Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc is known throughout the wine drinking world and is the key export variety for New Zealand. Although Pinot Noir is regarded as the next in line, for me Chardonnay is Aotearoa’s best grape, making excellent examples in nearly every Kiwi wine region. Acidity is generally quite prominent, even after MLF, as this is mainly a cool climate country. Here’s a bottle I tried recently with a bit of age on it:
Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2012 (13.5%, RRP €36.50 (2016/7 vintages) at Blackrock Cellars, Baggot St Wines, Donnybrook Fair, The Corkscrew, jnwine.com)
I recently did an article on Cloudy Bay and mentioned that the head winemaker for many years was Kevin Judd. As the company grew they took on more staff in the vineyard, in the winery and back office functions such as marketing. Two of the winemaking team – Ivan Sutherland and James Healy – eventually decided to branch out and set up by themselves.
With the support of their wives Margaret and Wendy (respectively) they launched their 2002 vintage in early 2004. They gradually expanded their range and make several different wines, including the excellent and age-worthy Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc (I tried the 2010 in 2014).
Interestingly, when Kevin Judd himself founded Greywacke later the same decade, he got agreement from his old colleagues at Dog Point to use their winery facilities.
At seven and a half years from vintage, this bottle is much older than most you will see around on the shelves in wine merchants; many have the 2016 or even 2017 vintages of the Chardonnay available (I bought this bottle from my old haunt Sweeney’s of Glasnevin which closed this summer.) It has a very yeasty, toasty nose – possibly because of lees work while maturing. The funk continues onto the palate where it is joined by soft citrus, pineapple and hints of stone fruit. Trademark NZ acidity is still present to prevent the wine from being at all flabby.
This 2012 is probably at its peak and ready to decline gently, so I would not keep it for much longer if I had another bottle, but it’s drinking beautifully now. If you buy a younger vintage, try keeping it a while (if you can keep it well) to see how it evolves.