Wednesday Wines – Episode 120 – The 2020 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay Collection

Episode 120 – The 2020 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay Collection

(Launched in the UK in July 2022)

3rd August 2022

 There is no doubt that when we in the UK think of Hawke’s Bay, we probably imagine red wines before white, but this stunning region is blessed with a more diverse set of vinous skills than meets the eye.  Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas reported that he had his work cut out for him whittling down 57 wines from the terrific 2020 Chardonnay vintage, and I can sympathise because I have further brought his selection of a dozen wines down to three superstars and one honourable mention!  Eighteen months ago, I was delighted to taste the fruits of Cam’s labours on the 2019 vintage, and I reported on my favourites (see Wednesday Wines Episode 30th December 2020), and so here we are again.  Interestingly, last year I picked out only two wines that I felt were globally awesome, and the same two labels make this quartet.  But, this year, I have found a couple more wines worthy of serious consideration.  I do not need to point this out, but I will – check out the prices for this quartet.  Clearly, two wines are special occasion candidates, and the other two are worthy of immediate purchasing, assuming they haven’t already sold out.

2020 Bilancia, Tiratore Chardonnay, la collina, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (NZ$90

The finest wine of the line-up, this is a stellar creation with superb finesse and world-class Chardonnay sheen.  Everything is complete, controlled and fabulously luxurious.  With a firmer finish than expected, it is built to evolve, too.  This is a superstar wine, as it was last year, making Tiratore one of the true NZ Chardonnay greats.  (18.5+/20)

2020 Collaboration Wines, Aurulent Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (NZ$38,

Aurulent was the other wine in last year’s line-up, and it is outstanding again in 2020.  Forward-drinking, modestly exotic with Viognier-like flashes of peachiness among more familiar Chardonnay notes, this is a very fine piece of winemaking, and the price makes it an absolute steal.  Not one for ageing, so revel in the beautiful length and heavenly texture now.  (18.5/20)

2020 Villa Maria, Keltern Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (RRP NZ$80,

Villa’s Keltern actually smells expensive as the robust oak leads the way atop indulgent, honeycomb and pear-soaked Chardonnay.  This is as impressive as it is obvious, and while I tend to favour more subtlety in a Chardonnay, there is no doubting the money spent on upholstering here.  The rich oak and muscular intensity make this a statesmanlike wine, which will undoubtedly impress all-comers.  (18/20)

2020 Helio, Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (RRP NZ$35,

My honourable mention goes to Helio – a straightforward, clean, refreshing and marvellously enticing wine with a bright outlook and rather yummy flavours.  Not as serious nor as involving as the others, this wine is jolly, energetic and great value, too, and so I felt I needed to applaud its efforts and highlight its skills for you to admire.  (17.5/20)