WINE REVIEW: Well-balanced chardonnays

Chardonnay comes in many styles, from simple unoaked wines whose main attractions are their lovely fruit and crisp finish, to full-on wines oozing toasty oak and buttery nuts.

However, the best chardonnays, as with all wines, are well balanced.

The oak and toastiness should support the fruit, the lot should be seamlessly melded, and the after taste linger deliciously.


Spy Valley Unoaked Marlborough Chardonnay 2008
(about $17)

A fresh, zesty wine with sweet stonefruit and a hint of celery, and a juicy, crisp finish.

Two stars (out of five)

Average value


Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
(about $19.95)

White-fleshed peach and sweet nectarine, with a hint of nuts and a silky texture give this wine a little more complexity than its unoaked stablemate.

It is silky, attractive and well balanced.

Three stars (out of five)

Good value

Emeny Road Reserve Chardonnay 2007
(about $23)

This a new label, from a vineyard near Tauranga.

A hint of citrus and mint meld with toasty oak and hints of caramel to give a creamy wine with bright flavours and a stylish structure.

Three stars (out of five)

Average value

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2006
(about $22)

A year older than most of the other wines in this group, this has developed toasty, nutty, caramel flavours, but there's enough fruit and a clean finish to balance for those who like oaky wines.

Three stars (out of five)

Average value

Ata Rangi Petri Wairarapa Chardonnay 2008
(about $28)

A stylish young wine with delicious fruit suggesting golden peaches, creme brulee and toasted nuts, it's charming and zesty with understated oak and a lovely aftertaste.

Four stars (out of five)

Average value

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
(about $30)

A full-on wine, oozing smoky oak and hazelnuts roasted in butter, backed by ripe, white-fleshed nectarine and citrus, but it's also mouthfilling and textural, develops in the glass and has a lovely, long finish.

One that will develop with more bottle age.

Four stars (out of five)

Average value 


Ata Rangi Craighall Martinborough Chardonnay 2007
(about $38)

From one of New Zealand's top producers, this stylish wine is seamless with complex hints of ripe fruit, nutty creme brulee and a velvety texture.

It's understated, but intense and has a finish that lingers for ages.

Delicious now and over the next several years.

Five stars (out of five)

Average value

Matakana Estate Chardonnay 2007
(about $27)

Lots of bells and whistles with this wine from the far north - buttery, nutty, biscuity, mellowed and textural with a hint of mint and a lively finish.

Three stars (out of five)

Below average value


- Although wine sent for review is tasted blind to eliminate preconceptions, all wine tasting and evaluation is subjective. These are personal recommendations.

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