(2023) From the Terraces vineyard which is clay over an old gravel riverbed, this green-flecked wine is a barrel selection that was whole bunch pressed into French oak barriques (30% new), and matured on lees for 11 months with only occasional stirring. A really inviting nose with plenty of flinty reduction and hazelnut richness, it immediately has a concentrated feel. On the palate that is borne out with zest lemon fruit that fairly skips along, but the flinty, stony edge of precision is there, as is the support of the oak, a touch of phenolic grip, and mouthwatering, pithy acidity. Delicious. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2023) Barrel-fermented in 100% French oak barriques. Plenty of everything in this wine, lots of toast and smoky flint, a tangerine-like citrus character. On the palate there's a surge of tropical fruit, notes of mango and pineapple, but then a firmness builds, the acid pithy and dry, the stony, river stone character adding to that. The relatively dry and strict finish prevents any danger of this being cloying.
(2023) From Pahoke soils, a shale-like sedimentary rock, this single vineyard wine is pressed directly to barrel and fermented with wild yeast. It's certainly a wine shaped by its flinty, complex sulphide character, toasty and mineral, nutty oak and juicy yellow apple beneath. The palate is grippy and serious, pithy grapefruit seizing the initiative over the swirl of toast and salty minerals into a long, intense finish.
(2023) Smith & Sheth have undoubtedly hit the ground running since their inauguration less than a decade ago with a formidable and impressive range. This comes from a dry-farmed vineyard of 20-year-old vines in Bridge Pa, with silty loam over gravel and limestone. Fermented in 83% new and older French oak barriques, with wild yeasts and full malolactic. It's a nutty and bold style this, less of the flinty sulphidic influence, and more of the cream and toast of the barrel married to exuberantly ripe fruit. There is precision and a Cru Chablis feel about this. In the mouth the weight and texture are again treading their own path among flintier wines here, though there is a mineral salts character joining the lemon peel zest of the finish. Power and precision.
(2022) Hand-picked, whole bunch pressed, with natural ferment and 100% malo-lactic fermentation, this was aged in barrel for 8 months, all French oak and around one third new. Butterscotch and light toast on the nose over subtle flint and ripe pear and nutty apple. In the mouth this has lovely poise and a real sense of elegance. It has all the concentration and weight of leesy texture of any of the wines here, but retains a limpid sense of precision and creamy finesse as well as copious, juicy fruit ripeness. No UK retail stockists listed at time of review.
(2021) This single vineyardÂ Chardonnay comes from the La Collina vineyard, planted in 2001, and it is a taut, mineral-flecked example, for me very nicely pitched as an elegant, intense wine, with just a touch of flintiness on one hand, and just a touch of ripe tropicality on the other, but while showing facets of both, neither dominates as creamy almond and savoury apple and lemon fruit push through a long finish.
(2021) Launched with the 2018 vintage, this is Askerne's top Chardonnay, grown on stoney, sandy soils with yields lowered, whole bunch and barrel-fermented, all French oak and 45 % new, where it aged on the lees for 11 months. What a lovely nose,Â smoky and nutty, creamy and suffused with ripe stone fruits, and a beautifully judged gunflint aspect that is quite Burgundian. In the mouth I really like the balance, with a great lemony cut of acidity scything through that burgeoning ripe fruit, but the oak and that flinty minerality always squeezing and propelling the wine forward. My first experience with this producer, and a hugely impressive one.
(2021) Ungrafted vines of the Mendoza Chardonnay clone were whole-bunch pressed and fermented in French oak barrels, 80% of which were new. The lees were stirred regularly over 12 months ageing in barrel. What a truly delightful nose this has, buttery and Brazil nut creaminess, fat lemony fruit and, some exotic spicy smokiness and a lovely sense of depth. In the mouth it is mouth-filling and full-textured, a glycerine rich weight of fruit concentration, but always agile, always bright and defined beautifully by its acidity, more of that butteriness into the finish. Gorgeous wine, generous and giving, but never over-stepping the mark. No UK retail stockists listed at time of review.
(2021) From the Te Awanga sub-region close to the coast, this is made from the Mendoza clone of Chardonnay and fermented and aged in French oak. There's a bit of flint here, but bags of juicy and intense grapefruit, some buttery, quite Meursault-like characters. On the palate the partial ferementation with wild yeasts adds a lightly earthy, creamy layer, the fruit is very ripe but more in the juicy ripe apple and stone-fruit spectrum, some toastiness and again that fresh creamery butter touch into a long finish. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2021) What a lovely wine this is from Villa Maria, from a vineyard planted in 1999, the nose is not shy of almond and oatmeal creamy oak, but the definite flinty character is well judged against grapefruit and more tropical, peachy fruit. On the palate racing acidity scythes a path through the buttery and nutty oak and the intense concentration of fruit. Glittering and concentrated stuff.