MARY-THERESE BLAIR on the tricky question of ageing.
I loathe being asked how long wine will last unopened because, honestly, I’m guessing. Can anyone, even the gurus so much more seasoned than I, tell with certainty a wine’s exact perfect drinking moment? I don’t believe so. There are just too many factors to consider: the variety, the vintage, the tannin, the closure. Then, how are you going to store it? If your storage is too unstable, warm and/or bright, you could expect disaster upon opening. Chardonnay, for example, is expected to have an approximate drinking window of 3–7 years. I tend to advise, depending on quality, approximately 5 years if cellared correctly. With that in mind, our top chardonnay – a 2016 vintage – should have been on the decline upon opening this year. But as you will see nothing could be further from the truth. So, I’m considering taking up meteorology as, frankly, I think the weather might be easier to predict.
There's a belief in wine judging that the first and last wines of each flight perhaps don’t get a fair shake. At the start you’re getting your head, and your palate, into the right space and towards the end – particularly if the flight wasn’t terribly good – you can be glad to get to the end of it. It’s one of the reasons why the order in which wines are tasted is randomly generated. It takes a pretty impressive wine to knock it out of the park at the start of the tasting, but that’s exactly what this wine did as the first wine tasted in what was a full day of chardonnay tasting.
The grapes for this single vineyard chardonnay were grown in Marlborough’s Lower Waihopai Valley. Once ready to harvest, these grapes were carefully hand picked and whole-bunch pressed before being rapidly whisked away and into barrel for fermentation using only wild yeast. Here the wine remained on lees for close to ten months before moving to bottle.
The end result is truly something special and it seriously impressed our judges with its freshness and vibrancy six years after completion. An opulent style with moderate colour in the glass, it has lovely concentrated ripe tropical and stone fruit aromas on the nose that segue into a complex, multi-layered and vibrant palate. The seamless palate has gentle presence with lovely fruit against a stunning nutty character which enhances the beautiful texture leading to a crisp yet lengthy finish.
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