Awarded Classic Status.
An exceptionally early budburst was brought about by a very mild spring. Warm summer days with cool nights and a balmy, dry autumn produced healthy, beautifully ripened fruit while retaining a wonderful balance and crispness.
The vines, which are 25 years old, on their own roots, grow in well drained, stony soil on a series of north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day but cool at night, resulting in good ripening while retaining the berries natural acids. Our main variety of chardonnay, known locally as Mendoza, typically produces light crops of small berries and hence tends to make concentrated wines.
We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. After picking in mid-April, the fruit was gently pressed and the unclarified juice put into large French oak barrels (puncheons), only 30% of which were new. There it underwent spontaneous primary fermentation by the grapes’ own yeasts, (without any temperature control, other than the cool nights of the late autumn). The wine then rested on this yeast deposit (sur lie). In the summer after harvest it started to go through natural secondary (malo-lactic) fermentation by its indigenous micro-organisms. It was regularly tasted during this time and the process stopped when ideal balance was achieved. After a total of 1 year in puncheons the wine was blended and put into a very large, old, oak vat to allow it to further integrate prior to bottling, which was 20 months after harvest.
There is a complex interplay of fruity and savoury elements. Impressions of peaches, yellow plums, greengages and citrus fruits blend with those of breakfast cereal, lightly buttered toast, wood smoke and liquorice. While it has presence in the mouth, initially expanding and starting to show its weight, it is kept tight knit by a stream of minerality which flows through the palate and draws out its tangy after-taste. Although ready to drink on release, with careful cellaring it should continue to develop a range of additional nuances in the bottle over the next 5 or 6 years and live 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...".
“… An absolute Southern icon chardonnay … generously layered … It’s beautifully balanced, and boasts slightly charred oak and waves of gumtingling textures that last and last. It’s outstanding. … “
“There’s no mistaking the power and intensity of this wine … Bold and proud bouquet … a decent acid line and persistent lengthy finish.”
“… fragrant, complex bouquet. Mouthfilling, it is concentrated, with vibrant, peachy, mealy flavours, oak complexity, fresh acidity and the structure to mature well. Full of personality …"
“Lots of flint and stone aromas with lemons and green apples. Medium-bodied with a tight and linear palate and a long, flavourful finish. Very intense.”
“… a smooth-textured chardonnay with white peach, lemon curd, grapefruit and spicy oak flavours. Appealing purity and power. A sophisticated and complex wine.”
“This is one of the South Island’s most powerful, full-bodied, dry and rewardingly complex Chardonnays … The flavours are elegant and focused with a lingering finish.”
“Superbly complex and inviting with ripe stone fruit, grapefruit, gun smoke … it's powerful and richly expressed on the palate offering outstanding depth and textured mouthfeel. Great presence with a prolonged gratifying finish.”
“ … This rich, multi-layered Chardonnay shows power and abundance of vivid fruit across a lengthy, sustained finish.”
“…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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