The big and buttery tasting

Gisborne wine region (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

Gisborne’s winemakers have a Kiwi “we don’t like to shout about our achievements” attitude toward brand promotion. A few send me samples for review, many don’t.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a pack of eight bottles to promote the formation of a “Gisborne Classic Chardonnay” (GCC) group. Any wine producer can join if they make traditionally barrel-fermented and matured chardonnay that must “melt even the coldest heart”.

The GCC website reveals that the organisation has six members, although two more producers, Waimata Vineyards (tastings) and The Prospect (produced by Indevin Partners), also contributed wine.

A significant number of chardonnay drinkers, perhaps as high as 40% based on feedback from my wine class students, miss the ‘big and buttery’ chardonnays that were common a decade or two ago. Big and buttery is a fairly loose term that can be applied to intensely flavoured wine, overtly oaky wine and, of course, wines with prominent malolactic-derived buttery characters.

Gisborne is a good source of big and buttery chardonnay and I discovered that several of the more opulent samples certainly fall into that category.

My top wine, 2015 The Prospect Ormond/Patutahi Chardonnay certainly conformed to the big and buttery standard, although I’d prefer to describe it as “peaches and cream”. It reminded me of the original Montana ‘O’ Chardonnay, which is hardly surprising because winemaker Steve Voysey made both. Big on both texture and flavour. (NZD $27)

The 2016 Waimata Vineyards Cognoscenti Chardonnay was my second favourite. Also generously flavoured with golden Queen peach and plenty of nutty oak characters, this wine also has a more modern touch with a hit of struck-flint character. (NZD $24.99)

My third choice was the 2016 Hihi ‘The Full Monty’ Chardonnay. It also has a strong peach influence with soft acidity and a silken-smooth texture. It’s a real ‘crowd pleaser’, especially at this sub-$20 price. Winemaker, Andrew Nimmo, describes it as “Old-school Gisborne style”. (NZD $19)

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