Featured Reviews

Three Californian Chardonnays from Niche Wines N.Z.

07 June,2018

Niche Wines N.Z. is the Auckland-based independent negociant wine business of Teresa Nobilo Healy and her husband David Healy. Teresa is from the famous pioneering New Zealand wine industry Nobilo family and was brought up with wine throughout her life. David is a very experienced wine industry person as well, previously with Moet-Hennessy for nearly a decade. Together they have strong contacts in the wine world. While the company has a New Zealand brand ‘Longhaul’, it is better known for its range of imported wines, especially Australian reds, a number of which have been extremely successful in New Zealand wine judging competitions. California is another area that the company works in. Here, I review three Californian Chardonnays brought in by Niche Wines N.Z. www.nichewinesnz.com


Cloud Break California Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from USA


Bright straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, a little pale edged. The nose is very fresh with moderately deep aromas of ripe tropical and citrus fruit lifted by subtle notes of oak vanillins and fresh fermentation esters. The aromatics are softly presented. Medium-bodied, the palate has softly aromatic, bright fruit flavours of tropical and citrus fruit with vanilla-like oak and some fresh fermentation esters. This is up-front and uncomplicated. The mouthfeel is rounded and balanced by lacy acidity, and the wine flows easily to a light, aromatic finish. This is a softly fresh, rounded Chardonnay with tropical and citrus fruit with some lifted oak and esters on an easy palate. Serve with most white meat dishes over the next 2+ years. Californian fruit fermented in stainless-steel and barrel-fermented with French and American oak to 13.5% alc. 16.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $17.99

Harken California Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from USA


Bright, even straw-yellow colour with light lemon-gold hues. The nose is initially a little restrained in expression, but unfolds to reveal an elegantly concentrated core of ripe tropical fruit and yellow stonefruits, along with subtle mealy elements, a little creamy barrel-ferment note and light’ lifted oak vanillins. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a rounded, but concentrated heart with well-packed flavours of tropical fruit and stonefruits with citrussy elements. Some creamy barrel-ferment adds to the richness along with nutty and vanilla-like oak. Some mealy and flinty detail emerges. Some alcoholic power underlines the palate, carrying the wine smoothly with good linearity to a rich finish. This is a rich, well-packed Chardonnay with ripe fruit flavours, enhanced by oak , showing some complexing detail on a palate with plenty of power and drive. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 3-4 years. Californian fruit fully barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 7 months in 80% American and 20% French oak, undergoing 100% MLF. 17.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $19.99

Austerity Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from USA


Brilliant light golden-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full with fresh aromas of ripe citrus and tropical fruit with subtle mealy detail harmoniously melded with creamy barrel-ferment elements and nutty oak. A flinty, steely edge lends freshness and vibrancy. Full-bodied, the palate has an elegantly concentrated and fine core of citrus fruit and tropical fruit, finely balanced by integrated creamy barrel-ferment notes with some lifted oak and flinty detail. The palate has a fres edge from the acidity and is underlined by alcoholic drive and power with carries the wine to a lingering, concentrated, sweetly oaked finish. This is a finely concentrated Chardonnay with ripe citrus and tropical fruit flavours with softly integrated oak and subtle flinty detail on a fresh, but powerfully driven palate. Match with poultry, pork and veal dishes over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from Arroyo Seco in the Salinas Valley, Monterey County, 50% fermented in stainless-steel, this portion given 8 months aging in 50% each French and American oak, the other 50% barrel-fermented and given 8 months aging in 65% French oak and 35% American oak. 14.5% alc. 17.5+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $24.99

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