Chardonnays get their day in the sun

With two-thirds of today’s chardonnays being from Central Otago, I find myself casting my mind back several years to a time when they were far less ‘‘in demand’’.

A chardonnay-loving friend involved with a local winery used to bemoan the difficulty they had in selling the variety, while all their other wines used to fly out the door.

Fast forward to today and consumer passion for chardonnay knows no bounds, with Otago versions competing very successfully with those from around the country.




2020 Helio Hawke’s Bay chardonnay
Price RRP $35
Rating Excellent to outstanding

The nose starts subtle with peach, struck match and a little funk, but grows nicely with aeration. A lighter, aerial quality to this, refined and elegant rather than a ball-tearer. Flecks of nut and citrus appear on the palate but this remains all about the balance with a delightfully long finish. Grows in the glass and already drinking well.

Classy stuff.


2018 Carrick Bannockburn chardonnay
Price RRP $36
Rating Excellent

No doubting the grape variety on the nose with hints of cedar, sour cream/ lactic notes, citrus and bran biscuit with the fruit hovering. Nice balance here, a roundness and suppleness with the fruit to the fore promising excellent drinking right off the bat. A good lick of acidity rounds things off nicely. A lot of user appeal here.

2020 Main Divide North Canterbury chardonnay
Price RRP $20.99
Rating Excellent

Attractive nose with oak scents, oatmealy/nutty characters and ripe fruit supporting the whole. Fresh acidity gives a tingly feel to the tongue, a coolness to this too, yet develops a lovely creaminess on the mid-palate along with some toffee and caramel. An almond/apricot kernel bittersweet note frames the long, crisp finish, getting the salivary glands going.

2018 Carrick Cairmuir Terraces EBM organic chardonnay
Price RRP $47
Rating Very good to excellent

An amalgam of peach, nut and struck match lead on the somewhat subtle nose. The palate offers upan interesting combo of peach, grilled nuts and cooked apple that builds a real tangy quality as it goes along. The acidity is cool and racy with a minerally quality to the close. Feels tightly wound today but would be a belter with Friday night fish ‘n chips.

2020 Dicey Bannockburn chardonnay
Price RRP $32
Rating Very good to excellent

Bolder nose with oak scents, nuts and a mineral element, the fruit in support. A fatness to the palate, nut and caramel elements powerfully to the fore before a vein of citrusy acidity races in to add freshness and cooling crispness. As it opens the nose flirts with some exotic tropical fruits while the palate develops a firm almost chalky grip that begs a little time to unwind.

2018 Wooing Tree Central Otago Chardonnay
Price RRP $38 Rating
Excellent to outstanding

Wisps of smoky petrichor evolve to ripe nectarine and peach with nutty elements and wet stones. There’s power to the palate yet without excess with lovely flow through the mouth and a long finish. As it opens up there’s some chewy grip on the palate that would marry well with food. Overall, stylish and nicely balanced.

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