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Te Awa Chardonnay 2001
In 1992 the Lawson family, longtime grape growers, purchased their property on the corner of Ngatarawa Road and State Highway 50 with the express interest of growing premium grapes and making fine wine, especially the Bordeaux varieties. The land, subdivided from the original Longlands station stretches through from Ngatarawa Road to Gimblett Road now recognised as part of the Gimblett Gravels Wine Growing District. The area has the reputation for reaching Summer temperatures far above the Hawke's Bay average and have produced some of New Zealand's most sought after Cabernet, Merlots and Chardonnay wines.
The vineyard itself comprises just 46 hectares. Much of the skill - all of the quality of our wine - comes from a deep understanding of the rich diversity of soils that permeate through this small area. The diversity allows us to make a selection of supreme quality wines - rich in character, complexity, and, above all, sheer enjoyment.
Our philosophy is to achieve balanced wines, reflecting the grapes from which they are made, and having the individuality of our vineyard site - our "terroir". To realise our aim no recipe approach to winemaking is used, as grapes from specific parts of the vineyard have differing potential. To express their character, individual and often unique handling is required.
Each parcel of grapes is fermented separately and constant visual, tactile and tasting assessment throughout the fermentation and maceration are the tools we use when decision making. Having achieved the grapes potential, careful blending is the next stage. We look for a synergistic affect, i.e. when the sum is greater than the individual parts.
A relatively young but extremely promising wine-producing country, New Zealand is widely recognized for its distinctive wines made from the aromatic, Sauvignon blanc. While this is indeed the country’s most planted and successful variety, it is certainly not the only New Zealand grape 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, known here for its trademark herbaceous character, is at its best in Marlborough but thrives throughout the nation, accounting 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, second behind Sauvignon blanc in national production numbers, is at its best in Central Otago—the moust southerly winegrowing region in the world! These wines are known for bright and 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 wines.
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.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay 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.
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.
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. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.