Moss Wood 1996 Chardonnay
The 1996 Moss Wood Chardonnay has a light to medium straw colour with some green tints; fruity aromas of lime, melon and peach with toasty oak with overtones of bread dough and butterscotch from the malolactic fermentation and yeast autolysis. The palate is rich and luscious with ripe peach characters, some citrus overtones and soft oak. The 1996 Chardonnay is tightly structured, intensely flavoured and has crisp acidity on a long, lingering finish. While fresh, clean and delicious young, it can be cellared with confidence for up to ten years.
The 1996 vintage was an outstanding one at Moss Wood, one of the few which have been excellent for both white and red wines. Some areas of the vineyard suffered from heavy rainfall during the flowering of the vines but excellent conditions everywhere else compensated for this. After an ideal temperate spring with very good rainfall and no strong winds to cause damage to the grapes, the weather leading up to vintage was warm but without any hot spells and there was no rain at harvest. This enabled the grapes to ripen steadily and easily until two very warm weeks in February hastened the beginning of vintage. Regarded it as an exemplary harvest which produced fine chardonnay with delicate fragrances and impressive richness.
The grapes were crushed and immediately drained so that there was no skin contact. As usual, all pressings were included and the juices were cold settled for three days in stainless steel tanks, inoculated with a pure yeast culture and fermented at 18 degrees Celsius until half way. They were then racked into one hundred per cent new French barriques where they finished fermentation. Fifty per cent of the wine was allowed to go through a malolactic fermentation. The chardonnay was left on its gross lees for three months and spent a further ten months in barrel on its fine lees. An improvement in the quality of grapes coming from the vineyard enables the chardonnay more time in oak than was possible beforehand.
While fresh, clean and delicious young, it can be cellared with confidence for up to ten years. Optimum drinking 2005.