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Matua Valley Judd Estate Chardonnay 2000
A rich and elegantly flavoured Chardonnay with hints of apple coconut and vanilla in the aroma and on the palate.
They began in a ragged tin shed in West Auckland, in 1974. The wines they released from that first vintage immediately placed them amongst the leading group of innovative winemakers. Chardonnay and Gamay Teinturier were not common varieties in New Zealand at that time, and it was the first time Sauvignon Blanc had ever been produced, but they were committed to a new way.
Within a year the success of these wines was being noted. In 1975, the "Burgundy" won the first competition trophy for Matua Valley at the Royal Easter Show. A less publicized triumph was the impression the Sauvignon Blanc had made amongst the other winemakers, leading to the decision to include large quantities of this variety in the first vineyards to be planted in the now famous Marlborough region. In 1976 a new company, Matua Valley Wines Ltd was formed in partnership with another Auckland family, the Margans.
The new foundation allowed Matua Valley to put down more substantial roots, and in 1977, 25 hectares of land was purchased in the beautiful green Waikoukou Valley, 35 kilometers west of Auckland. A new winery was built on the crest of a low ridge overlooking the valley, and the first steps made towards landscaping gardens and establishing a visitors’ center were made. In 2016, the winery was very happy to announce Greg Rowdon as the Chief Winemaker after an 18 year relationship with Matua.
An icon and leading region of New Zealand's distinctive style of Sauvignon blanc, Marlborough has a unique terroir, making it ideal for high quality grape production (of many varieties). Despite some common generalizations, which could be fairly justified given that Marlborough is responsible for 90% of New Zealand's Sauvignon blanc production, the wines from this region are actually anything but homogenous. At the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, the vineyards of Marlborough benefit from well-draining stony soils, a dry, sunny climate and wide temperature fluctuations between day and night, a phenomenon that supports a perfect balance between berry ripeness and acidity.
The region’s king variety, Sauvignon blanc, is beloved for its pungent, aromatic character with notes of exotic tropical fruit, freshly cut grass and green bell pepper along with a refreshing streak of stony minerality. These wines are made in a wide range of styles, and winemakers take advantage of various clones, vineyard sites, fermentation styles, lees-stirring and aging regimens to differentiate their bottlings, one from one another.
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.