Hawke’s Bay is becoming quite well known for its Chardonnay. It’s a grape that New Zealand hasn’t really owned in the same way as it has for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but there are some really stylish Kiwi Chardonnays out there. I enjoyed these three quite a bit.
Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Just 16 barrels made of this, from three vineyards: Lyons, Kokako and Keltern. 10 months in French oak. Intense, spicy and toasty on the nose with vivid citrus fruit and a mineral twist. The palate shows concentrated, crystalline citrus fruit, with a bitter pithy twist and complex notes of toast, spice and hazelnut. Finishes very lemony, with lingering acidity. There’s incredible concentration of flavour here, and this wine has potential to develop over the next decade, or even two. There’s a touch of pineapple richness, but also very keen acidity and lemony purity. 94/100
Bilancia Chardonnay 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
13% alcohol. This is really refined and just beautifully expressive. There’s a lively, mineral toastiness to the nose, with some nutty hints and bright citrus fruit. The palate is fresh, spicy and intense with a really keen, lively, mineral core. There’s a bit of richness, with a hint of apricot and lemon peel, but the driving force is the keen citrus fruit, with a grapefruit twist on the finish. This is really serious, and should develop nicely. 94/100
Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
14.5% alcohol. Wild ferment in French oak. Powerful and intense with bold peach, apple and pear fruit, with some lively citrus fruit adding freshness. Nuts, spice and tangy apple notes add depth to the palate, and there’s also a roast coffee twist. There’s a ripe allure to this wine, but it still has freshness. Bold stuff with lots of impact. 93/100
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