Zen breaks the Chardonnay mould
Everyone's trying to make the Chardonnay to top all others and this week we have tasted one of the best to vie for this position. It's called Zen and comes from one of this country's kings of Chardonnay, Tony Bish.
The Hawke's Bay winemaker released his first vintage of Zen this year and he claims it's a world first because it is the the first Chardonnay in the world to be made exclusively in an ovum.
If you haven't heard of wine made in an ovum before, you're not alone. It's an egg shaped vessel made from French oak, which was made by Taransaud in Cognac near to Bordeaux.
"The shape of the ovum helps the Chardonnay to form rich flavours and textured wines thanks to the unique convection currents it produces," says winemaker Tony Bish.
“Having spent a year with the ovum in my cellar it gives a very calming, positive vibe to the place. It is an incredible piece of craftmanship and extraordinarily beautiful. To name this wine Zenwas an easy choice to be honest."
How Zen was made
Hand picked Mendoza clone Chardonnay grapes were harvested from the Skeetfield Vineyard in Hawke's Bay
They were whole bunch pressed
No settling or any additions were made at all
The old-vine juice was fermented with indigenous, wild yeasts from the vineyard for 2 to 3 weeks
The winemaker philosophy
“The yeasts played a critical part in the development of the wine,” says Tony.
“We add nothing at all to the juice so the native yeasts were able to flourish with each yeast adding its own nuances to the complexity and differentiation.”
Natural malolactic fermentation followed the primary fermentation.
Maturation took place in the temperature controlled barrel room. The wine was left in the ovum for 12 months allowing the yeast derived complexity to fully develop.
It was then racked several times so it could be bottled without fining or filtration.
"This adds to the purity and elegance created by minimum handling, to protect vineyard character and integrity."
The old dry farmed vines
Tony is a big fan of dry farmed vineyards and rates Skeetfield as one of the best, partly because it is never irrigated. This encourages the vine's roots to go deep into the soil, drawing from the mineral, nutrient and water reserves in the ground.
Tasting note by Joelle Thomson
Writer and wine programme director at Regional Wines
2017 Zen Chardonnay $139.99
Next level Chardonnay. Bold, powerful, rich, subtle; all these factors are present and counted, thanks to its pronounced flavour intensity (think, citrus, nectarines and white peach) and beautifully balanced by creamy, nutty notes and a dry, long finish.
The new 2017 Zen Chardonnay has far more in common with its French counterparts from Burgundy than with most wines from down under. There's a savoury flavour that adds depth, interest and deliciousness to this great new wine.