The first 20/20 pts wine goes to… Tony Bish Skeetfield Chardonnay 2019

08-Apr-2021

What should a 20/20 points wine taste like? I didn't know until I tasted it. It was quite an experience!

It was pretty, punchy, seamless, elegant and then some. It moved and changed on the palate, and was beautifully intriguing as it continued to open up. At first, I scored it 19.5+/20 pts because there's no such thing as a perfect wine, I had marked it down a little, to allow some room for improvement. But then, I had an epiphany, and I thought this is actually so bloody perfect this might be the one! Why am I marking it down?

I tasted a bit more; going through the notes with my palate, and finally concluded that I could not fault it. It was an exciting moment when I realised... this is my first 20/20 point wine!

I am not surprised to be awarding my first 20/20 points to a Tony Bish wine.  Tony has long been regarded as a Chardonnay master, known for his work establishing famous Chardonnays like Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay. I first learned about Tony and his way with Chardonnay twenty years ago when I was working at Spoon by Alain Ducasse in the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong. And come to think of it, that might also be the first time I met Tony!

Tony has a consistent winemaking style, avoiding excessive overt oak toastiness, keeping sulphides and malo in check. He prefers Taransaud French oak barriques and most wines went through 100% malolactic fermentation. The most important element is to allow the vineyard remains the hero. I found Tony's wines have great energy, seamless acidity and a silky flow of creaminess that's never too obvious, but always present in just the right amount.

Tony Bish Wines produces six Chardonnays.

  • Fat & Sassy was the first of the range (first vintage - 2013). It's a very affordable, great quality, delicious everyday Chardonnay.
  • The Golden Egg (first vintage -2015) is made in 1600 L concrete egg-shaped fermenters.
  • Skeetfield, (first vintage 2015) the fruit comes from old, dry-farmed Mendoza clone fruit from Denis Gunn’s vineyard in the Ohiti district of Hawke’s Bay, 100% barrel-fermented and aged in new and seasoned Taransaud French oak. A higher portion of new oak than Heartwood.
  • Heartwood, the fruit from Bridge Pa Triangle, also 100% barrel-fermented and aged in new and seasoned Taransaud French oak, made from the heartwood of Quercus Rober French oak.
  • Zen (first vintage - 2017) Skeetfield block fruit fermented in the one and only French oak ovum egg in the country and new Taransaud French oak barriques.
  • Skin In The Game is the most recent Chardonnay added to the range. This wine sees minimal handling – fermented with skin contact and aged in concrete egg.

Here I reviewed the brilliant vintage of 2019 of Skeetfield Chardonnay, the first wine I’ve ever awarded 20/20 points (Tony's first 20/20 too!). You can also find my reviews for the 2019 Golden Egg and Zen, both superb expressions of the vintage as well.

https://tonybishwines.co.nz/


FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW

  • Tony Bish Skeetfield Chardonnay 2019, Hawke’s Bay
  • Tony Bish Golden Egg Chardonnay 2019, Hawke’s Bay
  • Tony Bish ZEN Chardonnay 2019, Hawke’s Bay

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