Looking at these three chardonnays side by side is like looking at the Solid Gold Dancers when they’re striking their end pose. Legs encased in golden tights, tanned, sinewy arms reaching skyward and toothsome, fruity expressions underneath a froth of big hair...

Wairau River Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 $20

Gently juicy, peachy, zesty grapefruity goodness, followed by beautifully balanced tropical tautness and punchy acidity are all bunched up into a quadratic equation of excellence in this cracker of a wine. The Rose family, behind the Wairau River business, are all in this thing, every one of them - and the wines keep getting better.

Sip with steamed clams tossed with butter, capers, chorizo and lemon.

Craggy Range Gimblet Gravels Chardonnay 2015 $31.95

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This is a sexy example of how restraint can be applied to quality Hawkes Bay
chardonnay fruit. People assume that because a wine is from the rockstar region of the Gimblett Gravels, it's going to be a monster. Yet this wine proves the opposite is just as impressive. It shows really artistry at play, skill, subtlety and I love it. Mineral, peach, white florals, delicate use of oak and beautifully sophisticated.

Sip with pork belly, slow-cooked in milk.

Also available at bitewine.co.nz
Ma Maison Martinborough Chardonnay 2014 $45

Wellington-based dentist-by-trade Edward Leung has worked incredibly hard to produce small amounts of high-quality chardonnay from his tiny vineyard near Dry River Rd. How on earth winemaker Wendy Potts manages to inject layers of creme caramel, roast nectarine, cinnamon and juicy, grilled grapefruit into this wine, I'll never know. She'll tell you it's all in the fruit, whereas I think there's also some serious talent going on in the winery. Buttered crumpet and almond notes on the palate.

Enjoy with cream cheese & herb-stuffed chicken breasts.