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C.J. Pask Winery Gimblett Road Chardonnay 1999
Chris Pask pioneered grape plantings at Gimblett Road, Hawkes Bay in 1982. The winery now owns and manages 60 hectares of established vineyard in Gimblett Road, arguably the leading viticultural site in New Zealand. The company also has a further 20 hectares, to be developed in the medium term, affording flexibility to future production. Four main blocks are planted at Gimblett Road, on the old riverbed of the Ngaruroro River. The soil profile is typically, fine river silt over free draining shingle which supports premium vine growth exceptionally well.
Three distinct ranges are produced by C J Pask winery, they are predominately estate grown, elegant styles displaying clearly defined fruit characters. The aim of these different ranges is to meet the market demands, nationally and internationally of varying price points, and winestyles, with quality that exceeds expectations. The Reserve Range are produced in limited quantities only when the fruit quality is exceptional. The Gimblett Road Range and Roys Hill Range are produced in commercial quantities in very consistent styles from vintage to vintage.
The Gimblett Road region lies on the old Ngaruroro riverbed, the free draining shingle combined with the silt soils tend to increase soil temperature and to reflect the sun onto the grapes during the day. The region has its own micro climate with Roys Hill blocking the prevailing winds and cloud formation, the heat retention effectively means a different categorisation from the "cool climate" definition used for the broader New Zealand wine industry. The consequences are an extending of the ripening process and fruit characteristics of the wine CJ Pask being a genuine estate grown producer from only the Gimblett Road site, with integrated Viticulture, Production, Winemaking and Marketing resources ensure that the opportunities of Gimblett Road are reflected in the final product.
A relatively young but extremely promising wine-producing country, New Zealand is widely recognized for distinctive, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc. While this is indeed the country’s most planted and successful variety, it is certainly not the only one that is capable of delighting wine lovers—and in a very wallet-friendly manner, at that. The world’s most southerly vineyards are found here, with significant climatic variation both between and within the warmer North Island and the cooler South Island. Overall, the climate is maritime, with plenty of rainfall as well as abundant sunshine. Producers have almost unilaterally embraced cutting-edge winery technology, resulting in clean, high-quality wines at every price point.
Sauvignon Blanc is at its best in Marlborough but thrives throughout the nation, known for its trademark herbaceous and vegetal character. This pungent, aromatic variety accounts for an overwhelming majority of the country’s exports. Chardonnay is the second-most important white variety and takes on a supple texture and citrus and tropical fruit aromas in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, respectively. Pinot Noir, trailing behind Sauvignon Blanc in national production numbers, is at its best in Central Otago, the southernmost winegrowing region in the world. These wines are known for bright, juicy red fruit. Taking cues from the wines of Alsace, aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer shine in Martinborough, while red Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have found success in Hawke’s Bay. Throughout New Zealand but especially in Marlborough, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are used to produce traditional method sparkling wine.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.