Chardonnays raising the bar of excellence

I continue to appreciate the quality of the Chardonnays being crafted around the country and I’ve been very fortunate this year to taste many wonderful examples.

Today’s selection well and truly upholds that standard, with thrilling examples from Central Otago, North Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay all strutting their stuff. It’s not really a question of them competing against one another, rather that as a whole, they are raising the bar for Chardonnay lovers across New Zealand.

Note: The $88 price listed for the Dunedin Craft Distillers Dry Gin in last week’s column is actually for the 750ml bottle. The 500ml bottle depicted is $72.


2022 Maude Mt Maude Wanaka Chardonnay

Price RRP $50
Rating Excellent

Lovely nose of ripe 
peach, flint, lanolin, a light 
measure of refined oak. 
Creamy texture, rich & 
ripe yet light on its feet. 
Touches of caramel & 
toast, a wisp of melon 
appears on the close. 
A chewy, grainy feel 
adds to the texture, 
while a vein of acidity 
keeps this fresh. 
Already open with 
lots to enjoy, yet a 
stunning 2014 
enjoyed recently 
speaks of the 


2022 Craggy Range Kidnappers Chardonnay 

Price RRP $32.95
Rating Excellent to Outstanding

Subtle yet attractively 
expressed, white peach, 
clotted cream, citrus zest, a 
minerally nuance. The 
palate is racy & vibrant, 
adding mandarin, 
Chablis like sea-shell 
notes and salinity, 
coolness with a 
wonderful carry. Poise 
and precision, tautness 
to this with its core of 
acidity. Energy, 
vibrancy, finer-boned 
yet with deceptive depth 
& complexity.


2021 Domain Road Defiance Bannockburn Chardonnay 

Price RRP $34
Rating Excellent to Outstanding

Delightfully perfumed nose, 
a twist of lemon peel, 
stonefruits, a touch of 
nutty, butterscotchy oak 
pops its head over the 
parapet. Rather beguiling, 
depth of flavour, 
stonefruits building, 
grilled nuts, wisps of 
toffee, the acidity 
lending an
attractive sweet ‘n’ sour 
quality to the close with 
a structural backbone 
evident. Tingly, vibrant, 
gets the juices flowing.


2020 Pegasus Bay Chardonnay

Price RRP $45
Rating Excellent to Outstanding

Powerful nose with 
struck match, hints of 
funk, tropical fruits, 
spice, citrus, drawing 
you back for more. 
Evident richness, yet the 
palate is dry and tightly 
structured, the flavour 
intensity and power 
the flesh on its 
bones. This is a 
‘bigger’ Chardonnay, 
but with integration, 
poise and a sense of 
refreshment. So 
much enjoyment 
now, potential too.


2022 Maude Central Otago Chardonnay

Price RRP $30
Rating Excellent

Subtlety, cashew nut, 
sea-shell salinity, white 
peach, spice & 
woodsmoke with time, 
fine, elegant. The palate 
continues the flavour 
journey, a minerally, 
chalky/fruit pithy 
nuance adding to the 
texture, nuttiness 
and a tangy 
counterpoint framing 
the close. This 
swells nicely with 
aeration, fruit 
building, retaining 
lovely drive & energy.


2022 Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard HB Chardonnay

Price  RRP $44.95
Rating Very Good to Excellent

No mistaking the 
Chardonnay profile with its 
peach, tropical fruits, spice 
& butterscotch, bonfire 
embers with time, 
subtlety. This hits the 
elegance button, 
medium-weight yet not 
at all underpowered as 
the depth of flavour 
creeps up on you. A 
tangy quality gives this 
zest, picks up an anise 
accent too, finesse and 
already open for