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I first fell in love with Chardonnay in the early 1990s, making wine from the Rifleman's Vineyard here in Hawke's Bay. At that time, most NZ Chardonnays were over-blown and short-lived. We innovated with cool barrel ferment techniques and whole bunch pressing and created wines that were tight and even more glorious with age. It was immensely rewarding.
The inspiration for Bish Wines came about after a trip I made to Burgundy many years ago. The total dedication to white wines made exclusively from Chardonnay was compelling. In Chablis, they've been making Chardonnay since the 15th Century, and their passion and commitment, along with innovation, are still very evident.
Burgundy is the birth place of Chardonnay, but it finds its self very much at home in Hawke's Bay. The regions have more differences than similarities which is excellent because it makes our wines even more unique, we’re not trying to make White Burgundy. Hawke's Bay has different soils and a great maritime influence, whilst Burgundy is landlocked with severe weather patterns, it’s a hard place to grow fruit, that’s why the great wines are so special. Whilst we have our differences the techniques are very similar, although we lack beautiful underground cellars! Technically, we are on par. We are more innovative here, as we are less constrained by tradition.
Our innovation story really begins with concrete eggs. I saw these in use in South America, they looked cool for starters but more importantly the idea of the ‘Golden Ratio’ and infinite suspension of lees in juice during fermentation really piqued my interest to investigate alternative vessels. From this inspiration, Golden Egg Chardonnay was born!
Looking forward we’ll always nod to Burgundy as a reference point, however we also keep a close eye on the Chardonnay's coming out of Western Australia, Yarra Valley and Tasmania, really great wines being made here. There are also some high-altitude wines from Cantena Zapata in Argentina that are equally exceptional. And more recently, I was surprised by an outstanding Chardonnay from South Africa.
Learn more about The Golden Egg Chardonnay and the magic suspension of yeast.