Hawkes Bay Chardonnay does not show up in cellars often – the only way to assess quality over time. Sacred Hill has been imported into our market in small quantities for a few years now. They represent benchmark quality for New Zealand’s warmest region, which is yet cool by international standards. Though Cabernet can ripen here, the climate is at the limit of that working out. Chardonnay works well and produces a style with power and richness but also high acidity and, as a result, longevity. In fact, the Riflemans is often closed in its first couple years. Not so after 8 years in bottle (and under screwcap).
Sacred Hill was founded about 25 years ago by two brothers, David and Mark Mason. These two inherited the family farm from their father and travelled abroad studying in Bordeaux and Australia. As with many New Zealand wineries, Sacred Hill puts considerable effort into reducing their environmental footprint.
The grapes in this Chard were hand picked and whole cluster pressed, then fermented with indigenous yeasts and left to age for 12 months in oak barriques. The Rifleman Vineyard is on a river plateau with volcanic soils overlaying limestone bedrock.
The 2010 is in a perfect place today. Orchard and citrus fruits. Mid-palate power. Length and texture. Open aromatics. It was stellar and impressive proof of Sacred Hill’s prowess with this grape.
$40 at BCLDB (when purchased in 2012) and Highly Recommended Value (for ageing)