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Matawhero ‘Irwin’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2016

30 August,2017
Kirsten and Richard Searle, who purchased Matawhero Wines in 2008, have released their inaugural ‘Irwin’ Chardonnay from the 2016 vintage, created to be their flagship wine. The wine is named as a tribute to the late Bill Irwin, pioneering grapegrower, and his son Denis, who founded Matawhero Wines. Both Irwins were ahead of their time, with Bill introducing and growing specialist table grape varieties such as Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay in a period when fortified wine production ruled in New Zealand. Denis built on his father’s lead and with him established the boutique Matawhero Wines in Gisborne, making wines that captured the world’s attention. It is well known that the 1978 Matawhero Gewurztraminer made its way into the cellars at Buckingham Palace. Denis was among the first winemakers in New Zealand to employ wild yeasts for fermentation, and barrel-fermentation for Chardonnay, along with the likes of Paul Mooney, Michael Brajkovich and John Hancock.

The Searles have always tried to preserve the heritage they acquired with Matawhero Wines, and maintain good contact with Denis Irwin. Since taking over, they have restored and re-opened the historic cellar door, and they continue to produce classical Gisborne wines with the spirit of innovation that the Irwins possessed. This ‘Irwin’ Chardonnay is made by the Matawhero winemaker Kim Crawford in the complex barrel-fermented style from Mendoza clone fruit from the well-regarded Tietjen vineyard on the ‘Golden Slopes’. Here is my review of the wine, to be released on 1 September. www.matawhero.co.nz


Matawhero ‘Irwin’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Bright, light golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, a little paler edged. The nose is softly voluminous with layers of aromatics showing yellow stonefruit and citrus fruit melded with complexing mealy notes, creamy barrel-ferment elements and a hint of lemon-curd and buttery MLF. The nose is rich, but has an underlying, youthful freshness. Medium-full bodied, this has rich, full and deep flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits, tropical fruits and citrus fruit entwined with complexing mealy and nutty oak and lees notes. The mouthfeel is rounded with the fruit extract providing a deep core, with weight, presence and fine textures. Fresh lacy acidity lends balance, and the wine carries with good vitality to a lingering finish of stonefruit, nuts, and nuances of butter. This is a rich, fulsome, complex-layered Chardonnay with stonefruit and citrus fruit flavours along with mealy and nutty detail and a thread of acid vitality. Serve with roast pork and rich creamy sauced poultry dishes over the next 5 years. Mendoza clone fruit from the ‘Tietjen’ vineyard on the ‘Golden Slopes’, vines planted 2013, fully barrel-fermented by natural yeasts using ‘pied de cuve’, to 13.4% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 30% new American and Hungarian oak barriques with 100% MLF. 3,449 bottles made. 19.0/20 Aug 2017 RRP $60.00
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