(2023) Whole bunch pressed, this was part barrel-fermented, followed by barrel maturation in 46% new oak for around one year. There's plenty of toast here, the flinty character is there too, if less overt than some, crunchy and nutty apple blends with that toasty barrel character. In the mouth real sweetness and juiciness of fruit. There's a big and tangy core of orange and lemon/lime acidity that is quite rounded but decisive. Along with that nutty undertow of the toasty oak, it's a textured and full, approachable style. No UK retail stockists listed at time of review.
(2023) One of the most elegant and well-mannered wines here, not chasing too much 'flint' or sweet fruited ripeness. Interestingly, the only wine under natural cork and sealed with wax. This comes from 25-year-old vines planted on gravel in the Heretaunga Plains. Wild fermentation lasted three weeks and after malolactic fermentation it spent 10 months in mainly old french barrels. Baked apple pie, peach and lime aromas are rounded, clear and crisp. There's a light kaolin earthiness. In the mouth the fruit flits between limey, fat citrus and a more exotic nectarine and mango, but then the core of acid here powers through. The oak plays a very intelligent supporting role, never dominating but coaxing the wine into a lightly grippy, nutty finish.
(2023) Fewer than 600 bottles of this Chardonnay from the gravel soils of the Bridge Pa Triangle where made, the vineyard in conversion to organic farming. Fermented in French oak with wild yeast, it spent nine months on the lees and did not undergo malolactic. Gravelly and creamy at the same time, there's a touch of toasty hazelnut and plenty of ripe stone fruit and apple, and edge of flint. In the mouth there's a breadth and chewiness to the texture, the fruit still in that yellow plum and peach, and ripe juicy red apple spectrum. Good balance here, a lovely cleansing acid core, and a long finish showing just a hint of nuttiness and spice. No UK stockists at time of review.
(2023) Aurulent made the best of Hawke's Bay selection in 2019 and 2020, and I really like the wine both times. This 2021 follows up in style. Aged in French oak barrels for 11 months, 30% new, there's a touch of Brazil nut on the nose, a light yeasty film over ripe, but precise fruit, and yes, a flinty touch of leesy reduction to add some mineral tang. In the mouth there's plenty of flavour here: it's not shy or retiring, having a buttery and peachy sense of lusciousness on the mid-palate, but all the time the gently mealy and nutty oak, the firm citrus pith acid line and touch of grippiness to the texture anchor the wine in savoury style. And it's delicious.
(2023) This was whole-bunch pressed, then fermented and aged 12 months in French oak, 20% new. Delightful nose, striking the perfect balance between a spangle brightness of fruit, hint of flint and luscious mango in the background. Oak influence is understated. The palate tensions considerably with a taut line of acidity that is all lemons and salts, but it cleaves through those more opulent, juicy, peachy and almost tropical fruit flavours. Lovely. Price and stockist quoted are for a previous vintage at time of review.
(2022) A selection of the best fruit from the Middle Road Chardonnay block was barrel fermented, with malolactic fermentation and around 33% of the French oak barrels were new. A lot of minty, elegant freshness here - more minty than toasty - with a certain precision to the citrus and pear fruit. In the mouth there's plenty of pithy lemon to give sharpness, in a wine that's much more about steely, flinty precision than opulence, but that's definitely not to say it lacks generosity or flesh.
(2022) 59% of the blend is the Mendoza clone, grown on sandy silt soils. The juice was transferred to French barriques for fermentation, both wild and inoculated ferments. Full malolactic and ageing for 12 months with lees stirring, the final blend had 40% new oak. Toasty, nutty with a twist of peat-smoked whisky, the palate is powerfully concentrated, and though the oak of the nose is present, there's substance and flinty intensity to counter that, with powerful acid structure too. This is on the borderline of being too muscular and oaky for me, but I suspect a year or so in bottle will sort a lot of that out. No UK retailers listed at time of review.
(2021) From the Limeworks block, this was feremented and spent around 11 months in oak barrels (20% of which was new American oak). Cashew, crushed almond and oatmeal on the nose, there's a generosity and inviting ripeness to this, only 12.5% alcohol, but a peachy fruit character as well as lime. On the palate the oak is very nicely handled, just adding a nutty and creamy flavour and texture, but the freshness and poise of the fruit is elegant and quite delicious. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2021) There's no mistaking the barrel fermentation and 10 months in new French oak here, toast, Brazil nuts and coffee, butter and golden ripe fruit to the fore. In the mouth there's citrus and fleshy nectarine, a grapefruit and orange zest pushing the finish. It's well made and a confident style, though for me the oak is slightly too prominent - at this stage at least. Price and UK stockist quoted is for an older vintage at time of review.