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Lothian Vineyards Chardonnay 2017
The cool climate of Elgin is ideal for producing elegant Burgundian-style whites and this example from Lothian Vineyards is no exception. This stunning wine is made with top quality grapes from the estate’s three blocks of Chardonnay vines which are harvested by hand at optimal ripeness. On arrival at the winery the grapes are pressed as whole bunches and allowed a period of skin contact to add complexity and structure to the wine.
Following fermentation in stainless steel tanks to preserve the graceful varietal character, the young wine is transferred to French oak barrels for 10 months. The result is a richly-flavoured white wine with enticing notes of white peach, apricot, vanilla, and lemon zest. On the palate there is a full body, intense flavours, and firm structure which will help the wine to age gracefully over the next five years or so.
Lothian Vineyards sits on the banks of the Palmiet River and boasts perfectly-sited vineyards planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. This stunning estate was born of the Wilson family’s long search to find the ideal spot to produce Burgundian-style red and white wines and now produces some of Elgin’s most elegant bottlings.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017
A legendary figure in the winemaking world for his pioneering work in California’s Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with the vision of crafting exceptional wines from traditional French varietals. Today the estate is in the capable hands of winemakers Geneviève Janssens, Joe Harden, and Megan Schofield who work tirelessly to keep his dream alive.
This sumptuous Napa Valley Chardonnay is made with grapes carefully sourced from the region’s top AVAs for Chardonnay. The majority of the grapes come from the southern end of the valley where conditions are cooler thanks to fog from the bay and sea breezes which helps them to ripen slowly and maintains freshness in the finished wine.
To capture the pure aromatic character of the Chardonnay grapes, the harvest takes place early in the morning. 70% of the fruit is then fermented in French oak barrels with the remainder vinified in stainless steel tanks. Both are then aged on the lees for 9 months with regular battonage. The result is a rich, creamy Chardonnay which exudes pineapple, pear and mango aromas and flavours along with roasted hazelnuts and sweet vanilla spice which are carefully balanced by a fine acidity.
Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2018
Situated just north-west of Auckland, the family-run Kumeu River winery has built a solid international reputation for elegant, Burgundy-style Chardonnays. Despite the winery’s sultry northerly location, the vines are planted just 20km from the Tasman Sea and 30km from the Pacific Ocean which both help to keep summer temperatures under 30°C. This cooling effect ensures ideal conditions for creating fresh, aromatic white wines which really give their French counterparts a run for their money.
Kumeu’s Hunting Hill Chardonnay is a single vineyard wine sourced from a sloping site which tends to ripen early and contributes a distinctive stony minerality and lemon blossom aroma to the wine. The grapes are carefully hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in oak before spending 11 months maturing in used barrels. This adds a smooth, rounded texture to the wine without overwhelming the bright lemon, pineapple and pink grapefruit essence of the varietal.
Thanks to the mouthwatering freshness and intense fruit flavours, this sophisticated Chardonnay offers significant ageing potential and will continue to develop if cellared up to 2026. When you do decide to drink it, pair with roast chicken seasoned with herbs, lobster or strongly-flavoured cheeses to match the concentrated flavour profile of the wine.
El Enemigo Chardonnay 2017
El Enemigo was founded by Catena Zapata chief winemaker Alejandro Vigil and Nicolas Catena’s youngest daughter, Adrianna Catena who is a historian. This exciting Argentinian project celebrates their shared interest in history, philosophy and literature, creating innovative, boundary-pushing wines with authentic Argentinian soul.
This characterful Chardonnay is sourced from superb vineyards in Mendoza’s Gualtallary sub-region which sit at 1400-1500 metres above sea level. This lofty altitude ensures cool nights even during the summer as well as plenty of bright sunshine which helps ripen the grapes evenly and slowly. In the winery Alejandro uses an unusual technique common in France’s Jura wine region, covering the young wine with a thin veil of flour or yeast and leaving it to age in old oak barrels for 10 months.
This distinctive process gives the Chardonnay striking notes of bitter almonds and dried fruit along with ripe tropical fruit notes from the grape variety itself. On the palate there are savoury notes of cream and toasted nuts along with peach and apricot which linger long on the tongue. This characterful white represents the very best of Argentina’s up-and-coming new wineries and will pair beautifully with pan-fried salmon, tuna steaks or herby roast chicken.
Chateau de Puligny Montrachet Bourgogne Clos du Chateau 2017
“Le Clos du Chateau” is the name of the five hectare viineyard which sits right in front of the Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet and is entirely enclosed by walls. The site includes Chardonnay vines which are up to 80 years old, producing a wine with intense fruit character and minerality from the prized Puligny terroir. The grapes are all harvested by hand to ensure they arrive in the winery in optimum condition.
Two-thirds of the grape must is fermented and aged in oak barrels while the remainder is vinified in neutral tanks. On the nose there are inviting hints of fresh peaches, lemon zest and lime blossom while the first sip reveals a bright freshness, medium body and subte toasty hints from the fermentation and maturation in oak.
The estate has enjoyed a dramatic revival since the arrival of Etienne de Montille in 2001 and the subsequent purchase of the property by Etienne and a group of investors in 2012. Etienne has introduced significant changes including converting the estate to organic and biodynamic grape growing and reducing the influence of oak barrels in the winery. This hard work has already begun to pay off with the quality of the wines soaring in recent years and receiving serious attention from international wine critics.
Felsina I Sistri Chardonnay 2018
Although the Felsina estate is best known for their legendary Chianti Classico red wines made with the traditional local Sangiovese grape, they have been producing this refined Chardonnay ever since the first vintage in 1987. The result of years of experimentation and research, the vines that produce these Chardonnay grapes are grafts from French clones that were planted on an area of the Felsina estate close to the Ombrone river.
Each harvest the grapes are carefully picked and selected by hand before being pressed and fermented in French oak barrels. The wine is then matured in the barrel for a year on the lees and undergoes daily battonage to help create a rich, creamy texture and complex flavour profile. When the maturation period is complete the wine is bottled and rested for at least three months before it is deemed ready for release.
The result is a deeply-coloured white wine with enchanting aromas of white peach, mango and vanilla. The first sip reveals a full body, firm structure and intense tropical fruit aromas along with hints of sweet baking spice balanced by a fresh acidity. The rich, buttery character of this Chardonnay makes it an ideal match for risottos, chicken served in a creamy sauce or hard cheeses.