Waipara Hills Chardonnay 2011

What with all the Chardonnay play of late, it can be disconcerting to taste an example that isn’t trying to say something new (or old) and bold about how the varietal should taste.

This wine, at first, is self-effacing to the point of blandness. It’s not overtly worked, nor it is self-consciously lean. It’s not much of anything, really, until you realise that it just is, throwing straightforward fruit notes that are part citrus, part stonefruit. It’s totally varietal, if not terribly exuberant in its expression. There’s just a hint of winemaker input in a caramel edge that seems the only embellishment on what is otherwise a pure, fruit-driven style.

The palate maintains the simple purity shown on the nose. It is, again, all about fruit flavours — pineapple, nectarine, lemon. Quite simple and not massively intense, but pretty and unpretentious. Acid is firm and fresh, and the wine fans out softly through the finish in an attractive manner.

In the end, that this wine struck me because it does not sit at a stylistic extreme perhaps says more about me than the wine. It’s nice, though, to taste a straightforward Chardonnay now and then. A pretty antidote to all the fuss.

Waipara Hills
Price: $A22
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Alan McCorkindale Cuvée Rosé 2002

There’s something about incredibly naff labels on fairly spendy bottles of wine that catches my eye, every time. This bottle is from a Glengarry wine shop in a snobby suburb of Auckland somewhere east of the harbor; I picked it up on the way back to the airport last month. Given that today is St Valentine’s day, pink sparkling wine is a categorical imperative, so here we are.Sure, the label looks like a near-sighted librarian threw it together in Microsoft Word after a hell of a bender the day before, but what’s in the bottle is impressive. A dark onionskin color with a somewhat anemic bead, the nose is very much that of a proper red wine and is at first somewhat jarring. However, paying careful attention reaps rewards: there is definitely a lessy note thanks to extended maturation on the lees, and there’s that telltale fine aroma of brioche that marks this as a superior wine.Rich and full in the mouth, balanced by wonderfully refreshing acidity, the first impression I get is of freshly sliced Bosc pears, which seems incongrous with the, well, pinkness of the wine. Stepping back for a minute, the effect is of crushed roses in a forgotten corner of a spice market; then again, roses do have a spiciness inherent to them, so I’m probably just being overly enthustiastic here. All put together, this wine is mesmerizing; the bead may not be noticeable, but it provides a certain fullness in the mouth which is charming and rare. Add the spices, fresh pears, and rosy notes and I’m certain that no person in the world would prefer a box of chocolates to this bottle of wine. Delicious.Alan McCorkindale
Price: NZ $50 (appx.)
Closure: Cork