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2016 Chardonnay and 2015 Syrah reviews from Raymond Chan

Theory & Practice and Craft Farm 2016 Chardonnay and 2015 Syrah

Ant Mackenzie has an enviable track record as one of New Zealand’s leading winemakers, beginning at Framingham, then Spy Valley, Mud House, and recently as a consultant at Te Awa, Dry River and Villa Maria.  Since then amidst his various other consultancies, he and his wife Fiona launched their own brands last year.  He has his ‘Tono’ Spanish-inspired bottlings, the ‘Theory & Practice’ contemporary Hawke’s Bay wines, the ‘Alluviale’ brand which has alluvial-soiled Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough wines, and his ‘flagship’ ‘Craft Farm’ single-site offerings.  The wines I’ve tasted under these labels are remarkably good and true to the Mackenzie’s aspirations, considering the breadth of scope they cover.  They have a success story in the making.  Here, I review the new release 2016 Chardonnays and 2015 Syrahs under the Theory & Practice, and Craft Farm labels.  The Craft Farm Syrah wine comes from John and Shona Lyons’ vineyard in the Bridge Pa district.  With the increasing interest in the variety, especially on-premise, reports Ant, he is developing more vineyard area to Syrah with the Lyons.  www.antswines.co.nz

Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Bright, light golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge.  The nose is softly full with aromas of ripe yellow stonefruit melded with a harmonious amalgam of nutty oak, creamy barrel-ferment notes, lemon-curd MLF and butter and butterscotch notes.  The nose has a deep heart.  Medium-full bodied, the palate has flavours of ripe yellow stonefruit along with tropical fruits and nuts, harmoniously entwined with an amalgam of creamy barrel-ferment, lemon-curd, butter and butterscotch MLF flavours that unfold to fill the palate.  The mouthfeel shows light phenolic textures with subtle, lacy acidity lending freshness and energy.  The wine carries to a long finish with stonefruit, nuts and butterscotch.  This is a full, up-front Chardonnay with flavours of yellow stonefruits, lemon-curd and butterscotch MLF on as fine, grainy-textured palate with balancing acid freshness.  Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 4 years.  Clones Mendoza, 15, 95 and 809 from the Cape Coast and Inland Valleys, hand-picked and WBP, barrel-fermented, partially with indigenous yeasts to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 40% new French oak with 100% MLF.  18.0/20  Nov 2017  RRP $24.95

Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

Full, dark, deep purple-hued black-resd colour, very youthful in appearance.  The nose is softly full with gentle, up-front aromas of ripe blackberry and dark-raspberry fruit, interwoven with notes of black pepper and violet florals.  The nose has good depth.  Medium-bodied, the palate has rich and sweet, up-front, mouthfilling flavours of ripe blackberries and dark raspberries, along with black and white pepper notes, violet florals, and suggestions of game and spice.  The mouthfeel is vibrant and supported by light, fine-grained tannins, quite supple, with a fine-textured line.  The flavours carry to a long, lingering finish of savoury black and red fruits, and pepper and floral nuances.  This is a rich, up-front, mouthfilling Syrah with blackberry and raspberry fruit along with pepper, florals, spice and game, on a vibrant, lively, fine-textured palate.  Seerve with slow-cooked game meat and casseroles over the next 5-6 years.  A selection of clones, including MS and Chave, from Inland Gravels, hand-picked and destemmed, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 20 months in 19.5% new French oak hogsheads.  18.5-/20  Nov 2017  RRP $24.95

Craft Farm Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016

Bright, even straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues, a little lighter on the rim.  The nose is soft and full, and gently voluminous with aromas of white and yellow stonefruits melded with a layering of nutty oak and flinty minerals.  The aromatics are even in presence and well-detailed, growing in intensity with aeration,  Medium-full bodied, the palate has vibrant and lively, finely concentrated and elegantly intense flavours of white stonefruits with mealy and nutty notes, some creamy barrel-ferment and complexing flint and struck-match flavours.  The fruit forms a firm and tight core with very good linearity, and the wine carries to a long and sustained finish of stonefruits and flint.  This is an elegantly concentrated and vibrant Chardonnay with intense flavours of white stonefruits, nuts and gunflinty mineral complexities on a fine-textured, lingering palate.  Match with seafood and poultry over the next 5-6 years.  Clone 15 and 809 fruit from the ‘Home Vineyard’ WBP, indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 9 months on lees in 30% new 300 L hogsheads and 225 L barriques, the wine undergoing 100% MLF.  100 dozen made.  18.5+/20  Nov 2017  RRP $39.95

Craft Farm Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

Dark, deep, purple-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim, youthful in appearance.  The nose is initially a little shy in expression, showing subtly layered and detailed aromas with concentrated, fragrant blackberry and raspberry fruit along with an array of dark-red and violet florals, unveiling a suggestion of pepper and reduction.  The aromatics exude finesse and grow in intensity with aeration.  Medium-bodied, the palate is stylish in presentation with rich fruit flavours of black and red berried fruits with aromatic violet florals and pepper notes.  The palate is refined with fine-grained flowery tannin extraction forming a concentrated core with balanced and integrated acidity.  The wine carries along a velvety line, leading to a lingering, elegant finish of black fruits and florals.  This is a beautifully fragrant Syrah with fine aromatic flavours of blackberry and raspberry fruit and an array of florals on a velvety-textured palate.  Match with duck, pork and beef dishes over the next 6-8 years.  Chave clone fruit from the ‘Lyons Vineyard’, Bridge Pa, hand-picked and fermented with 15% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 50% new French oak of various sizes.  100 dozen made.   18.5+/20  Nov 2017  RRP $44.95