For starters, and somewhat reluctantly, as a big day lay ahead, they accepted a serve of NV Taittinger Champagne, clearly Chardonnay-influenced, with lighter fruit expression, but this was in no way light and lacking. Instead, there was richness and substance, allied to a pristine cut and definition. Excellent restrained autolysis, true to form, but in place and not overstepping the mark. One of the most delicious bottles of Tatts we’ve had for a while, and it’s usually good anyway.
Onto the birthday celebration, and numerous good wines were being poured. I had more bubbles, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier, and then we thought we’d better try the Chardonnay on offer, a 2007 Villa Maria ‘SV – Taylors Pass’ Marlborough Chardonnay. Sometimes this house gets the complex sulphides past the optimum for my personal taste, but on this showing, quite simply superb. Classical white stonefruits and citrus fruits of Marlborough with acid and minerally cut, and pristine in flow through the palate. Lacy flinty notes lined the wine, totally integral with the other componentry, and oaking just right. A stunner of a wine.
The after-match wind-down time took us to Al’s Eatinghouse for more morsels with Maa who joined us after work. On the wine agenda was a 2008 Kumeu River Chardonnay. Slim-line but wonderfully constituted. Sure, this is marked by flinty notes, but very much in the style of good white burgundy. The sronefruit flavour seem dry and minerally-nutty. Never austere, but certainly not fleshy or sweet. Wonderful with all sorts of food fro shellfish to firm-flesh fish. Kim Kong, SWMBO and I loved it
Then a 2009 Stonecroft ‘Old Vine’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay was called for. A bit cold on presentation, but a little warming saw its weight come through. And has this got weight. Quite a contraste to the Kumeu River. Full-bodied, rich and creamy-textured, with alcoholic power, absorbed by the citrus and tropical fruit density. Good acid freshness too, but a slightly savoury funkiness, possibly oak derived proved a distraction. Something a little extraneous, which Maa enjoyed, but not quite the same for SWMBO and I.
Topping it off was a 2010 Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay. A perennial favourite, as it has everything you want, consistently, and never breaking the bank. Sweet, ripe stonefruits that more than hint at fleshiness and richness of texture. Yet never overdoing it. Complex reduction too, but again judged to perfection and just fitting in. Almost big and powerful, but stylish and quite right for drinking now. Very contemporary, but a wine to satisfy any Chardonnay lover’s check list. As Chardonnay lovers, it did the job, and arguably the best, at least for me, of a succession of Chardonnay.