Chardonnay Tasting in the Tiny Wine Village of Martinborough, New Zealand

I’m here in Martinborough, New Zealand, a tiny village in the North Island’s Wairarapa wine region. The cool nights and warm summer days provide an ideal climate for grape growing. Primarily known for its Pinot Noir, Martinborough also produces some outstanding chardonnays.

Martinborough’s Wine Bank

We stopped into the Wine Bank off of Memorial Square for chardonnay tasting and discovered some delightful local products. The Wine Bank offers guests a choice of purchasing a small taste, a half glass or a full glass of wine from its state-of-the-art, self-service “wine bank.” The five chardonnays on tap include Nga Waka Home Block Chardonnay 2017, Te Kairanga “John Martin” Chardonnay 2017, the Martinborough Vineyard “Home Block” Chardonnay 2016, Dry River Wines Chardonnay 2017 and the Escarpment “Kupe” Chardonnay 2013.

A view of the self-service wine dispensers in Martinborough's Wine Bank
Guests can purchase a sip, half glass or full glass of wine from the Wine Bank in Martinborough New Zealand

Five Chardonnays

Rich and complex with an aromatic nose, the Nga Waka was barrel fermented in French oak, and the light toast comes through.

The Te Kairanga is vibrant and complex with a hint of butter. It took a few minutes for this one to open up, but once it did, the Te Kairanga ended up my favorite chardonnay from this round of tasting.

The Martinborough Vineyard chardonnay displays stone fruit in the nose, layers of soft pear and vanilla in the flavor, and a creamy mouthfeel. The Martinborough came in second.

Martinborough and Te Kairanga chardonnay
Tasting Martinborough and TK Chardonnays

The Dry River wasn’t as aromatic as the others but the wine is elegant and polished. I taste layers of stone fruit.

The nose in the Escarpment is “tight,” but the flavor shows restrained fruits with a slightly spicy finish. I’m tasting lemon and tangy pineapple.

The Wine Bank is a great way to taste multiple local chardonnays in one setting. A resident sommelier is available to answer questions, make suggestions, or provide you with tasting notes. Food is also available for purchase. Seating is comfortable and you can easily spend a relaxing afternoon here.

Explore More of Martinborough

But this was just a sampling of all that this wonderful region has to offer. If you make it to Martinborough, a tiny wine village, you’ll find plenty to taste nearby. Most wineries are close enough to walk or bike to. Rent a bike, hit the road and explore! I hope you’ll find Martinborough as delightful as I did!