Matawhero Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2020 and Church House Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2020
Kirsten and Richard Searle purchased Matawhero Wines from New Zealand pioneer winemaker Denis Irwin (founder of Matawhero) in 2008. The Searles have always tried to preserve the heritage they acquired with Matawhero Wines. They’ve 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.
The wines are made at the GisVin facility with Kim Crawford as the winemaker. The Searles have continued the innovative work of Denis Irwin with the regional and varietally-expressive ‘Matawhero’ range, the 'Single Vineyard', the small-parcels ‘Church House’, and the flagship ‘Irwin’ Chardonnay. All the three Chardonnays are made from Mendoza clone fruit from the well-regarded Tietjen vineyard on the ‘Golden Slopes’, in the Hexton Hills appellation of Gisborne. This narrow 10km strip is made up of small parcels of elevated sloping land. Medium to heavy Kaiti clay base is overlaid with 20-30cm of light black topsoil, with influences from the limestone foothills. The site has had a rich history of producing award-winning Chardonnay for over 20 years. The vines achieve good ripeness and with low yields come excellent flavours and weight to the fruit.
Matawhero's vineyards are 100% naturally dry-farmed; they grow grapes using natural rainfall and no irrigation. Good spring rainfall and a long dry summer combined with high moisture-holding soil types of silken clay and fine silt loams make dry-farming possible.
The 2020 vintage was considered a good one – the crop was up 17% from 2019 in the region. Early spring had higher than usual rainfall but settled in the late spring flowering period, producing healthy yields. A warm and dry summer followed by a cool and dry autumn led to ideal harvest conditions. This is reflected in the quality of the two Chardonnays I reviewed here: Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2020 and Church House Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2020 by Matawhero.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Matawhero Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2020, GisborneChardonnay from New Zealand - GisborneReview Date : 05-May-2021Bright, pale yellow, youthful, even colour throughout. The nose is vibrant, full of youthful freshness, the aroma of white peach, guava and citrus adorned by lighted roasted nut, fine-dusting spice, vanilla, and creamy lees. Medium-bodied, dry to taste, grapefruit and zest melded with guava, peach, soft grapefruit zest haul along a mineral stream, unfolding subtle spices, vanilla and toasted almonds. The wine has a clean and slender drive, emphasised delicate zest and spices; crunchy mineral and fine-textured phenolic added to the mouthfeel. This is a youthful, zesty Chardonnay with well-proportioned barrel complexity. Match with battered fish and seared scallops over the next 3-5 years. Fruit sourced from Tietjen's vineyard in the Hexton Hills (Gloden Slopes), dry-farmed, Medoza clone, machine-harvested, indigenous yeast fermented to 13% alc, partial MLF. Vegan friendly. 18+/20 pts (91 pts) May 2021 RRP $23.99
Matawhero Church House Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2020, GisborneChardonnay from New Zealand - GisborneReview Date : 17-May-2021Bright, even, pale yellow with some depth and a green hue. The nose is softly full, youthful aromas of lemon sherbet, pineapple melded with toasted nuts, crusty baguette and creamy lees are in well-proportions. Medium-full bodied, vibrant aromas of lemon, sherbet and pineapple entwined with buttered popcorn, baguette and toasted hazelnuts. Creamy lees haul along a chalky palate with excellent acid tension, lends a long, lively finish. The fruit has lovely concentration and acid balance; cleverly use of oak, enriched with a toasty nut element and a fulsome palate. This is a youthful, harmonious Chardonnay with great acid tension presented on a chalky palate, already delicious with excellent ageing potential. Match with pork chops and barbeque tiger prawns over the next 8 years. Fruit sourced from Tietjen's vineyard in the Hexton Hills (Gloden Slopes), dry-farmed, Medoza clone, machine-harvested portion fermented in tank, full MLF, 4 months on lees, then transferred to barrels for further ageing before blending. The handpicked portion was fermented in a combination of American and European barrels, full MLF. Vegan friendly. 19-/20 pts (95 pts) May 2021 RRP $31