Esk Valley Chardonnay 2011
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.
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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.
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.
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 it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.