MAN O’ WAR
Valhalla Chardonnay 2013
WAIHEKE ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
From the Winery:
Our Legacy; ‘Discovered’ in 1769
The Man O’ War story begins with a special piece of land which has a rich history. Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, Man O’ War is a stunning array of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and pristine beaches forming a ruggedly beautiful coastline.
It was along this coastline that Captain James Cook came to anchor during his first voyage around the islands of New Zealand in 1769. Upon sighting the ancient stands of magnificent Kauri trees ashore, Cook noted in his journals that they would make ideal masts for the Man O’ War battleships of the Royal Navy. Thus the name Man O’ War was bestowed upon this unique land.
With a desire to protect this treasured land’s natural beauty and sense of history for future generations, our family purchased the four contiguous farms that now form the 4,500 acres of Man O’ War in the early 1980s. And so began our adventure of exploring this land, along the way naming our ‘discoveries’ in honour of family history, naval legacy, and of this special place itself.
Our Blanc de Blanc is christened in our mother’s native tongue for her first granddaughter, Tulia, which in Finnish means a small and gentle breeze. Valhalla Chardonnay is named after the shining and golden hall in Norse mythology where the souls of fallen warriors feasted with the gods; Valhalla is also the name of the depot ship that supplied the Royal Navy Motor Launch our grandfather commanded during WWI. Exiled Pinot Gris is named in tribute to Napoleon’s final place of exile where he was banished after his defeat at Waterloo. While Gravestone Sauvignon Semillon alone takes its name from the fluted basalt boulders that solemnly surround the hilltops of Man O’ War.
Our Ironclad Cabernet Franc Merlot blend is labelled in honour of the 19th century warships characterized by the iron armour bolted onto their wooden hulls. Emulating the new class of “fast” battleship that was blessed with an intoxicating combination of elegance and power; Warspite. This is our Cabernet Franc Merlot Malbec blend from Ponui Island, which is designated for the graceful power of the Royal Navy’s “Grand Old Dame”.
Dreadnought Syrah is named after the first in a line of 20th century battleships which was bestowed with the motto “fear god and dread nought” and embodied a supreme combination of speed and power. Bellerophon Syrah Viognier is christened in honour of the heroic demi-god astride an immortal winged-horse; Bellerophon designates both a new class of Dreadnoughts, and the first blend of Syrah and Viognier from our volcanic hillside vineyards..
Precision Viticulture allows us to optimize vineyard performance and our ongoing dedication to sustainable practices means Mission is one of the most energy efficient wineries in New Zealand.
Over two hundred years after Cook first sighted Man O’ War we were convinced that world class wine could be grown here. We began planting our first vines in 1993. Today Man O’ War consists of 150 acres of vines planted in 76 individual hillside blocks, each with a distinct soil profile and microclimate.
Every single block bears the footprints, and sometimes the names, of those who transformed Man O’ War’s rugged hillsides into a spectacular patchwork of vines.
My Tasting Notes:
I tasted the Man O’ War Chardonnay at a New Zealand Bubbly and Chardonnay promotion. The wines for the event were chosen by an astute panel of industry experts in New Zealand to help showcase the best of the best wines for each category. There are two main islands that comprise New Zealand. The Chardonnay was tasted with five other north island producers and five producers from the south island. There are quite contrasting styles from each region making this a potpourri and flavourfest for lovers of Chardonnay. The acidity levels for most of the wines from New Zealand run quite high.
This Chardonnay stands out by its intense minerality in the nose. I found it a bit overwhelming at first but it dissipated as I intentionally warmed by glass with my hands. There was a nice weight and mouth-feel that started to show tropical fruit flavours, roasted nuts and toasted croutons. The high acidity became more pronounced as I warmed the glass, too. This Chardonnay is good enough to drink on its own but best paired with salmon, seafood pasta, charcuterie and smoked Gouda or creamy bleu cheese.
Varietal composition: 100% Chardonnay
Region: Waiheke Island
Vineyard Blocks: Bitch; Root Rake; Gorse Lane Way; Pohutakawa; South II; Sheila’s; Red Dump; Lil Beast
BRIX 23.9 – 25.9 by Hand
Harvest: Feb 28th – Mar 12th 2013
Barrels: 15% New French Oak; 5% New French Acacia Wood; 80% Seasoned Oak
Sugar: 1.0 g/l
Acidity: 8.4 g/l
My Impression: Drink now to 2020. My score: 88-90/100
Tasted May 14th, 2015
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