Vintage Review and Newsletter July 2024

July 03, 2024

The Season
Vintage 2024 could be called ‘The Vintage of Redemption.’ After the horrors of Cyclone Gabrielle which destroyed so much of our beautiful region, including 85% of our grape crop, vintage 2024 was sublime! Our Growing Degree Days in Hawke’s Bay were well above average, with an El Nino summer kicking into play last December. Rainfall came pre-Xmas, then we enjoyed a very dry and warm summer and autumn period, allowing perfect conditions for ripening and flavour development of our grapes. Despite the heat of autumn, evenings were cool, allowing excellent retention of natural acidity. Yields however were very low after poor flowering in early spring (the tail of La Nina had a final sting), resulting in a small crop that easily ripened to full maturity with an abundance of flavour, but produced financially challenging low returns for our growers unfortunately.

The Vineyards
Skeetfield – After losing the entire crop to flood waters last year, we were very relieved to get a spectacular harvest from Denis & Sally Gunn’s Skeetfield Vineyard, albeit only a very low yield sadly. The wine in barrel has incredible concentration and power, with sublime balance and intensity. This will be a spectacularly great vintage for Skeetfield!

Two Terraces – Ian & Linda Quinn’s tireless efforts amongst the vines paid off with a sensational hand harvest of our 3 Chardonnay Clones, the Mendoza, Clone 548, and our first pick of the new Calera clone. We have beautiful wines in barrel and Cuve’s, with fabulous balance and intensity. This will give us great options for single Vineyard wines and fantastic blending options for Heartwood and Golden Egg.

Kokako Farms – Bruce Nimon and his team really delivered this season after a very punishing experience last year with the cyclone. Resilience is a very necessary character, and the way this team worked this season was incredible. We hand picked amazing Chardonnay from Mendoza, Clone 15 and Clone 548 vines in perfect fruit condition. Super exciting to be working with these wines now in our beautiful barrel room!

The Handpickers!
A big SHOUT OUT! to all our fantastic hand pickers. What a team! We handpicked nearly 60 tonnes this year, so a massive effort by all, and some very long rows!

The Wines
The resulting Chardonnay’s from these 3 vineyards that we now have in our Urban Winery Cellar are phenomenally good! They are big in every dimension, perfect flavour ripeness with large personalities and great acidity balance. Malo Lactic ferment has now finished, and the wines are settling into their élevage beautifully. We purchased two new stunning ‘Ovoids’ from our partner cooperage Taransaud this year, and these beauties are now in play creating unique and spectacular wines. 

Releases and Updates
Our 2022 Golden Egg Chardonnay, surely one of NZ’s most unique wines, has once again sold out. Next release is likely September.

We are just rolling to our 2023 release of Fat & Sassy. This release is a harmonious blend of 75% Marlborough and 25% Hawkes Bay, reflecting the challenges of Cyclone Gabrielle. Fortunately, Marlborough had a brilliant vintage in 2023, and the resulting blend of this with the very best of our 2023 Hawke’s Bay fruit has resulted in a delicious Fat & Sassy that is totally true to type. Check out this review from Wine Orbit!

Tony Bish

Fat & Sassy Chardonnay 2023

New Zealand



This is immediately appealing on the nose with golden peach, mango, pineapple and roasted hazelnut aromas, followed by a delectably expressed palate offering creamy texture backed by refreshing acidity. Upfront and flavoursome with a lengthy generous finish. A blend of grapes from Marlborough (75%) & Hawke's Bay (25%). At its best: now to 2027. $23.00. May 2024.

In breaking news, later this year we will be releasing our very first single vineyard wine from Two Terraces. This extraordinary vineyard came through all the challenges of 20233, we held on until the soils dried out, and very carefully hand-picked a totally immaculate harvest of Mendoza Chardonnay that we are very proud of. Huge credit to Ian & Linda Quinn for this extraordinary achievement. Oscar and I have nurtured this wine in the finest Taransaud barriques and could not be happier, this is a fabulous intense and pure expression of great Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay.

Wrap Up
With the wines all dry and through secondary malo-lactic ferment, it’s a quiet time in the cellar, so please come and visit us at The Urban Winery in Ahuriri Napier, see our beautiful (and very full!) barrel room, and be greeted by our hospitable staff for a wine tasting experience not to forget.

Planning is underway for Vintage 2025, my how the years roll by!

Stay true Chardonnista’s!
Warm Regards,
Tony, Oscar, Evie, Maxime and the Urban Winery Team.


Antony Bish
Antony Bish