Smith & Sheth Cru Mangatahi Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2018 $60

In a word.  Phenomenal.  They call the boulders that litter the soils of the Mangatahi sub-region, west of Hastings, ‘Mangatahi swedes’, which is a bit of a dig at the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ or ‘Te Awanga pebbles’ monikers out there.  The vines thrive on sun-saturated, ancient terraces of the Ngaruroro River, pushing their roots down and around these massive stones to find the moisture they need to produce tiny, intensely flavoured chardonnay berries which the team at Smith & Sheth have expertly shepherded into the bottle.  Ultra-concentrated, bursting with citrus and packed solid with punchy peach, caramelized spices and fresh, tropical complexity, this wine is so statuesque, sublime to sip, beautifully balanced, it glides across your gums like a leggy, liquid supermodel strutting a nectarine and grapefruit-gilded catwalk.  It’s worth every cent and more, plus it’ll evolve into something incredible if you’re disciplined enough to cellar it for another year or six.