The ‘other white’ varietals came next, I was impressed with the style of The Elder Pinot Gris 2011, showing a well-handled off-dry style with excellent oaking interest and stylish textures. Also making its mark was the Margrain Chenin Blanc 2010, dry, lithe and slippery with a lovely lime and floral lift. The Escarpment Pinot Blanc 2010 is more nutty and oxidative, showing barrel-work textures and a departure from the tank-made earlier releases. The Dry River Viognier 2010 is another wine with a difference, carrying some residual sugar, but the finesse of mouthfeel and brightness of exotic fruit aromas and flavours is first-rate. And while not challenging the great examples from the Hunter Valley, TheCabbage Tree Semillon 2009 shows ripeness and absolutely no herbaceousness, and a subtle, satisfying vinosity.
The Chardonnays were a strong group, the wines needing some time to open out in the glass to show how much had been built into them. On first taste, they certainly looked tight and closed, The Nga Waka Chardonnay 2010 is a full, rich and bold, mouthfilling wine that manages to keep a sense of restraint by a whisker. More European with its quieter expression is The Cabbage Tree Chardonnay 2009, dry, with nutty oak. The Palliser Estate Chardonnay 2009 is a contemporary example, elegant, stonefruit and complex reduction in just the right amount, and becoming more lush and serious in the glass. And a more traditional, ‘old-fashioned’ wine, the Te Kairanga ‘Runholder’ Chardonnay 2008, warm, nutty, and very toasty, made in an oxidative, complex style.