. 14% alc. $19.99. 28Jan2015.

Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold coloured with an immediately appealing creamy nutty oak scent with subtle grapefruit filtering through. The grapefruit, however, is proud in the palate mingling with stonefruit, nuts and tantalising, nougat-like creaminess. An intriguing texture, it has grip yet it has seamless flow and the wild yeast nuances and savoury oak hold their ground on the long, full-bodied finish. A multi-vineyard blend. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 5Mar2014.

Main Divide Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Rich straw god in hue, this has leesy wild yeast characters dominating the aroma and although the scent is restrained the funky character is there. The taste is all oatmeal, apple and lemon with smoky oak in the background, it shows its youth with a momentary presence of pink bubblegum esters. Needs more time to let the reductive characters integrate. 14% alc. $19.95. 26Jan2015.

Man O' War Valhalla Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This is a grapefruit and nougat style of Chardonnay with leesy aromas and malt-like, nutty, funky wild yeast flavours that combine in harmony. It tastes serious and expensive, and it is! If you remember the deeply-coloured oaky Valhalla styles of the past you will find this elegant and restrained in comparison and the well-honed acid spine makes it an excellent wine to cellar for a while. 14.5% alc. $34.99. 7Jan2015.

Marisco The Kings Bastard Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. Youthful and estery with a bubble gum scent that carries through to the palate where tropical fruit abounds with melon and banana chips the highlights. The ripe fruit is foiled by a bright citrussy zing and caramel emerging as the wine lingers. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 20Aug2014.

Marsden Estate Bay of Islands Black Rocks Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This in comparison to the previous has more of everything so it is incredible to find it is a same vintage wine. Big, rich, golden and buttery with a delectable sizzled butter note to the smoky oak bouquet and toasted apricot-like fruit in the palate with a bright citrussy tang to the smooth, creamy finish with memories of salted caramel as the glorious flavours linger. A class act all the way through. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 11Jun2014.
Light gold. Smoky and savoury with an opulent oatmeal richness. Flavours of tropical fruit and melon with a bright citrus zing that's a perfect balancing foil to the rich mouthfilling creamy toasty oak finish with butter caramel notes coming through to linger. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
Light gold. Smoky and savoury with an opulent nougat and oatmeal richness to the impressive bouquet. Smooth, rounded and seamless with concentrated tropical fruit and melon with a bright citrus zing that's a perfect foil to the rich mouthfilling creamy toasty oak with lingering flavours of nougat and butter caramel. Absolutely delicious and hard to resist, a wine to enjoy right now and over the next two years. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 1Oct2014.

Matua Lands and Legends Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) A complex mealy smelling chardonnay briming with aromas of toasty oak and caramel cream and the taste is rich, ripe and savoury with spiced peaches and toasty oak flavours and a long creamy finish spiked with caramel cream. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
Light gold coloured with an inviting aroma brimming with toasty oak and caramel cream and smooth savoury, toasty oak flavours with both grilled and fresh stonefruits, a touch of spice, a creamy mealy undercurrent, a touch of citrus and a long full finish. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 17Sep2014.
Straw gold in hue with a smoky, slightly flinty, lemon-infused leesy aroma, this seems to be embellished with a funky character from the selection of wild yeast strains used in the fermentation. Fruit is in the citrus, pineapple and spiced pear spectrum and smoky cedar frames the savoury spicy background. Initially this seems like a tight lean wine but it opens up in the glass and has a rich expansive finish that is toasty and creamy. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 11Feb2015.

Matua Single Vineyard Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 Radiant light gold with full-on funky, leesy, nutty aromas from wild yeast ferment in the barrel. Luscious and decadently full in the palate with nuts and spice to the fore, it’s quite dry and a little salty maybe, with tropical fruit that has a texture like the firm flesh of mountain pawpaw and delectable peach nuances coming through. Expansive vinosity in the palate, finishing full and rounded with compounding complexity. Young and tight right now, it will deliver exceptional rewards with 3-4 years cellaring. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 15Apr2015.

Moana Park Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light to medium gold in hue with a rich, creamy oak bouquet and smooth rounded flavours with layers of grilled stonefruit, butterscotch and caramel cream and well balanced savoury oak and mealy notes on the lingering finish. I enjoyed this Vegetarian Society approved wine. 14% alc. $17.99. 22Oct2014.
The bouquet of this light yellow gold chardonnay is all caramel cream toffees and grilled peaches, and the taste is rich, creamy, spicy and warm with an ultra smooth, rounded flow. The flavours of toasty oak, ripe stonefruit and crème brulee hit the spot immediately and the finish lingers deliciously. It's a 'drink now' wine rather than one to cellar by the way. 14% alc. $16.99. 11Feb2015.

Milcrest Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light glossy gold with a bouquet of polished oak, grilled peach and fig. Quite toasty and initially just a little brassy in the palate with a burst of grapefruit providing plenty of acid bite, then well-balanced juicy tropical fruit, golden queens and fig round out all the edges and there’s a spicy flourish to the long full finish where a touch of toffee-like sweetness is very satisfying. By the third sip all remnants of toothpaste have been washed away and you think, my gosh, this wine is quite okay. 14% alc. $26.99. 8Apr2015.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Straw gold coloured and a polar opposite to the previous wine, it is lean and flinty in its youth. Partial malolactic fermentation tames some of the acidity but there's still a vibrant zesty buzz and a nougat-like creaminess to the finish. A wine from a great vintage and set to evolve in the cellar. Right now it will be a stylish accompaniment to seafood. 13% alc. $19.99 special 16Apr2014.

Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This medium light gold wine smells rather youthful with its nutty oak and lemon polish scent and while it initially seems quite light it morphs into a powerhouse of a wine. Savoury oak joins tropical fruit with enticing sizzled butter and a spicy almost zesty brightness to the long rich finish. 14% alc. $27.99. 3Dec2014.

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) The colour is medium gold with a lustrous sheen, the bouquet is smoky and creamy with touches of grilled peach and there is a nutty savoury richness to the mouthfilling taste. Quite flinty on the front palate but full and rounded on the back palate with grapefruit-like acidity adding zing and sweet smoky oak adding complexity. A textural wine with a slightly grainy feel mid palate yet the finish is long and creamy. 13.5% alc. $32.99. 10Jun2015.

Ngatarawa Proprietors Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) A light to moderate gold colour introduces with gorgeous buttery Chardonnay. The bouquet is full, rich and creamy with a toasty barrel-ferment aura and it's quite malty, mealy and savoury in the palate. Very oaky and intense at this stage of its life with grilled peach, citrus and bacon and a touch of butterscotch emerging on the long powerful finish. 14% alc. $34.00. 21Nov2015.

Obsidian Reserve Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. Nougat and cream on the nose. Spicy with savoury French oak a feature of the smooth creamy palate. Youthful with fresh zesty acidity underpinning the tropical fruit and a vibrant long finish with a pleasing savoury oak veneer. 14.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
This has a medium gold lustre to the glossy hue and is smoky and toasty on the nose with hints of grilled peach that's joined in the palate with citrus. A rich, rounded, full-bodied wine with a spicy oak brightness, an exciting mealy savouriness, lovely smooth edges and a powerful creamy finish with tantalising touches of nougat. 14.5% alc. $35.99. 5Nov2014.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2012 (sc) Golden, glinty and bright with a bouquet that initially radiates roasted cashews and macadamias - it’s creamy and savoury at the same time. Later caramel notes and citrus blossom, then much later funky leesy wild yeast aromas join in. You could say the bouquet is complex. This is Chardonnay after all. Rich flavours of fleshy apricots and golden queen are underpinned with tangelo and zesty tingles of grapefruit. It very ripe and concentrated, the stonefruit is juicy and sweet and there's a divine savoury, nutty, mealy, malty flavour interweaving through. Later caramel notes on the nose and citrus blossom. Later still, very leesy and reductive with all the funky wild yeast flavours making themselves known. A full-bodied, powerful style, needs food. .We matched to bacon (yum) with vegetables in a blue cheese sauce (yum). 13.5% alc. $38.00. 16May2015.

Sacred Hill HALO Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This straw gold wine smells fragrant and fruity with butterscotch overtones to the stonefruit and melon bouquet. A little more restrained than the Waimea at this early stage with slightly estery (bubblegum) notes infusing the nutty oak, a fine silky texture and a delicate butterscotch coating. It is drinking well now but patience will reward, as it will fatten up in the bottle with a little more time. In fact as it sits in the glass you can see the malty richness almost accruing. All in all quite more-ish with a very fulfilling finish. 13% alc. $19.99. 11Jun2014.
Light gold with a tantalising sweet toasty aroma reminiscent a little of fresh-out-of-the-oven just buttered croissants and a taste crammed with caramel, citrus and juicy nectarine with a toasty savoury undercurrent to the long creamy finish. Just so smooth and easy-going in a medium-bodied package, a great Xmas party socialising wine and classy drinking for the price. 13% alc. $19.99. 5Nov2014.

Sacred Hill The Rifleman’s Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Already golden with a citrine glow, the opulence radiates from the glass as soon as it is put to the nose … it’s sensually smoky with nuances of caramel cream followed by a mouthfilling taste that is powerful and savoury with spicy oak, ripe fleshy peach, a touch of citrus and creamy Macadamia nuts with the caramel notes from the nose re-remerging on the long, smooth, seamless finish. Outstanding wine. Just delicious. A resounding match to cauliflower mashed with butter and cream. 13.% alc. $75. 9Dec2014.
Straw gold in hue with a mealy, nutty, nougat and butter milk aroma and nutty and lean in the palate, like a very youthful Burgundy or Grand Cru Chablis. It opens up beautifully with citrus, white peach and spicy oak flavours compounding in the mouth and the lingering aftertaste is long and expansive. A stellar wine that should go in the cellar right now. It can be cellared confidently for many years. 13.5% alc. $69.99. 14Jan2015.
Light gold with a tantalising creamy, malty bouquet infused with honeyed oak. There are lots of interesting characters in this beautifully refined wine but foremost I find it nutty and savoury with touches of stonefruit, a bubble gum estery youthfulness, a nougat-like sweetness and a long seamless finish. A beautiful, beautiful wine with all the markers for longevity. An absolute star. 13.5% alc. $69.99. 20May2015.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light lemon gold with the first impression on the nose being buttered popcorn-like toasty oak with the smoky oak traits very much to the forefront in the fresh, bold palate. Smooth and creamy in the mouth with a citrus pop to the stonefruit flavours – the very ripe fruit giving an impression of sweetness but a welcoming savoury mealy touch to the long full finish. Don’t over chill at this youthful stage of its life. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 25Jun2014.
Light gold. Creamy on the nose and spicy in the palate with a mealy complexity. There's plenty of toasty vanillin oak but it is in harmony with the fruit already. Mouthfilling and fleshy with nougat characters a feature and citrus emerging on the full-bodied finish. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
Aromas of manuka woodsmoke, bacon and grilled nectarine fill the bouquet of this gorgeous, mouthfilling, toasty, savoury wine that has touches of stonefruit, hints of grapefruit and a long salted caramel finish. Very polished with fabulous length and a seamless flow. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 25Feb2015.
If you like caramel in your chardonnay this will take you right into the zone. There’s woodsmoke and caramel on the nose and it is super tasty, full-bodied, powerful and creamy in the palate with a spicy vanillin oak savouriness, a deep butter caramel popcorn richness, a vibrant zesty zing and a gorgeously long and beautifully polished finish with hints of smoky bacon as the warm, mouthfilling flavours linger. Fermented in 100% American oak, 50% new. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 18Mar2015.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 'Twin Hills' Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This is a rich, creamy, toasty oak style. It's a medium light gold colour, the bouquet is suggestive of grilled stonefruit and nutty oak, and the taste is full-bodied, spicy and creamy with a yummy vanilla biscuit deliciousness and a savoury oak flair to the finish. Saint Clair is known for their use of American oak in Chardonnay, but this plump, tasty Block 10 is 100% French, 50% new. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 18Mar2015.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. Caramel cream on the nose. Smoky oak and grilled stonefruit fill the palate with a generous mouthfeel and a long creamy finish with citrus brightness as the delectable nutty oak flavours linger. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.
This is a powerful style with tropical fruit and citrus on the nose and a creaminess to the texture with flavours of spicy oak and lashings of citrus zest that gives such a bright bouncy feel, yet it has a beautifully savoury nutty backbone and touches of grilled peach to provide perfect harmony. Developing nicely in the bottle, the finish is long, rich, rounded and mouthfilling. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 8Apr2015.
Full-bodied, rich and complex, this is a mouthfilling wine with a rich, creamy, buttery, butterscotch veneer. Gutsy, full-bodied, buttery, toast and spicy. 13.5% alc. $32.90. 22Dec2015.

Saint Clair Premium Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold in hue with a ripe peach and sweet smoky oak scent and smooth, juicy and creamy in the palate. It’s a youthful wine with mealy notes, tropical fruit, deliciously ripe stonefruit and a tickle of zest and tonight, served lightly chilled, it presents as an instantly approachable medium-bodied starter or socialising wine. 13% alc. $15.99. 18Mar2015.

Seifried Barrique Fermented Nelson Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Golden yellow with a mellow aura to the spiced stonefruit aroma and an elegant savoury oak undercurrent to the creamy palate with juicy citrus and melon fruit and sandalwood nuances on the full-bodied finish. A little tight to start but opens up nicely in the glass. 14% alc. $22.99. 2Dec2015.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light yellow gold. Toasty oak and peach aromas are woven with lemon butter cream from malo and barrel ferment. Smoky and bold to the taste with polished spicy oak surrounding juicy stonefruit and citrus flavours and a fine seamless flow. This double gold medal winner (NZIWS & Spiegelau competitions) is very much in the First Glass #chardonnaylovers 5 o'clock drinks mould. 14% alc. $14.99. 27Jan2016.

Soho Carter Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Aromas of bread sauce with subtle smoky notes and hints of citrus and spice, this fine textured wine has tropical fruit to the fore with the oak playing only a supporting role in the background. Seems hardly there at first but expands in the palate with nutty mealy savoury notes and a long rich finish, where once again the tropical fruit makes itself known. Definitely needs more time. 14.7% alc. $37.99. 2Jul2014.

Soho White Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 Light golden yellow with a bouquet of sweet nutty oak and grilled peach, and bold toasty flavours with a zesty, citrussy edge, honeyed tropical fruit and smooth layers of butterscotch intertwined through a crisp, biscuity finish – a little like Anzac biscuits with oats and golden syrup. Really creamy and nice. Great little starter/ socialising wine. 14.5% alc. $17.99. 29Apr2015.

Spade Oak 'Voysey' Gisborne Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Golden yellow with a butter caramel scent and tropical with pineapple the dominant fruit in the palate. A creamy wine but it does have a little grip in the background. Fleshing out more as the wine lingers, this is the entry level wine in the Spade Oak range and made as an affordable wine to drink. 13% alc. $14.99. 30Jul2014.
Golden yellow with a toasty, buttery bouquet and a hint of mushroom adding an earthy intrigue. It seems quite developed yet fresh acidity infuses the spiced apricot flavours with a lemon/lime zing to the warm buttery finish. 13.5% alc. $17.99. 19Aug2015.

Spencer Hill Coastal Ridge Nelson Chardonnay 2013 (c) This is a bold smelling wine with a full-bodied peachy chardonnay allure and tastes rich, full and fat with a peach pie / vanilla custard / clotted cream lusciousness and a spicy zing to the oaky finish. A powerful Chardonnay that’s seamless in its flow and ready to drink. 13.5% alc. $22.99. 26Aug2015.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) There are flinty nutty nuances to the bouquet of this light golden-hued wine and the taste is just so savoury with creamy oak, rich roasted nut characters and a spicy, zesty flourish to the bright, fresh finish. In the fruit department grilled peaches and tropical fruit come to mind. A terrific social wine as it is lovely to sip just on its own but don’t over chill as it pronounces the acid spine. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 26Aug2015.

Squawking Magpie The Chatterer Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light golden coloured with an aromatic but delicate bouquet that has a hint of creaminess with a nuance of tropical fruit that is more obvious in the palate where melon, tropical guava and a touch of dried pineapple join the fray. Then spicy oak emerges with a ginger / pepper-like bite. Smooth and silky in texture with hints of fresh tangelo juice as the juicy flavours linger. 13.7% alc. $18.99. 11Mar2015.

Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013 – Hawkes Bay(c) Light glossy gold with a delicate cashew, smoky French oak and mealy yeast lees scent – the oak coming into its own in the palate. It's bone dry with classy French oak intermingling with malty flavours underpinned by grapefruit-like citrus, crisp peach and nectarine fruit and a long, mealy finish sprinkled with nutmeg. Great mouthfeel and presence. Outstanding potential and could prove to be one of the greatest Elstons ever made. 14% alc. $29.99. 14May2014.
This is a gorgeous smooth creamy Chardonnay with an utterly beguiling smoky savouriness to the bouquet and a rich spicy character to the taste together with caramel coated grilled peach and an exciting expansive finish. You can taste the classy French oak but the tightly structured acidity could do with a little more integration. Can be cellared confidently for several years. 14% alc. $29.99. 21Jan2015.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This young 'fruit forward', lightly oaked wine is a pale citrine hue with delicate stonefruit aromas and tropical and stonefruit flavours with banana-like esters that will integrate with a little more time. While initially fresh and zingy the underlying mealy flavours become bolder on the finish with a touch of butterscotch and oatmeal coming through. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 14May2014.

Te Whai Bay Mangawhai Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light yellow gold. Ripe and creamy on the nose. Smooth and seamless in the palate with fleshy peach, tropical fruit and a delightful infusion of tangelo with smoky oak on the luxurious long finish. 13% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.

Terra Sancta River Block Bannockburn Central Otago Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold. Smoky savoury oak scents are alluring. Lovely rich nutty bf characters fill the palate with hints of grapefruit. A stunning Burgundian look-alike wine. Smooth and silky with elegance and finesse. One of my favourites. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
The bouquet of this light gold stunner offers up gunsmoke and grapefruit and it is bold and funky in the palate with the complexity of wild yeast barrel ferment - the winemaking style of the chardonnays I love. Very dry yet there's a succulent stonefruit sweetness infusing smoky, savoury, mealy, flavours with malo characters adding a classy Burgundian-like allure. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 20May2015.

The Landing Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Smoky caramel oak and tropical fruit radiates from the glass and the taste is super creamy with a butterscotch and caramel-coated popcorn nuance to the delicious toasty oak flavours, all the while the fruit in harmony. Grilled stonefruit joins tropical fruit and there is a citrus brightness to the lingering finish. Seriously powerful. Seriously stunning. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 15Oct2014.

Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2013 Light gold in hue with a ripe stone fruit bouquet that has apricot and sweet citrus to the fore. Smooth and creamy to the taste with juicy stonefruit, a zesty bite and a well-balanced mealy savoury finish that expands as the flavours linger leaving a rounded aftertaste with a flourish of malt and caramel. Made by Greystone Wines, it’s a lovely bright fresh early evening socialising style of wine. 14% alc. $17.99. 20May2015.

Two Gates Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold with a gem-like lustre. Full of creamy malo aromas with a hint of butter caramel, but the taste has an abundance of caramel together with butter-coated popcorn and Werthers Originals caramel creams. The ripe fleshy nectarine and yellow plum holds ground with a solid spicy oak backbone and a seamless texture that makes it slip down easily. Citrus on the finish provides a welcome acid zing. Made by former Vidal winemaker, Rod McDonald, now with his own Rod McDonald Wines stable. 14% alc. $23.99. 25Mar2015.

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This light gold hued wine was immediately described by one of the tasters as ‘gun smoke and marmalade’. I find it quite simply glorious with an alluring bouquet and rich, creamy flavours of grilled peach, macadamia nuts, spicy oak and lashings of citrus perhaps made a little more conspicuous by the one hour of chilling but the nice touch of malty savouriness brings the acidity into harmony. Full-bodied, seamless and long, this wine is already beautiful especially as the chill comes off the glass, but based on the legacy of previous vintages it will reward even more with cellaring. AirNZ Champion 2014. 13% alc. $49.99. 26Nov2014.
Light gold with a lustrous sheen. The bouquet and taste is all class. It’s dry and flinty with gunsmoke and grapefruit, very fine textured, very pure, perhaps a little bit tight and lean but will unfold beautifully with a little more time. An exciting chardonnay with grilled peach emerging, a tantalising malty undercurrent and a deliciously long finish. 13.5% alc. $49.99. 20May2015.
There are very fine malty nuances to the evocative lemon biscuit scents that carry through to the exciting and vibrantly citrussy palate. The fine expression of the bouquet resonates in the texture of the beautifully and elegant taste. It's all nougat and nuts and malt and stonefruit with a youthful freshness that will ensure this wine will last for many years. Cellar this beauty confidently or enjoy immediately. Looking absolutely stunning on the night. 13% alc. $49.99. 26Aug2015.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Ferment Gisborne Chardonnay 2013 (sc) This seems to be departure from previous chardonnays under this label. The shy bouquet is delicately fragrant but the taste is creamy and mealy with biscuity oak and funky notes. It's spicy and bright with tropical fruit to the fore – dried banana and melon come to mind – and the finish is rounded, mouthfilling and long with exceptional length. Garnering complexity as the flavours linger, it’s a wine that can be cellared with confidence. From two sites in Gisborne with natural ferment occurring in 30% of the blend. 14% alc. $29.99. 19Nov2014.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Spicy and mealy on the nose. Spicy oak fills the palate of this refined wine that initially seems a little gravelly and flinty. Overall a vibrant style of chardonnay with fresh stonefruit and melon flavours and a harmonious mealy savoury undercurrent to the full-bodied creamy finish. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
The bouquet is all nougat and cream, quite delicate at first but getting more and more fragrant as the wine opens up. Funky, mealy and mouth-coating creamy with a beautifully balanced citrus, a touch of apricot and savoury oak intrigue. There’s a spicy brightness to the finish and very good length. From a collection of vineyard sites in the Bay with natural ferment occurring in 40% of the blend. 14% alc. $26.99. 19Nov2014.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Nutty oak and grapefruit on the nose with a stunning mealy complexity. Smooth and creamy in the palate with tropical fruit, stonefruit and citrus zest in harmony with the mealy undercurrent and spicy savoury oak finish. Great intensity and length. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2013 – Hawkes Bay (sc) The fragrance is mealy with a lemon and butterscotch infusion, becoming more smoky as the wine opens up, and the taste is ultra malty and funky – it is 100% wild yeast ferment, the first time that Nick has achieved it. Full-bodied with a juicy brightness and flavours of stonefruit, citrus and toasty oak combining in harmony. There’s a slightly earthy, flinty undercurrent and touches of sweet orange also come through. Complex and layered with fantastic mouthfeel and length, it is set to evolve beautifully over the next few years. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 19Nov2014.
This is still a tight flinty wine in many respects but the long term potential is clearly there. The bouquet is mealy with hints of toasty oak, grilled peach and lime and the taste is dominantly savoury with spicy oak, nuts, nougat, flittering glimpses of dried pineapple and tropical fruit. A complex, mouthfilling wine with a very long finish, it’s best to put away for a while. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 25Feb2015.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light gold hued with lemony leesy aromatics, it’s spicy and zesty on first tasting with a crisp, dry flinty undercurrent then white peach and honeyed oak softens the wine and nutty, creamy, nougat-like nuances come through. Toasted oak loiters in the background and the expansive savoury and citrussy finish has a touch of wild yeast funk. Developing beautifully, it’s ready to accompany seafood right now. 13% alc. $29.99. 11Nov2015.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Light yellow gold with an appealing toast and butter caramel bouquet, it is smooth, creamy, savoury and toasty to the taste with a spicy tingle, fleshy tropical fruit and stonefruit and a honey/caramel nutty richness to the long rounded finish. A 'retro' style, it is very drinkable already and another winner from this ultra reliable Chardonnay producer. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 11Jun2014.
Toasty oak and butterscotch on the nose follow through to the palate to impart a feeling of harmony. There’s a flinty undercurrent and zesty citrus fruit with accents of grapefruit and a touch of spiced apple in the background. It's looking like it is going to develop well but this bottle seems like it needs more time. 13.5% alc. $18.99.18Feb2015.

Wairau River Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Pale gold in hue with a subtle smoky allure to the honeyed oak and apricot scent and a zingy spicy vibrancy to the full rich mouthcoating flavours of apricot and peach with the oak understated and integrated and a long soft creamy finish that is very appealing. Value packed drinking. 14% alc. $14.99. 28Jan2015.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 (sc) There's an alluring manuka woodsmoke scent and peach and tropical fruit fill the smooth creamy palate with the toasty oak integrating harmoniously and a touch of crème brûlée on the long juicy finish. Reminds me of one I liked years ago – perhaps the multi award winning 2007. Delicious drinking immediately. 13.1% alc. $19.99. 21Jan2015.
The shy bouquet of this light yellow gold number offers up sweet oatmeal biscuit notes with a waft of peach yet it is a bold flavoured wine, more powerful than the wines that have preceded it tonight. It's full of sappy oak with fleshy peach and a very long, rounded, creamy, lemon butter finish. 13.1% alc. $19.99. 20May2015.

Westbrook Waimauku Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Complex nutty oak and sweet vanilla infusion to the smoky barrel ferment scent, custard and apricots also come to mind. Bright and spicy with tropical fruit that hints of dried pineapple together with melon and sweet citrus, a nutty mealy complexity, a harmonious smoky savoury oak backbone, smooth seamless flow and a long generous finish. Lovely wine. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting 9Sep2014.
This smells just so inviting with its sweet vanilla and buttery barrel ferment scents and the taste is just so juicy and delicious with flavours of ripe tropical fruit accented with spiced pineapple, apricots and nutty creamy oak with a touch of savoury funk on the long generous finish. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 24Sep2014.

Wrights The Natural Wine Co Gisborne Organic Chardonnay 2013 (sc) Bright and fresh with abundant summer fruit flavours - melon, nectarine and pawpaw come to mind. It's very dry with a pleasing infusion of spices and zest. Plenty of concentration in this unoaked organic, bio-dynamic, vegetarian wine. 14.5% alc. $19.95. 24Sep2013.

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Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Riesling
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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