We have access for the first time to Villa Maria's Keltern Chardonnay and this is a particularly important vintage for the cuvée: as Decanter reported last month, it has been upgraded from the Single Vineyard collection to the Icon collection, making it one of Villa Maria's flagship wines, alongside the Attorney and Ngakirikiri!

Villa Maria is one of New Zealand's most important producers, with holdings in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay on the North Island, as well as the better known Marlborough; since their first vintage in 1962, their porfolio has expanded significantly. Rebecca Gibb (Vinous) considers their single-vineyard wines, such as the Taylor's Pass, Keltern Chardonnay, and Ngakirikiri Cabernet, benchmarks for the region.

With the 2021 vintage, the Keltern Chardonnay was upgraded from the Single Vineyard collection to the Icon collection, joining the Attorney Pinot Noir (Marlborough) and Ngakirikiri Cabernet (Gimblett Gravels) as one of their flagship wines. At this end of the portfolio, the advantages given by Villa Maria's size are clear: their portfolio covers all price ranges starting from daily drinkers in supermarkets, and their regional diversification is admirable — with the flagship range, they are quite happy simply not to release anything at all if the vintage doesn't meet expectations.

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Why we like it:

• Villa Maria's top single-vineyard Chardonnay from a vineyard east of Maraekakaho.
• With the 2021 vintage, the Keltern has been moved into Villa Maria's Icon range, along with the Ngakirikiri Cabernet and Attorney Pinot Noir, making it a flagship wine.
• Drink over the next decade (Vinous).

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