I’m now officially back from holidays and have spent too many hours staring out the window and thinking about where I was just a few days ago – this beach in Forster.
Anyway, there were several wine highlights from the last week and a half worth mentioning, with these two Chardonnay up there with the very best of them.
Kumeu River Maté’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2016
I have a soft spot for Kumeu River Maté’s – aka NZ’s best Chardonnay – and especially with 2-3 years of ageing. This 2016 is now in a very good place, the palate volume turned up, the mouthfeel chunky, rich and toasty in a mode that is anathema to so many mod Aus/NZ styles and all the better for it. As I’ve preached about before, the push towards leaner style Chardonnay has brought freshness, but often at the cost of drinkability. This is very drinkable by contrast. It’s ripe, the acidity lowish for Maté’s but you never feel like that translates into something heavy or lardy, just cosseting richness and complexity with sufficient freshness.
We had it with a glorious duck liver pâté over lunch at Bert’s in Newport (our first solo date sans toddler in a LONG time) and dear lord it was a magic match, the width of both just delicious. I’m 100 points on the wine/food match (pictured above). This isn’t my fave Kumeu Maté’s as it’s just a fraction ill-defined, but still a lovely wine. Best drinking: nowish. Not going to fall over but in the prime of its life. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.5%, $80. Kumeu River website. Would I buy it? Yes, please.
Howard Park Chardonnay 2019
I can’t remember the last Howard Park Chardonnay (aside from Miamup) that I’ve had and this was a real pleasure. All from the Allingham vineyard in Margaret River, which I’m sure is a departure from when it was previously Great Southern fruit. Clever and well-shaped Margaret River Chard with a classic grapefruit and melon varietal fruit character, well handled and not excessive nutty oak and leesy flavour, the shape of it proudly old school in ripeness but with new school freshness.
I love good Margaret River Chardonnay, and the enjoyment factor here is very high. Best drinking: ready to drink for at least the next 5 years. It’s not a cellaring style per se but it will last. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $58. Howard Park website. Would I buy it? Yes.