Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough 2015 – $
In my opinion, this wine is consistently one of NZs best Chardonnays, vintage on vintage. Must be the site. I have ridden out there a few times. A lovely part of the world.
13% alc. Pale gold colour.
Mealy, golden fruit, aromatic and fine. Notes of oak, vanilla, apricot and mandarin orange and peel.
Fresh and crunchy to taste. Crispness, oak complexity, malo note on the back palate, and meal. Great structure and body. A wine for aging.
Highly Recommended 90 Points
From The Cellar: Palliser Estate Chardonnay Martinborough 2013 – $$$
14% alc. Pale gold colour.
Very aromatic. Warm and rich mealy notes. Oak and bread, apricots and rock melon. Vanilla.
Sharp entry. Lean fruit to taste, fading. Steely brittleness on the mid palate, fruit flavours showing retreat of age or tunnelling. I don’t know enough about this wine to have an informed opinion. Hot finish, medium length. Attractive, still.
Tow nights later, the wine has softened and filled in, showing far more generosity of fruit than was first expressed. Shows the value of decanting!
Recommended 89 Points
From The Cellar: Spy Valley Chardonnay Waihopai Marlborough 2012 – $$
A consistently top Chardonnay from a great producer. I have been collecting and drinking these wines for a few years now. And riding out to the site on the Sunday morning following the Graperide. This example is from the stellar NZ 2013 vintage.
13.5% alc. Pale Gold colour.
Nutty almond on the nose. Mealy. Citrus notes. Complex secondary notes. Divine.
Pure fruit in the mouth. Freshness. Mealy nuttiness flavours, balanced acid, warmth, finishes long. Powerful and intense, and shows real grace. Roughness on the finish adds character.
Highly Recommended 94 Points
A brace of Chardonnays from Kumeu River for the Cinderella treatment:
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $$$ – drink 2020-2022.
I may squeeze a KR Hunting Hill Chardonnay in there too if I can afford it.
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $$$
Being the third KR Chardonnay I have tasted these past weeks, this is the flagship Estate-level blended wine, a step up from the Villages wine I enjoy and consider excellent value. Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay is drawn from six different vineyard sites in the Kumeu Region.
14% alc. Pale gold colour.
Restrained mealy and composed. Aromas of white peach and apple.
Rich and stylish on tasting. Crisp and fresh, acid prevails over fruit. Not as elegant or dense as the Coddington, nor as lively and personable as the Villages. Stuck in the middle. Will it age? Appears to have the boldness and structure to do so for another 3 years. Let’s see then…
Recommended 88 Points
Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $$$
This is Kumeu River’s single vineyard wine I generally prefer the most, right from when I first began tasting their wines. I dare say this is because this shows better when young than the more powerful cousins, Hunting Hill and Matés Vineyard Chardonnays.
13.5% alc. Light brilliant gold colour.
Like KRs usually have, a slightly reductive aroma. Fine, lightly scented, with citrus, melon, lemon, butterscotch and spice.
Crisp and fine to taste. Bold acid and golden fruit. Suppler and elegant with a crunchy punch through the mid-palate. Heat on the finish. Very approachable on one hand; this is too young, too soon, on the other…
I feel this wine is not as accomplished as the 2016 Villages blend Chardonnay I tried previously, despite the $ gulf between them
Highly Recommended 90 points
A trio of top wines from Mercury Bay Estate for the cellar, bought from the winery:
Mercury Bay Estate Chardonnay Coromandel 2016 – $$ – drink now-2021.
Mercury Bay Estate Red Merc Coromandel 2014 – $$$ – drink now-2019. A Pinot Noir/Syrah blend.
Mercury Bay Estate Pinot Noir Coromandel 2014 – $$$ – drink now-2019.
When we were recently on holiday, camping at Hahei Beach, L and I enjoyed a lovely tasting at a beautiful local vineyard, Mercury Bay Estate, on a gorgeous blue sky day. Heaven.
Mercury Bay Estate is situated on the hillside above and behind the beach settlement of Cooks Beach on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. My own family owned a bach at Cooks for many years from the mid-70’s. I grew to love the area, so it was really nice to come back after a long time away and bring my family.
The estate is owned by Simon & Veronica Ward and was formed from the vineyard established by Alex Morcom in 1996 (named Shakespeare Cliff Vineyard after the famous nearby landmark, and then later Cooks Beach Vineyard). The vineyard originally contained plantings of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc, and has more recently expanded to include a block of Pinot Noir.
We opted for a shared tasting of wines originating from the Cooks Beach site alone to get a sense of place (some varieties are sourced from Hawkes Bay). We selected the current releases of Chardonnay, Sparkling Blush, Red Merc (Pinot/Syrah blend) and their Pinot Noir.
I have to say they were all very good. The Chardonnay had a lovely tautness and acidity to it which was attractive, the Blush was all strawberries and lusciousness; the Red Merc was showed for me the best with its intensity and complex flavours, and the Pinot Noir was surprisingly dense and savoury for what I imagine is a hot site, but maybe it is moderated by the sea breezes.
This producer is new to me, and is one to watch.
Kumeu River Village Chardonnay Auckland 2016 – $
Light gold colour. 13.5% alc.
Lovely elegant and expressive nose. Slighlty reductive. Crisp open lifted citris aromas, light stone fruit – unripe apricot – green apple and mint.
Lively and fresh to drink. Crips acid, tingly mouthfeel, mouthewatering, mint again, and complexly layered. Slightly bitter and spicy finish.
This is a wine that really over delivers for its price. Excellent value, just delicious.
Highly Recommended 92 points
A brace of top Chardonnays kept for a sleep-in:
Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay Martinborough 2016 – $$$ – drink now-2021. I thought this was luminous at a recent tasting
Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay Nelson 2016 – $$$+ – drink now-2021. I have ridden past the vineyard where the grapes are grown when I completed in the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge, but I am yet to try this wine. It is reputedly one of NZs finest of the variety. Guess I will find out in a couple of years time, then.