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Esk Valley Chardonnay 2011

  • WE91
  • WW90
750ML / 13.4% ABV
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  • JS91
  • WE90
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3.5 12 Ratings
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3.5 12 Ratings
750ML / 13.4% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The fruit for this wine is sourced from vineyard sites around the Hawkes Bay. Vineyards in the north at Bay View provide the finished wine with ripe tropical fruit flavours while sites on the terraces above the Tutaekuri River at Puketapu add a more flinty, grapefruit note. These sites also provide a natural acidity to the blended wine. Shoot thinning, leaf plucking and bunch thinning are all practiced in these vineyards in the pursuit of quality.

This is a full bodied yet elegant style of Hawkes Bay Chardonnay exhibiting aromas of peach and melon intermingled with hints of butter, grapefruit and French oak spice.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
This terrific value delivers roasted cashews and grilled peaches in a remarkably elegant, restrained package. It’s just-right in terms of weight on the palate, neither too light nor too heavy, with a crisp, citrusy finish. Editors' Choice
WW 90
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com
Medium yellow color; dried, brown leaves and peach fuzz in the nose, very good depth; medium bodied, lively on the palate; dry, nice acidity, well balanced; lively citrus and apples in the flavors; medium finish.
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Esk Valley

Esk Valley

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Esk Valley, New Zealand
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The Esk Valley winery is situated in the north of New Zealand's picturesque Hawkes Bay. The winery sources fruit from Hawkes Bay, including the world-renowned Gimblett Gravels – one of New Zealand’s most distinctive wine regions – as well as Marlborough. Both regions consistently produce grapes of an extremely high quality. Esk Valley is famous for its premium cult wine "The Terraces", which is only released those years when the terraced vines on the banks above the winery produce an exceptional vintage. You don’t have to dig deep to get the picture – the soil; uniquely stratified layers of shell, hard clay and volcanic ash are clearly visible in the terraced hillside. The sheltered north-facing slopes possess a mild micro-climate well-suited for the production of high-quality grapes. These stunning vineyards, with a breathtaking backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, can be viewed from the cellar door.

Esk Valley is a boutique winery, but it is unique in that many of the techniques used to craft its award-winning wines are dictated by the winery itself. The old concrete vats, the layout of the buildings, and the absence of modern technology mean the people at Esk Valley have had to make wine in a simple, honest, hands-on way. Winemaker Gordon Russell has established himself as one of New Zealand's most recognized winemaking personalities with his passionate approach to winemaking, and the enormous success he has achieved with his wines in tastings and competitions. Gordon believes that the concept of 'texture' in a wine is as important as the aromas and flavors of the wine. By 'texture' he means the balance and harmony of the wine, together with complexity and palate interest. Hand-plunging with wooden plungers is one of the manual techniques he employs in his pursuit of texture – a method used only by a fraction of New Zealand wineries. Old-school winemaking results in wines with old-world flavor profiles – and with a suave, perfumed Sauvignon Blanc, a very Burgundian Chardonnay and a very Bordeaux-like red blend, Esk Valley offers something different than many other New Zealand wineries.

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An eclectic region on the east coast of the North Island, Hawkes Bay extends from wide, fertile, coastal plains, inland, to the coast range, whose peaks reach as high as 5,300 feet. While the flatter areas were historically more popular because they are easier to cultivate, their alluvial soils can be too fertile for vines. In the late 20th century, the drive for quality led growers to the hills where soils are free-draining, limestone-rich and more suited to producing high quality wines.

Over the passing of time, the old Ngaruroro River laid down deep, gravelly beds, which were subsequently exposed after a huge flood in the 1860’s. In the 1980s growers identified this stretch, which continues for approximately 800 ha, and named it the Gimblett Gravels. The zone has proven to be ideal for the production of excellent red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

Today the area takes well-earned recognition for its Bordeaux blends and other reds. Expressive of intense stewed red and black berry with gentle herbaceous characters, Gimblett Gravels wines are suggestive of their cool climate origin, and on par with other top-notch Bordeaux blends around the globe.

Chardonnay is the top white grape in Hawkes Bay, making elegant wines, strong in stone fruit character. Sauvignon blanc comes in close behind, notable for its tropical, fruit forward qualities.

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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

Tasting Notes for Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a dry, white wine. When Chardonnay grapes are planted on cool sites, the resulting wine's flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.

Perfect Food Pairings for Chardonnay

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.

Sommelier Secrets for Chardonnay

Since the 1980s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy this lighter style.

SWS325507_2011 Item# 130422

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