According to the practice of previous years, the wine was completely barrel fermented in French oak and left on the lees (with stirring) for 10 months. The character of the 96 vintage is immediately obvious - strong varietal flavours with both richness and power, interwoven with well-integrated wood and combined with mealy/nutty notes from the lees. The nose and palate show nuts, grapefruit, cloves and fruitcake spices in a complex, leaner style which will open out over the next 2-3 years. Its assertive flavours render it an attractive food wine for drinking now, but expect it to be quite a long-term wine for a New Zealand Chardonnay. In a good cellar, drinking this wine after 3 or 4 years should start to reveal its potential; in warmer conditions (as in Auckland) from 2-3 years will be about right.
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