Awarded Classic Status.
Budburst was early because the weather over that period was one of the warmest ever recorded. Late spring and early summer however, were unseasonably cool and cloudy, sufficiently slowing the development of the grapes to cause us concern. The skies then cleared and we had three to four months of unbroken sunshine. This enabled us to leave the fruit on the vine to attain excellent maturity and ripeness.
The vines, most of which are over a quarter of a century old, grow on north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day, but cool during the night which allows the fruit to ripen fully while retaining good natural acid levels. There is good drainage, which is helped by stones being intermingled with the soil. The variety of chardonnay, from which the wine is made, naturally produces low crops and this is enhanced by the vines being on their own roots and not grafted. A period of cooler weather, mentioned above, occurred over flowering and added to the low crop levels, which has given the wine extra depth and concentration.
We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. The fruit was hand harvested late April, the timing of each picking being planned to strike the best balance between the fruits’ ripeness, freshness and acidity. The unclarified juice obtained by gentle pressing was put into large oak barrels (puncheons), where it was allowed to undergo primary fermentation by the grapes’ indigenous yeasts. When this had stopped the wine was left maturing in these barrels over winter. When the cellar warmed in the early summer after harvest the wine commenced secondary (malo-lactic) fermentation naturally without the addition of micro-organisms. The exact amount of malo-lactic fermentation permitted was judged by regular tasting. After a year the wine was removed from the barrels and carefully blended according to taste and put into stainless steel tanks to help it further mature and marry prior to bottling 6 months later. The use of puncheons, only a minority of which were new, and completion of maturation in tank has lessened the pickup of any oak flavours and allowed the fruit to express itself.
The bouquet and flavour suggest lemons, limes, white fleshed peaches, yellow plums and melon. There is a complex seam of savoury nuances hinting at barbeque meats, sweet corn, wood smoke and liquorice. The wine seems to expand in the mouth to become powerful but remains muscular and taut with a core of minerality and tangy acidity, which flow through the wine, draws out its lingering aftertaste. While ready to drink on release, it should cellar well for a decade or more.
Awarded Classic Status.
"Although wine maker Matthew Donaldson look as though he has just got in from an all night rave they are presently producing some of New Zealand’s most exhilarating, Burgundy inspired white wines...".
“…The wines is creamy, dry, full-bodies and savoury with an incredibly refreshing taste of ripe, citrusy grapefruit and a lingering finish.”
“…This is not your shy and retiring Chardonnay … it’s a real mouthful … “
“Strapping yet delicate, richly flavoured yet subtle, this sophisticated North Canterbury wine is one of the country’s best Chardonnays … “
“Intense, richly textured … A generously-proportioned and complex chardonnay”.
“… a wonderfully weighted palate that offers outstanding depth and richness … gloriously satisfying” .
“… Masterfully, this speaks the language of Burgundy with all of its familiar inflections; flint, restraint, the phenolics of a delayed whole-bunch press … An intellectual rendition and very well done.”
“…Great intensity and concentration. Complex and rich; long finish with grapefruit citrus … “
“This powerful, North Canterbury wine has a definite ‘wow’ factor. … Full of personality, ... weighty but elegant palate, … lovely depth.”
“Impressive, vibrant and flinty …Great wine that is packed with interest”
“Superbly fruited and impressively lifted …. Seductively flinty complexity. … The palate is equally engaging with excellent weight and concentration … finishing extremely long and expansive”
“Bold, complex and flavoursome Chardonnay … A rich, weighty, textural wine that ‘feels’ as good as it tastes”
“ … the wine posses underlying power carrying the palate to a long finish. … a rich and luscious chardonnay …”
“... satisfylingly complex wine with a great texture and very lengthy finish. A bright high energy wine …”
“…Right out of the blocks …drinking superbly”
“...Quite complex … tasty and very moreish. Lengthy finish, balanced and well-made”
“...Excellent … a walk on the wild side …”
“Handy concentration and integration of some very complex traits … long smooth finish”
“Very complex, very concentrated and very good. This has a big hit of grapefruit and lemon citrus. Quite pithy and flinty. The palate has layers and layers of fruit, delivering flavors that follow in the stone fruit and citrus threads seen on the nose. Spicy oak warms up through the finish”
“ …. The bouquet is fragrant and youthful; the palate weighty … a very finely balanced, long, savoury finish. Already delicious ….”
“ … the palate is elegantly concentrated with an intense heart … The mouthfeel has fine textures guiding the fruit, and the acidity is refined and refreshingly crisp … to a long, lingering finish of stonefruits and nuts. This is an intense and complex flavoured Chardonnay” .
“It’s not often you find Chardonnay as good as this one,…a complex, dry and richly flavoursome white…super delicious…”
“Strapping yet delicate, richly flavoured yet subtle, this sophisticated North Canterbury wine is one of the country's best Chardonnays. …. Weighty, sweet-fruited and smooth, it has very generous, peachy, mealy, slightly buttery and spicy flavours, and a long, dry, savoury, seamless finish”
“ …. punchy and bold in expression. Full-bodied and with immense presence and power …. This is a very powerful, flavour-packed, complex-layered Chardonnay …”
“ … a rich, intense Chardonnay that has plenty of power …A wine that shows class"
“...Bold, powerful wine with a lingering finish.” .
“ This is an outstanding white wine, year on year; modelled on the great Burgundian whites … An exceptional South Island Chardonnay that says ‘drink me now’ but also clearly has the staying power to age and evolve beautifully …” .
“..complexity builds as the wine rests on the palate; specific use of oak adds texture and length.A great wine that teases the palate in all the right ways..”
“…The wine has a linear core following a fine, textural thread, unveiling layers of savoury stonefruit and nutty detail with subtle oak and minerally nuances as it carries to a long, softly refreshing finish. This is a complex-flavoured savoury, stonefruit and nutty Chardonnay with excellent vitality and fresh acidity . . .”.
This Chardonnay comes from North Canterbury’s best known winery, Pegasus Bay, whose reputation has been forged on making great whites – particularly full bodied Rieslings but also exceptional good Chardonnays, which can age well. This is due to the cool climate delivering grapes with vibrant acidity, which preserves these lovely fleshy whites.
One of the best NZ Chardonnays I’ve tasted this year. This youthful Chardonnay is taut and linear, focused and elegant. It gives attractive flinty sulphide-derived characters, as well as white stone fruit. New French oak adds a hazelnutty layer. High level of concentration in mouth suggests low yields, and combined with a long finish, this Chardonnay exudes quality.
“…Reticent, pure aromas of lemon peel, lime, minerals and white pepper. Densely packed and subtly complex, with citrus and nectarine flavors complemented by spicy oak and a captivating leesy quality that contributes texture as well as another flavor element. More Burgundy than New World in style in spite of its mid-palate sweetness….” .
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