2007 Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand (91 pts, $22)

    2007 Jackson Estate Chardonnay, Marlborough

    OUT OF100
    more wine
    VERDICT: "Smashing stuff"
    New Zealand, Marlborough
    Chardonnay, 13.5% alc.

    Think New Zealand. Marlborough. Wine. Likely, images of Kim Crawford come to mind, and their ever popular, fruit forward Sauvignon Blanc.

    However, that’s changing. More New Zealand wines are making their way into the hands of eager North American wine consumers. Like other expanding wine regions (Argentina, Chile, Australia), New Zealand is offering an increasing number of quality wines at competitive prices.

    When I received samples of the latest releases from Jackson Estate, I went immediately for the Chardonnay.

    Of course I’m also interested in their Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc, but it is the Chard I was most curious about. It’s my favorite white by far (although, a Riesling is still my de facto pairing for spicy meals) and I have been enjoying plenty of the varietal’s best out of Sonoma and Napa over the past few months.

    So, about that unoaked trend then. It’s possibly the most over-worked term used to describe Chardonnays.

    But, again, I find myself playing the same card to describe this wine. What I really like about it though is its strong acidic and mineral qualities on the finish. Perfect. It doesn’t get all gummy or thick in the mouth. Buttery this is not… thankfully.

    In fact, for a moment, thanks to some citrus fruit on the nose you might even mistake this for a Sauvignon Blanc.

    Barrels were a mixture of new and older French oak—25% being new. The wine is named for a large shelterbelt of trees separating the grounds of the Jackson Estate homestead “Runnymede” from the vineyard.

    Mike Paterson is Jackson Estate’s head winemaker. Interestingly, his background includes a stint with Clod du Bois in Sonoma Valley, and other wineries including those in Burgundy and Australia.

    This is an immensely enjoyable wine, and at $21.99 a strong value. Definitely worth a look next time you’re in the mood for a unique, New Zealand Chardonnay.

    Next up, I’ll give the Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc a whirl.

    Disclosure: wines in this article are press samples.

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