Matawhero ‘Irwin’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2016

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

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