Best new release, 19 May 2021, 2019 Zen Chardonnay

Tony Bish is, for many, the Hawke’s Bay king of Chardonnay. Not that he is alone in producing superlative dry whites in New Zealand’s second biggest wine region.

He has earnt the mantle as King of Chardonnay because he has dedicated his Urban Winery (a bar, restaurant and working winery) entirely to Chardonnay; the world’s most popular wine grape. The wine at the top of his Chardonnay tree is called Zen and it’s not cheap. A single bottle goes for $139.99, give or take, depending on where you shop. Its named Zen because that’s how Tony felt when he was making this wine and it was fermenting in the French oak egg that he used to produce it.

Zen is made from dry farmed old vine Mendoza clone Chardonnay grapes grown on the Skeetfield Vineyard in Hawke’s Bay. I tasted it with five others in the weekend, including wine lovers and professionals. We all found it to be a wine that wowed us. It is a full bodied, creamy textured, silky expression of Chardonnay with a weighty body, ripe citrus and stone fruit flavours, zesty acidity to add freshness and a long finish. Whatever it is that maturation in a French oak egg does to a wine, it certainly gives this stunningly textural full bodied Chardonnay the X factor.

19/20

2019 Tony Bish Zen Chardonnay $139.99
I can’t say it better than this: Zen is a full bodied, creamy textured, silky expression of Chardonnay with a weighty body, ripe citrus and stone fruit flavours, zesty acidity to add freshness and a long finish. Whatever it is that maturation in a French oak egg does to a wine, it certainly gives this stunningly textural full bodied Chardonnay the X factor. If you thought you liked Chardonnay beforehand, you’re bound to love it after drinking Zen.

  • The bottle of Zen that I tasted (and yes, also enjoyed drinking) was 1666 of 2450 bottles produced from the 2019 vintage.
  • In an increasing bid to make this website more relevant, I am writing the first of what I hope will be many Best new releases, to be published when time permits in the life of a full time writer and wine adviser.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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