(2021) Classic barrel-fermented Chardonnay first produced in 1989, this vintage seeing bine months in barrel, 30% new French oak and full malolactic. Loads of almond and crushed oatmeal, and interesting nutty notes, toast and spices, but the fruit is nicely judged - on the palate it becomes quite peachy and succulent, the fruit and a very nice pithy lemon and lime acidity giving cut but generosity too. This is a nicely pitched Chardonnay, creamy and quite hedonistic, but with a bit of steel at its core.
(2021) Albariño vines were first planted in 2007, with the first release in 2010. There's a nice combination of fresh pear and more peachy fruit here, lightly touched by honey. On the palate there is a sweeter tone that a typical Galician wine, more texture and lusciousness too. Not so saline and crisp as a typical Spanish wine, but has a larger-scaled and sweet presence that is a different but very lovely expression of Albariño.
(2021) Larry McKenna's Pinot Gris sees a little oak, and has a very pleasantly spicy, lightly floral aroma, the fruit being quite rich and deep: more baked apples and pears, some tarte tatin pastry notes too. In the mouth the sweetness of a little residual sugar emphasises the luscious fruit, lots of succulent nectaring leads to fine citrus, acid slices through rather beautifully.
(2021) A small proportion of this is aged in Acacia wood barrels, which perhaps adds to the intense florality of the nose, a really expressive take on Viognier that verges on Gewürztraminer aromatics, and makes sense of the pairing with the Te Whare Ra 'Toru'. In the mouth it is rich in texture and full of luscious fruit, moving into pineapple from apricot. There is acidity here, but I confess the whole thing feels just a little heavy in the mouth.
(2021) A year older than the Left Field example, and substantially deeper in both colour and aroma. There is some straw and hay-like character here over apricot and pear. In the mouth much more exotic and unctuous than the Left Field, guava and scented, super-ripe Ogen melon, lots of tang and orangey vibrancy to the acidity too. A bit of a show-stopper for the often reserved Albariño.
(2021) From Gisborne, this opens with pretty and delicate fresh-sliced apple and peach juice aromas touched by the tang of sea-spray. In the mouth substantial ripeness of fruit has a fruit gum brightness, with very nicely balanced acidity into the finish. Medium-bodied and very drinkable.
(2021) A blend of 60% Rkatsiteli and 40% Mtsvane, this wine is fermented naturally in Qvevri, but partly matured in older oak barrels. There's a touch of gold/amber to the colour, and a little floral touch to the nose as well as aromas of seeds and oils, a little buttery quality too. In the mouth there is very nice balance here, a certain sweet apple ripeness, but straw-like, dry flavours and plenty of dry extract and acidity to give it an almost spicy, lip-tingling finish.
(2021) From eighteen-year-old vineyards in Kakheti, this is from one of the bigger producers, the wine quite widely available. It was fermented in and spent five months in qvevri and again has quite a deep yellow-to-amber colour. There's an orange and apricot quality on the nose here, juicy and citrussy, a suggestion of honey and light waxiness too. In the mouth the fruit is significantly sweeter than the Château Mukhrani Qvevri white, again some honey, but then a salty lemon core of acidity pushes on to the bone-dry finish.
(2021) A blend of three indigenous varieties, Tsolikouri (60%), Krakhuna (20%) and Tsitska (20%) from woman winemaker Baia Abuladze. The three high acid varieties were traditionally used for sparkling wine, but this dry, still wine was made in Qvevri with partial skin contact and spontaneous fermentation. A little paler than the other two whites here, but still a straw/buttercup yellow depth. The nose has dry, straw, butter and light floral notes, but is relatively reserved. In the mouth the wine comes alive with sweet apple fruit, a blast of pithy citrus and another very dry finish that is quite vibrant, salty and punchy.
(2021) A year when poor weather during the early part of the season resulted in reduced crops, but a fine and warm mid- and late season meant a smaller yeild of very high quality fruit from these Wairau River vineyards. Made primarily in stainless steel, approximately 4% was fermented at warmer temperatures in old French oak barriques and large format oak vats. Quite widely available. A particularly fruity passion fruit and gooseberry opening here, and while there is some elderflower pungency, it sits just behind the punchy fruit. In the mouth there's plenty of fruit sweentess and irresistable nectarine juiciness. It feels like a particularly concentrated vintage of the Sauvignon Blanc, the cool salty and lemony acidity providing good support and thrust. Could well be an example that ages rather well.