I’m always happy to discover another New World producer committed to biodynamic wines — especially when the wines are really good. My latest discovery is the smoky, sophisticated 2009 Seresin Reserve Chardonnay from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. It’s fruity and tangy with a slight taste of nuts, a satiny, polished texture and a surprisingly long finish.
Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week
Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13.5 %
Serve with: Chicken pot pie, fish in creamy sauces, lobster
This was one of six Chardonnays from New Zealand that I tasted at a seminar on the country’s terroir and climate, which aimed to illustrate the diversity of styles in various regions. One from Central Otago had deep minerality, while Seresin’s, from the winery’s hillside Raupo Creek vineyard in Marlborough, had more zest and citrus character. Though Marlborough gained its reputation from its Sauvignon Blancs, the terroir clearly suits Chardonnay, too.
Winemaker Clive Dougall, who got his start managing a wine shop in London and has been at Seresin since 2006, gave a crash course in New Zealand’s geography, climate, soil and Chardonnay clones via a few confusing charts. Together the country’s two islands are 1,000 miles long, 200 miles wide, straddle two tectonic plates and have 100 different soil types. Marlborough, on the northeast coast of the South Island, has more rainfall than Central Otago but not nearly as much as Burgundy.
Seresin Reserve Chardonnay reflects biodynamic approach
New Zealand cinematographer Michael Seresin (“Angela’s Ashes,” “Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban”) founded the winery in 1992 and released the first vintage in 1996. From the beginning he was committed to organic viticulture, and now Seresin’s vineyards are also certified biodynamic, along with its olive groves, vegetable gardens and fruit trees.
But that isn’t the only reason this Chardonnay exhibits such a distinctive taste of terroir. Dougall is wedded to minimal intervention winemaking and ferments with wild yeasts, which new research has shown to be a vital part of terroir. Two big changes in producing Chardonnay in New Zealand over the past decade also help. Everyone is reducing the amount of new oak barrels — only 25% of the barrels for this Seresin reserve were new — and lowering alcohol levels.
I find the hand on the label just a little bit hokey — it’s supposed to symbolize the winery’s hand-picked, hand-tended artisan approach — but the wine inside the bottle will make you smile.
Top composite photo:
A New Zealand rock points the way to the home of Seresin Estate wines, including the 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. Credit: Courtesy of Seresin Estate Winery