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Featured Reviews

Villa Maria ‘Keltern’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017

06 November,2018

I’ve been lucky to have tasted around a decade of Villa Maria ‘Single Vineyard – Keltern’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay vintages. The vineyard, situated on Maraekakaho Road near Hastings in Hawke’s Bay can be regarded as one of this country’s premier sites for Chardonnay. The wines from ‘Keltern’ exhibit a distinctive personality that the Villa Maria viticultural and winemaking teams recognise, and do as much (or as little) as required to expressed this character to the fullest. An inland site with the nearby Ngaruroro River bordering it, the vines, clones 15 and 95 at around 16 y.o. are planted on ancient riverbed with silt loam soils layered over red metals and includes large, free-draining gravel stones. The more recent planting of clone 548 Chardonnay has become significant.

For me, the Chardonnay wines from the ‘Keltern’ site have great elegance and proportion with an intensity and depth of favour that is not rivalled by the other Villa Maria estate Chardonnay sites in Hawke’s Bay. There is a degree of finesse and vitality to the wine that is a standout. This is a consistent feature. The wines show an array of stonefruit aromas and flavours, rather than tropical fruits, and usually the gunflint mineral complexity is present, the strength of which is vintage dependent. The multi-gold and multi-trophy winning 2010 wine was arguably one of the strongest in this complexing factor; I have enjoyed the wine very much, almost all the bottles quite wondrous, but the occasional bottle ‘over the top’ – but this is not due to any inconsistency in the wine, but rather, due to my mood, situation and food I was eating at the time!

Villa Maria’s current release of the ‘SV – Keltern’ Chardonnay is the 2017 vintage. The vintage was a cool and wet one, but the Villa Maria viticultural team picked the fruit before the significant March rain events. The vintage is a departure from earlier vintages in that for the first time, clone 548, the ‘Corton-Charlemagne’ clone is predominant, and that fruit from younger vines make up the larger proportion of the blend. The wine has already been successful on the show circuit with gold medals and a Champion Wine of the Show trophy. I review the wine here.


Villa Maria ‘Single Vineyard – Keltern’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim. Thi has an elegantly proportioned nose with very good depth, intensity and penetration of white stonefruits and white peaches with some citrus fruit elements, harmoniously entwined with a fine, taut line of gunflinty minerally reduction. The balance is excellent and the fruit features with subtle nutty lees and oak elements adding detail. This has finesse with fine complexity. Medium-full bodied, the palate is finely presented with intense and deep flavours of white peaches and stonefruits harmoniously melded with a layering of nutty oak and mouthfilling gunflinty complexities. The mouthfeel is fresh and vibrant with lacy acidity adding to the drive and underlying power and linearity. The textures are refined and the wine carries to a long and sustained finish. This is a fine and elegantly proportioned Chardonnay with balanced white stonefruit, nutty oak and complex flinty, mineral notes on a fresh palate with drive and length. Serve with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 4-5 years. A blend of 67% clone 548, 29% 15, selectively hand-picked, WBP and fully barrel-fermented, 83% by indigenous yeasts to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 42% new Francois Freres and Orion oak barriques, undergoing batonnage and approx. 60% MLF. 19.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $59.99

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