Monowai Estate Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2020 $25

Twas waaay back in ye olde early days of my wine journey that I first encountered the mighty Monowai chardonnay and now it’s something I look forward to seeing each year because it’s changing (for the better) all the time. Emma Lowe and Marcello Nunez are the evil geniuses behind this ripe, clean, peaches-and-cream style grown out on Matapiro Road in the Crownthorpe district, 30mins drive west of Hastings. Increasing vine age surely has much to do with its evolving character and generosity, yet if you’ve ever seen their vineyard, it’s a heat-trap of rocky dirt above the Ngaruroro River where the vines bake in the sun. In fact the stones are so big in the vineyard they’re called ‘Matapiro swedes’. I reckon they’re responsible for the flinty, mineral edge that hems in the sexy stonefruit, citrus and spice notes. Beautifully balanced, excellent value, I love it! Sneaky ham and cheese toastie? Tick!