Dog Point Vineyard
James Healy and Ivan Sutherland will tell you that it’s hard for them to grow much Chardonnay at the extremely high quality level they want for this wine. As with their Section 94 and Pinot Noir, the wine is distinctive due to extraordinary vineyard holdings, intense vineyard management geared towards low yields and hand-picked fruit, and long, low touch winemaking. The effect this work has on the Chardonnay, by nature the least expressive of these three grape varieties, is wild – the wine is intensely expressive, with loads of fruit, leesy character, and chalky minerality that is almost textural. As with all the wines they produce, it is considered a national standard bearer of a different shade.
Dog Point has Chardonnay planted in part on clay and silty valley floor vineyards, and in part on surrounding clay loam vineyards. Two clones predominate, 75% Mendoza and 25% Clone 95, with some plantings dating back to 1981. Grapes are, as always, hand-picked (95% of New Zealand’s vineyards are machine harvested).
Dog Point operates under what is called the “Biogro” program, an initiative to promote the production of premium quality wine utilizing environmentally friendly and responsible practices, details of which are further down.
Hand picked and gently pressed straight to french oak barrels (15% new). Never racked or clarified, and fermentation is 100% wild yeasts. Bottled without fining.
The 2015 harvest began with an early start on the 3rd March after a warm and dry season, with only half of the usual annual rainfall (310mm). It was a small yielding year due to indifferent weather at flowering, followed by a dry summer, which led to concentrated wines that will age well.
Pale Straw in color, this is a ripe, citrus driven Chardonnay. Characteristic biscuit and oatmeal secondary characters and mild flinty notes contrast and compliment the fruit. On the palate, hallmark fresh, vibrant acidity offered by the Mendoza clone offers vitality and vibrancy. A modest amount of new oak delivers subtle char and phenolic structure to the wine. An intensely flavored yet youthful and lively vintage.
Certified Organic & Sustainable. All vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2009. 2,000 sheep graze and fertilize in winter; prunings are composted and spread; 25 steer also graze the property.
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Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate - "The 2015 Chardonnay is a smoky, toasty, medium to full-bodied effort marked by a terrific acid line. That grapefruit note provides the backbone over which riper notions of white peach, toasted hazelnut and pineapple rest. Zesty and refreshing, with a long, mouthwatering finish, this is a compelling example of Marlborough Chardonnay."
Other Wines by this Producer
Dog Point's Sauvignon Blanc has become the icon in its category, a stainless steel Sauvignon Blanc that pulsates with energy, expressiveness and complexity that push the boundaries of what you may expect from Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Section 94 is widely regarded as the most distinctive and greatest Sauvignon Blanc being made in New Zealand today. James Healy and Ivan Sutherland were among the first to begin fermenting their Sauvignon in barrel with wild yeasts, a technique that along with the old vines they use, leads to a full-bodied wine that is less fruit-forward, more exotic, and has immense textural complexity.
Dog Point's renown as a Sauvignon Blanc producers has done nothing to lessen the enthusiasm around their Pinot Noir, today considered one of the finest in New Zealand. What sets their wine apart is the generosity of the structure, which comes off as rich but not sweet, and the complex mingling of fruit and savory notes.