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Irwin Chardonnay

The History

Our flagship Irwin Chardonnay is a tribute to the late Bill Irwin and his son Denis, the founders of Matawhero Wines. Bill is considered the father of modern viticulture in New Zealand and imported new grape varieties including Mendoza Chardonnay into New Zealand in the late 1960s.

Denis recalls "Sometimes I reflect on what Dad did for the New Zealand grape growers and I am incredulous. He was corresponding with viticultural leaders in Europe, Australia and the United States and was responsible for the importation of virus-free root stock into New Zealand. It gave vineyards of the 1970s, and as a result the country's wine industry, a strong base from which to flourish."

During the 1970s and 80s Denis scooped numerous New Zealand wine awards with his Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay, and had the nerve and enterprise to enter international wine competitions. That audaciousness helped introduce New Zealand wine to the United Kingdom and Australia at a time when no one else was. "We were really radical for back then. There was almost a superstar element to it as we were entertaining prime ministers and international wine critics. But behind-the-scenes the life we were living was actually a continuation of my father’s hard working days."

The Wine

In an exceptional vintage, where superior ripeness is achieved, we hand craft this limited release barrel fermented style of Gisborne Chardonnay.

Harvested in the cool of the morning, the fruit for this wine achieved superb ripeness after another warm season in Gisborne. The grapes were gently pressed and slightly clarified prior to fermentation. The juice was then inoculated with the indigenous yeast from the vineyard using a technique called Pied du Cuvé. Here we pick a small parcel of grapes and crush prior to the full harvest and allow them to ferment on the skins. We then add these back into the juice to ferment the full parcel. This gives us a true expression and terroir of the vineyard and provides layers of flavour and aroma complexity, as well as wonderful palate texture. Fermentation in a mixture of American and Hungarian oak barriques ensures a perfect integration of oak character and full malolactic fermentation adds richness and length. The flavour profile of Gisborne Chardonnay suits the wider grained American and Hungarian oak. The wine is sir lie for 10 months before careful fining and bottling. The Irwin is then aged in bottle for 6 months before release on 1st September each year.

Our flagship Chardonnay expresses a medley of peach and melon flavours, overlaid with toasty oak. A rich, ripe style with finely integrated oak and a taut but harmonious acidity on the finish.

The Vineyard

Our flagship Irwin Chardonnay is made from 100% Mendoza Chardonnay grapes from the famous Tietjen vineyard on the Golden Slopes in Gisborne. This site has a rich history in producing award-winning Chardonnays for over 20 years.

This narrow 10km strip is made up of small parcels of elevated sloping land. Medium to heavy Kaiti clay base material is overlaid with 20-30cm of light black topsoil, with influences from the limestone foothills. These conditions allow vines to grow with a balance suited to super-premium wine making.

Here we target low yielding vines, the grapes are hand leaf plucked for ultimate sun exposure and the crop reduced to 6 tonnes per hectare to increase the intensity of the flavour in the wine.

Matawhero Irwin
Chardonnay 2016

Our flagship Irwin Chardonnay expresses a medley of peach and melon flavours, overlaid with toasty oak. A rich, ripe style with finely integrated oak and a taut but harmonious acidity on the finish.

Beautiful with seafood such as crayfish and scallops.

93 Points/5 Star - Wine Orbit
5 Star - Raymond Chan
93 Points - Bob Campbell, MW

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