Villa Maria ‘Keltern’ Chardonnay 2011

This is the follow-on wine to the mighty 2010 Villa Maria ‘Single Vineyard – Keltern' Hawke's Bay Chardonnay, which may be the most successful wine on the New Zealand wine judging circuit in recent times. This 2010 vintage wine has been awarded at least eleven trophies, including four ‘Champion Wine of the Show' trophies and four ‘Champion Chardonnay' trophies. The wine is a textbook of elegance and power, with those edgy, complex reductive struck-match characters which seem to be the rage on the show circuit in Australasia. I've tasted and consumed the wine on a number of occasions, and for my palate, I can see its brilliance, but on just the occasional situation, I find it a bit too much in its flintiness, the reductive notes seeming to dominate the fruit. It's clearly my mood and perception at the time, as the screwcap closure pretty much ensures consistency between bottles.

Villa Maria's senior winemaker Nick Picone sent to me the 2011 Villa Maria ‘Keltern' Chardonnay for my thoughts. It's from a challenging year for Chardonnay in Hawke's Bay. Some vineyards were in the wrong phase of development and the fruit was totally ruined by disease. Other Chardonnay vineyards were unscathed and have produced top wines. The ‘Keltern' site at Maraekakaho has proven to be one of Villa Maria's best performing, and in this vintage it was a success. In general, 2011 has produced Hawke's Bay Chardonnays with a more forward nature and lower alcohols, the latter a very desirable outcome considering the market's sensitivity to overly alcoholic wines. The 2010 and 2011 ‘Keltern' Chardonnays are both 13.5% alc. Here is my review of the 2011 follow-up to the magnificent 2010 ‘Keltern' Chardonnay wine. www.villamaria.co.nz

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