Once a year, the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association invites its members to submit chardonnay samples. The top 12, this year christened “Hawke’s Bay Annual Chardonnay Collection – Vintage 2021”, are distributed to wine media around the world.

It is a worthwhile promotion that will remind the recipients just how good Hawke’s Bay chardonnay can be. Hawke’s Bay, and indeed New Zealand chardonnay, is massively underrated. 

Fifty-six wines were tasted to select the following 12 wines:

  • Askerne Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021 
  • Bilancia Kaikora Chardonnay 2021 
  • Church Road 1 Single Vineyard Terraces Chardonnay 2021 
  • Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021 
  • Collaboration Wines Aurulent Chardonnay 2021 
  • Elephant Hill Earth Chardonnay 2021 
  • Esk Valley Wines Seabed Chardonnay 2021 
  • Helio Wines Chardonnay 2021 
  • Smith & Sheth CRU Howell Vineyard Chardonnay 2021 
  • Swift Wines Chardonnay 2021 
  • Tony Bish Wines Heartwood Chardonnay 2021 
  • Trinity Hill Wines Single Vineyard 125 Gimblett Chardonnay 2021

It's an impressive list.

Exactly 24 hours after receiving the names of the top 12, I received a second email with a corrected version of the list. 

The first list had included a wine labelled “Fistonich Family Vineyards Esk Valley Seabed Chardonnay 2021”. That was replaced with “Esk Valley Seabed Chardonnay 2021”. Interesting.

New from Neudorf

Neudorf are maintaining their usual high standard with the release of a relatively affordable chardonnay and pinot noir, both delicious wines that offer excellent value.

Neudorf Tiritiri Chardonnay 2021, Nelson, $28

Neudorf’s grower-series chardonnay is from vines planted on Moutere clay gravels. Rich, intense wine with grapefruit, toast, oyster shell and spicy oak flavours. Age-worthy chardonnay offering great value at this price.

Neudorf Tom’s Block Moutere Pinot Noir 2021, Nelson, $36

Serious pinot noir with cassis, dark cherry, anise/spice, plum, dark chocolate, and nutty oak flavours. Although it can be appreciated now, this wine is built to last for more than a decade.

Te Kairanga pinot noir shines

Te Kairanga, part of the Foley Family group of wineries, released two impressive pinot noir labels from the excellent 2021 vintage. The wines show concentration with impressive power and purity.

Te Kairanga John Martin Pinot Noir 2021, Martinborough, $46.99

An intense yet elegant wine with red-rose, violet, cassis, blackcurrant, cedar and mixed-spice flavours, Aromatic pinot noir with an impressively lengthy finish. Accessible now but with the potential to develop well with bottle age.

Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir 2021, Martinborough, $35.99

Intense, ripe pinot noir with tones of cassis, dark cherry/berry and black Doris plum together with wood smoke and liquorice. Almost syrupy wine with density and length. Verging on “Christmas cake”.