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Chardonnay & Brightwater Vineyards – 14.08.14

It is the time of year the floodgates are eased open spilling the wines from the latest vintage into the market place; it is a time of year I look forward to with relish because I get to try the end result of all of the fresh pressed grape juice I tasted earlier in the year.

Producing wine and selling it in a very crowded market place is a challenge for all wineries as they strive to get a fair value for the effort they put in to growing the very best grapes to make the very best wine they can and part of that production-sales dynamic is making sure they have wines the market wants. Not so many years ago we saw the rise of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) rebellious bunch and many chardonnay producers stopped making it, pulled out the vines and planted far less sophisticated varieties, mainly pinot gris.

Consumers are fickle beasts and accordingly we now see the rise again of demand for chardonnay and in Nelson we are lucky enough to have some of the very best producers in our back yard – Neudorf Vineyards are arguably New Zealand’s finest producers, Greenhough Vineyards make an elegant chardonnay while Kahurangi Estate and Rimu Grove both produce a rich, bold style.

One producer who has changed to meet the market and has continued to refine the exciting range of wines they produce is Brightwater Vineyards. Not only do they make gold medal and trophy winning wines across a number of varieties (Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) they have recently added a Pinot Noir Rose to their portfolio.

Brightwater Vineyards 2009 Lord Rutherford Barrique Fermented Chardonnay was judged as the champion wine in show at the 2012 Royal Easter Wine Show and owners Gary and Valley Neale along with viticulturist Dale Springer and winemaker Tony Southgate have put in a huge effort to ensure following vintages meet the high standard consumers have come to expect. The latest release of this wine has been nurtured in the winery for a couple of years and I think is one of the very best I have seen from them.

But before we get to chardonnay I should tell you about ‘Sophies Kiss Rose’ (RRP$20). Brightwater Vineyards only made about 80 cases of this wine and the same effort went into growing the fruit and making the wine as went into their premium Pinot Noir and it shows in the finished wine. The colour has a very pale raspberry/red rose hue and the aromas have a very attractive powdery river-stone character. The wine tastes dry but has a small amount of residual sugar that gives the mouthfeel a delicious fullness. This is an outstanding wine and you can expect it to get many five star rating, including from me.

Brightwater Vineyards 2013 Lord Rutherford Barrique Chardonnay (RRP$40) is a very generous wine. This is a fleshy, mouthfilling wine that is complex and balanced. Flavours meander from soft peach with a hint of cream to elegant butterscotch characters all bound together with ripe acidity that gives the wine a wonderful long finish. This is another five star wine that deserves price tag above $50, an absolute bargain at $40.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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