Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay 2013, New Zealand
W hen I think of white wine from New Zealand, I immediately think of Sauvignon Blanc. It is the wine the country is most famous for.
Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough was the wine that put New Zealand on the map. It is still the most dominant wine in the country, although other varietals are making great strides.
New Zealand Chardonnay has increased in popularity among vintners and consumers. During the 1990s plantings of Chardonnay vines exceeded those of every other grape in New Zealand. It is planted in every region, but it is most plentiful in Marlborough, where the Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay is grown.
The climate and soil of Marlborough that makes such great Sauvignon Blanc is also ideal for growing great Chardonnay grapes. This particular Chardonnay is grown in an area known as the Golden Mile, a strip of flinty, fertile soil covered with stones left by an ancient river. Winemakers call these smooth river stones “sun stones.”
The area is warmer than the rest of Marlborough, allowing the grapes to ripen sooner. The sun heats the river stones during the day, and the rocks keep the vines warm during the cool nights. Combined with well drained soils, this microclimate produces an elegant taste profile of crispness and freshness.
The wine is a beautiful honey gold color in the glass, with peach and toasty oak aromas. On the palate are smooth, creamy notes of nectarine, citrus and toast with a hint of spice. There is a nice balance among acidity, fruit and minerality.
The Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay is an elegant wine that would be perfect with an elegant dinner, or sipping on the porch. It is more reminiscent of a restrained white Burgundy than a fruit-forward California Chardonnay.
The grapes are bag pressed after harvest, and only the first free-run juices are used. The juice is fermented for up to six months in French and Hungarian oak barrels of which about 30 per cent is new wood, 30 per cent one-year-old wood and the balance older, neutral oak. The lees are stirred regularly to add balance and complexity to the taste.
There is just enough oak to give the wine some depth and complexity without overpowering the fresh fruit.
“The winemaking and viticulture team at Stoneleigh have taken great care to ensure the terroir of the ‘Golden Mile’ is expressed at its very best through the Stoneleigh Latitude wines,” said Jamie Marfell, Stoneleigh winemaker. “I do think the entire range reflects their superlative and distinctive growing conditions.”
The winery is committed to sustainable practices and is accredited under the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) scheme. The planting of more than 3,000 native trees, shrubs and flax on the Stoneleigh vineyard has been carried out to attract the Tui, a native nectar feeding bird, to return to the Marlborough region.
Sauvignon Blanc is still New Zealand’s most widely-planted varietal, but if winemakers continue to produce Chardonnay like this Stoneleigh Latitude, Chardonnay will continue to grow.
Marlborough has the most Chardonnay vines planted, followed by Hawke’s Bay and Gisbourne on the north island.
Winery: Stoneleigh Vineyards was launched in 1986, with vines planted on the banks of the Wairau River in famed Marlborough region. Stoneleigh was among the pioneers in Marlborough, where grapes were first planted in the 1970s. Marlborough is in the northeast corner of the southern island of New Zealand.
The winery is now owned by Pernod Ricard. That company was formed in 1975 when two rival French family businesses, Pernod and Ricard, joined forces. Through acquisitions and growth, the company has become an international giant in the wine and spirits world.
In New Zealand the company owns Montana (now known as Brancott Estate), Stoneleigh, Church Road, and Corbans Wines. Brancott Estate is perhaps the best-known of their wine brands and is one of the most successful in the country.
Stoneleigh consists of three wine ranges: Stoneleigh, Stoneleigh Rapaura Series and Stoneleigh Latitude, the most recent addition.
Stoneleigh wines are known for their intense fruit flavors and approachable styles. Stoneleigh Latitude wines come from the Golden Mile, with more intense aromatics.
Stoneleigh Rapaura Series feature more intense fruit flavors and greater complexity.
Their wines include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Goes with: This wine was a great match for chicken pot pie, which I served with a side order of potato pancakes. This was another quick, mid-week meal when I didn’t feel like cooking from scratch.
The pot pie was a frozen variety and the potato pancakes were leftovers from a previous meal. The wine made everything elegant.
The creaminess complemented the pot pie and the fresh fruit flavors overcame the heaviness of the pancakes.
The Stoneleigh Latitude also would go well with other poultry dishes, pasta with cream sauce and fresh seafood.
Serve it slightly chilled.
Stoneleigh Puts New Twist On New Zealand Chardonnay
Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay 2013, New Zealand