£15.99–£18.99, New Zealand House of Wine, winedirect, The Vinorium
I've never fallen out of love with Chardonnay. There were always good Chablis and other white burgundies to keep me going when California and Australian Chardonnays became too ripe/fat/buttery/oaky and when Australia then went the other way with some overly lean, ascetic wines. But now I'm spoilt for choice and loving where Australia has got to with its cool-climate Chardonnays. And New Zealand, too.
The single-vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay from Marlborough was part of a virtual tasting I did last week, organised jointly by Wine Australia and New Zealand Wine Growers. It showcased Chardonnays from three regions each in New Zealand and Australia. What linked them, apart from sheer quality, was the cooling influence of the Southern Ocean and to a lesser extent the Pacific Ocean.
I could have chosen any of the six wines for this slot, give or take one sample that was a bit iffy – an occupational hazard with decanted small sample bottles. I've picked the Taylors Pass because I loved its combination of textural depth and linearity, layers of subtle flavours and coiled-spring energy, and because it's strikingly good value.
The vineyard is 15km from the ocean on the Awatere River and the wine has a sea-fresh, salty green-apple note, candied-lime intensity, delicate peach flesh and creaminess and mouthwatering stoniness and acidity. It was fermented in oak (49% wild yeast) and matured for 10 months in French oak barriques and puncheons (35% new) with minimal stirring.
There are so many things you could drink this with, but what about saffron risotto, creamy fish pie, shellfish, salmon, sformata, pasta with ricotta and lemon, vegetable or seafood gratin, roast chicken or Comté cheese. 13.5%.
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2018, Marlborough, New Zealand