Hawke’s Bay may usurp Gisborne’s spot as Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand yet. The second biggest wine region in the country (Hawke’s Bay) has just released its first official regional Chardonnay Collection with 12 wines, which I am tasting as I write. The region’s winemakers were invited to submit Chardonnays from the 2019 vintage to Cameron Douglas, a wine consultant and reviewer who also holds the Master Sommelier qualification. He was employed by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers to conduct a blind tasting of the 55 wines submitted, from which he selected the 12 top wines. The collection is destined to become an annual feature on the Bay’s winemaking calendar, which will highlight the region’s most popular and most widely planted white wine grape and wine. Chardonnay is also the world’s most popular white wine in terms of numbers globally.
The inaugural collection is featured below. My highlight of the impressive line up is this wine:
2019 Tony Bish Heartwood Chardonnay $34.99
Heartwood Chardonnay is one of the icons in winemaker Tony Bish’s stable of full bodied, next level, dry, rich and flavoursome whites. And the 2019 Heartwood Chardonnay was one of only two New Zealand wines to make the cut into the 2020 Top 100 Wine Discoveries by leading wine authority Robert Parker. It’s made from 100% Mendoza clone Chardonnay grapes grown in the Upper Dartmoor Valley and Bay View in Napier. All grapes were hand harvested and 95% wer fermented in barrel with 5% in Tony’s new French oak ovum. The wine was matured for a year in 25% new Taransaud oak with regular lees stirring (aka batonnage) to enhance the creamy expression of oak maturation.
Balance is key to great taste and this wine has it in spades with freshness to burn, a full body and loads of creamy expression to please the crowds – with zesty acidity to appeal to me. It’s great to see a modern style Chardonnay combining elements of ripeness and spine.
The first Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay Collection
2019 Askerne Estate The Archer Chardonnay RRP $50
2019 Bilancia Tiratore Chardonnay RRP $90
2019 Church Road Tom Chardonnay RRP $150
2019 Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay RRP $45
2019 Collaboration Wines Aurulent Chardonnay RRP $35
2019 Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Limeworks Chardonnay RRP $25
2019 Elephant Hill Salomé Chardonnay RRP $75
2019 Monowai Estate Upper Reaches Chardonnay RRP $35
2019 Pask Declaration Chardonnay RRP $45
2019 Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay RRP $70
2019 Tony Bish Wines Heartwood Chardonnay RRP $35
2019 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay RRP $80