Clearview Estate 2017 Te Awanga Chardonnays
Although Clearview Estate produces a full range of varietal and styled wines, Chardonnay is what it is best known for. Planting their vineyards at Te Awanga in 1986, Tim Turvey and Helma van den Berg quickly became known for their ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay made from Mendoza clone fruit, given the full works with ripe fruit, barrel-fermentation and plenty of toasty oak maturation and MLF. The wines won many awards at shows and magazine tastings, and in the early days, our allocation at Regional Wines & Spirits for the ‘Cuisine’ ‘Top 10’ tastings was only two bottles of tasting stock, which we paid full price for, with nothing to sell. Things eventually eased up, and our allocation for retail sales grew to 6 bottles in addition to the tasting stock!
Today, the Clearview ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay remains one of the country’s most respected, and the wine continues to win gold medals and trophies at wine shows for its rich, fulsome and complex flavours and style. There have been many calls for the Clearview ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay to be made more modern and elegant, and indeed, it shows more finesse and balance than ever. But just as a counterpoint, Tim Turvey introduced the super-premium ‘Endeavour’ Chardonnay which harks back to all the traditional high-quality attributes that made the ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay what it was at the beginning, and in fact, takes it beyond into where Tim then only dreamed he could go. The ‘Endeavour’ Chardonnay is a full-on wine which is truly a statement of place, variety, winemaking and style (click here to see my review of the 2015 ‘Endeavour’ Chardonnay).
Just to prove that it’s not black and white with Chardonnay at Clearview Estate, Tim and Helma’s winemakers Matt Kirby and Rob Bregmen have created a broad range of Chardonnays to show they also have the grey areas covered. Here, I review five 2017 vintage Clearview Chardonnays that range from fruit-focussed, very traditional (old-fashioned), a wine with restrained, but serious inputs, a foray into the complex sulphide reduction, and the modern, rich and complex ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay it is after 30 years of evolution. www.clearviewestate.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Clearview ‘Coastal’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017Chardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 12-May-2018Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, pale edged. The nose is fresh and bright with good depth of white and yellow stonefruit aromas. The nose opens in volume, showing nuances of nutty oak, some minerally lees and saline elements. This possesses freshness and clarity. Medium-bodied, the palate features a rounded core of yellow stonefruits intermingling with flavours of nuts and minerals and distinctive saline nuances. The mouthfeel is softly fresh with fine, lacy acidity lending good poise and tension as the wine carries to a clean, lingering, stonefruited finish. This is a softly fresh, fruit-focussed Chardonnay with a rounded core of yellow stonefruits with nutty, mineral and saline interest. Serve with seafood over the next 3+ years. Te Awanga fruit fermented in tank with approx. 30% in barrel to 12.8% alc., the wine aged 5 months in seasoned oak on lees with batonnage and 100% MLF. 17.5-/20 May 2018 RRP $21.00 Full, even, light golden-hued yellow colour. The nose is fresh with well-concentrated aromas of yellow stonefruits and stonefruit pith notes harmoniously interwoven with a nutty overlay of lees and oak elements. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegant core of yellow stonefruits entwines with nutty lees and oak. The palate has good presence with rounded and smooth mouthfeel, soft-textured and gentle drive. The flavours carry to a subtly flavoured finish. This is an elegant and gently concentrated Chardonnay with yellow stonefruits and soft lees and nutty oak notes on a smooth and soft palate with good drive. Match with poultry and pork over the next 3+ years. Te Awanga fruit fermented in tank with approx. 30% in barrel to 12.8% alc., the wine aged 5 months in seasoned oak on lees with batonnage and 100% MLF. 17.5-/20 Jan 2018 RRP $21.00
Clearview ‘White Caps’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017Chardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 12-May-2018Bright, full golden-yellow colour with some depth. The nose is full and voluminous with softly packed aromas of ripe tropical fruit and yellow stonefruits with a powerful overlay of sweet, lifted toasty oak along with lifted nutty notes and hints of butterscotch and caramel. This is fulsome and oak dominant. Medium-bodied, the palate is upfront and broad with mouthfilling, flavours of ripe tropical fruit and yellow stonefruits, along with a strong overlay of oak vanillins and toast. The flavours and mouthfeel show a creaminess and butteriness which adds to the palate richness. The mouthfeel possesses a steely acid cut and edge for balance, and the wine carries with some underlying power to a firm, elegant, lingering finish. This is a full, up-front and bold Chardonnay with flavours of tropical fruit overlaid by sweet, toasty oak with buttery elements balanced by acid cut. Serve with grilled and roasted pork over the next 3 years. A wine that recreates "the excesses of the 1980s”. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and mostly tank-fermented with oak alternatives to 13.4% alc. and 3 g/L RS, the wine given 60% new, high toast equivalence, with batonnage and 100% MLF. 16.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $25.00
Clearview ‘Beachhead’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017Chardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 12-May-2018Bright, full, even, light golden-yellow colour. The nose is fresh and aromatic with ripe yellow stonefruits, citrus fruit and tropical fruit notes harmoniously entwined with a layer of creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak, along with subtle nuances of complexing flintiness. This shows lovely balance. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich with mouthfilling flavours of ripe tropical fruit and yellow stonefruits melded with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak, unfolding a little toast and flint and butterscotch MLF elements. The palate is luscious with a rounded heart and integrated acidity, the flavours revealing more detail and interest as the wine flows a fine-textured line. The wine carries to a long, lingering finish of citrus fruit, nuts and oak toast. This is a harmonious and balanced, mouthfilling Chardonnay with rich, ripe stonefruit and tropical fruits with creamy, nutty oak and complex, layered detailing. Match with roasted and grilled poultry, pork and veal over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP, and fully barrel-fermented to 13.2% alc., the wine aged 9 months in 1 y.o. and 2 y.o. French oak with batonnage and 100% MLF. 18.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $27.00
Clearview ‘Three Rows’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017Chardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 12-May-2018Bright golden yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is very firm and solidly concentrated with deep and dense aromas of white and yellow stonefruits entwined with a layering of complexing gunflinty reduction, along with nutty lees and toasty oak and a whiff of smoke. This has considerable complexity. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a rich and concentrated core of white and yellow stonefruits intermixed with smoky and toasty oak and a fulsome layer of complexing gunflint and matchstick reduction. The flavours are deep and intense and unfold ti fill the mouth. The textures are fine and the acidity is lacy and the wine carries to a flinty and toasty finish. This is a rich and concentrated Chardonnay with complex layers of gunflint and nutty, toasty oak on a fine-textured palate. Match with grilled and barbecued poultry and pork dishes over the next 4+ years. A mix of clones with 95, 6 and Mendoza, younger vines around 12 y.o., fully barrel-fermented with high solids to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 40% new oak with no batonnage and approx. 80% MLF. 18.5/20 May 2018 RRP $36.00
Clearview ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017Chardonnay from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 12-May-2018Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is soft and harmoniously presented with elegant and fragrant aromas of ripe white and yellow stonefruits along with a fine thread of creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak, nuances of gunflint reductive complexities, all entwined with butterscotch suggestions. This has aromatic finesse. Medium-full bodied, the palate is softly full with lush, plush and harmonious fruit flavours of yellow stonefruits, tropical fruits and citrus fruits, along with a soft layer of creamy barrel-ferment with subtle toasty oak notes and nuances of flint and buttery MLF. The flavours and integrated and balanced and the mouthfeel is smooth with fine acidity lending poise and energy. The wine carries to a very long and sustained finish. This is a beautifully full and rich, plush Chardonnay with harmoniously integrated flavours of tropical fruit, creamy and nutty oak with subtle butteriness on a smooth palate. Match with poultry, pork and veal dishes over the next 5+ years. Mendoza clone fruit from the ‘Main’ and ‘East’ blocks, fully barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 44% new French oak with fortnightly batonnage and 100% MLF. 19.0-/20 May 2018 RRP $45.00