From the long-lost cellar, I had saved some mementos of this time, and a meeting at the Never Relentings was the ideal time to release them. Both SWMBO and I were not expecting too much. The mini-vertical started with a 1980 Montana Gisborne Chardonnay. Golden colour with hints of browning were worrying. Devoid of fruit really, more fusel-alcohol and grappa-like vestiges, this ‘smelt’ bitter. Acidic, thin, rather mean, with nutty oxidation and bitterness. This had faded to nothing except the greener componentry. Next was the 1981 Montana Gisborne Chardonnay, light golden and just a hint of browning. Very light aromas, a little citrus still, seeming with fruit sweetness, and hints of herbs. The palate reflected the nose with rather green and sour citrus fruit flavours. Rather sharp in the mouth, but not oxidised at least. Remarkable how it had held, but no pleasure here though. Then the 1982 Montana Gisborne Chardonnay. A step up, as just light golden coloured, with interesting citrus, toasty and savoury herb and stonefruit aromas. Flavour for sure. The word ‘positive’ might be a bit strong. Not offensive, but not really pleasurable.
These showed that commercial, ordinary wines of yesteryear just didn’t have what it takes to go any distance. To be fair, they weren’t designed to. To even get this far is a minor miracle. Maybe their cooler-spectrum picking helped preserve them a little. It does us good to remember they were cool in their day, in more than one way.