Chard Farm, Central Otago
Visiting this impressive Gibbston-based winery, in New Zealand's Central Otago wine region


Rob Hay, originally from the Nelson region, studied winemaking in Germany for three years and then returned to New Zealand in 1985. He moved down to Central Otago in 1986. These were the early days of wine in the region, with a number of hobbyists, each with an acre or two, but Rob had picked up on a bit of interest here, and got a job making wine for pioneer Alan Brady, at Gibbston Valley. He ended up staying as winemaker for Gibbston until 1992.

In 1987, with help from his family, and supported by his German wife, Rob bought Chard Farm. It's a beautifully situated property, bordered on one side by the raging Kawarau River. This vineyard site was supplemented by four properties that he bought in the Cromwell Basin in the late 1990s, and now Chard Farm are 85-90% self sufficient in terms of grapes. The home block is around 12 hectares planted, and altogether Chard have around 50 hectares, which is a good size for this small-ish region.

John Wallace and Rob Hay

I visited with both Rob and his winemaker of 14 years John Wallace. The house style tends to freshness. 'Rich is easy to do round here,' says Wallace. 'I am trying to make them fresh and elegant.'

I wasn’t completely convinced by some of the whites, but the Pinots showed consistently well, with lots of freshness and interest.


Chard Farm Riesling 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
The two Rieslings are both from the same vineyard, just picked at different times. This has 15.1 g/litre residual sugar, pH 3.04. Honey, lemon and spice nose. The palate is lemony, spicy and rich; textured with nice acidity and a hint of sweetness. 90/100

Chard Farm Viper Vineyard Riesling 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
38 g/l residual sugar, pH 3.14. Aromatic, sweet lemony nose with subtle honey notes. Lively palate has subtle herb and lanolin notes. Bright and focused, showing good balance – the sugar is carried very well. 91/100

Chard Farm Pinot Gris 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
Subtle, rounded and textured grape and pear fruit with a bit of smokiness. Dry but has some richness. 88/100

Chard Farm Closeburn Chardonnay 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
An unoaked Chardonnay. Unusual herbal, green character to the wine. Not nice. 78/100

Chard Farm Judge & Jury Chardonnay 2011 Central Otago, New Zealand
Some honey and lanolin notes here as well as green-tinged sweet, textured fruit. Distinctive and quite fresh. 87/100

Chard Farm River Run Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
Fresh, vivid, pure and bright with rounded cherry and plum fruit. Fresh, pure and supple, and quite delicious. 92/100

Chard Farm Mata-Au Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
From two vineyards, Lowburn and Parkburn, 20% new oak. Bright, fresh, focused and supple on the nose with red cherries dominant. The palate is focused and fresh with bright juicy red fruits. Supple, bright and quite fine. 93/100

Chard Farm MkII Parkburn Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
A sloping, north-facing vineyard, with 60% Abel clone, 20% 777 and 20% 667. Distinctive fresh nose has a ginger/spice edge to the red cherries. Supple pure and elegant with bright fruit, as well as asian spices and aniseed. Very distinctive. 93/100

Chard Farm Tiger Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
The oldest of the three single vineyards, this has been made since 2002. Predominantly clone 5 with some 777 and 667. Bright, supple and textured with pure cherry fruits and a supple personality. Very pure with red cherry fruit: an elegant style. 94/100

Chard Farm Viper Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
Supple and fresh, in a lighter style. Some savoury notes and some spiciness, with black as well as red cherry fruit. Lovely purity to this elegant wine. 94/100

Chard Farm Viper Vineyard 2010 Central Otago, New Zealand
Relatively pale colour, Supple, elegant and nicely rounded, a lighter style with sweet red cherry fruits and some texture. Beginning to open out with lovely elegance and some structure under the smooth, sweet fruit. 94/100

Chard Farm Tiger Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago, New Zealand
Aromatically a little closed. Lovely palate, though, which is fresh, supple and has a touch of green leafiness. Nice weight and focus with red cherries and subtle plumminess. Linear and pure. 93/100

Chard Farm Tiger Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 Central Otago, New Zealand
Warm and sweet with lively aromatics and hints of ginger and herbs. Enticing. There’s even a hint of seaweed. The palate has freshness and purity with a bit of warmth as well as elegant fruit. Shows a hint of soy: this has developed nicely in a warm spicy sort of way. 94/100


Central Otago masterclass
Burgundy masterclass
24 fine wines tasted at the Grand Dinner

Gibbston Valley
Chard Farm
Wooing Tree
Folding Hill
Mount Difficulty
Lowburn Ferry
Grasshopper Rock
Doctors Flat


Felton Road
Mount Difficulty
Pisa Range 
Gibbston Valley

Wines tasted 02/14  
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