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Not-to-be-Missed Pinot & Chard from Matt Connell - 11/19/2019 - New Zealand

This pair of 95-point stunners are among the most exciting finds in our direct-import program. As our New Zealand wine buyer, Thomas Smith, notes, “Matt Connell is an incredibly talented winemaker,” and is at the vanguard of the winemaking revolution going in this Central Otago. Connell is particularly adept at teasing the most from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, serving up expressions that rival the best from Burgundy and Sonoma. At the strong critical reviews and staff notes will attest, these wines are exquisitely made, offering remarkable range and character along with a very user-friendly approach. This is Central Otago at its finest. “Clarity,” “precision,” and “finesse” are but a few of the words that come to mind when tasting this tantalizing pair. $30 is a steal for wines of this pedigree and character, and all it takes is one sip to fall head-over-heels for these divine expressions. Both are age-worthy but are open enough to drink in their youth, making them ideal candidates for your Thanksgiving meal. You definitely need to give these wines a spin, we’re certain you’ll be back for more.

For more on this talented winemaker, be sure to check out our recent On the Trail post.

Vintage Item Name Score Retail Link
2017 Matt Connell "Lowburn" Chardonnay Central Otago 95 $29.99 View
2018 Matt Connell "Rendition" Pinot Noir Central Otago 95 $29.99 View


2017 Matt Connell "Lowburn" Chardonnay Central Otago ($29.99)

95 points Bob Campbell: "Aromatic Chardonnay, with appealing toasted nut, chalky mineral, white peach, citrus and spicy oak flavours. Very elegant and integrated wine. Silken-smooth texture and a lingering finish. A classy wine that should develop well." (09/2018)

94 points Sam Kim: "Beautifully styled and elegantly complex, the engaging bouquet shows nectarine, nougat, lemon peel, vanilla and hazelnut characters, leading to a concentrated palate that is wonderfully weighted and expansive. The wine offers terrific fruit purity together with stylish oak nuances, backed by creamy texture and bright acidity, finishing superbly long and delectable. At its best: now to 2022." (09/2018)

K&L Notes: Hand harvested and whole bunch pressed Chardonnay grapes were fermented in French oak (10% new) utilizing native and selected yeasts. Complete malolactic fermentation. Aged on the lees. From the winery: "Pineapple and caramel notes on the nose leads into upfront fruit intensity that builds and lingers on the palate. A wine is rich with fine acidity and a lingering finish."

2018 Matt Connell "Rendition" Pinot Noir Central Otago ($29.99)

95 points Bob Campbell: "A blend of fruit from Bendigo and Lowburn. Dense, ripe, juicy plum and red rose with subtle chocolate/mocha and liquorice characters. The wine has a lush, sumptuous texture. Delicious now but no rush." (08/2019)

95 points Sam Kim: "Gorgeously fruited and immensely appealing, the bouquet shows dark cherry, sweet plum, vanilla, thyme and toasted hazelnut characters with nuances of spice and floral. The palate delivers excellent weight and depth, while remaining elegant and refined with silky mouthfeel and polished tannins. Youthfully charming and graceful with potential to develop greater complexity and richness." (08/2019)

Staff ImageMandana Tourani | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 12, 2020

Silky, bright, beautifully balanced and delightful. Chocolate covered cranberries, dark cherries with a touch of vanilla on the finish. This wine has created a buzz and why wouldn't it when it has beauty, body and the personality. It is Polished, elegant and silky.

Staff ImageKirk Walker | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 07, 2019

This presents the paradox of Pinot. The nose has volume, the aromas take up all the space that is given to them, but the quality of the aromatics is bright and delicate. There is a real fineness to this wine that is immediately charming. The fruit drives the wine but it still has that fine duty herbal tone but at a very low volume. The same experience follows onto the palate, it has great mouthfeel but without any heaviness. The fruit delicately follows that entry with intensity and lightness. It dances. layers of fruit roll across the long finsh. What a Pinot Noir.

Staff ImageThomas Smith | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 04, 2019

If you were to ask me what wine I am most excited about at K&L right now, it would be this. Hands down. Matt Connell is an incredibly talented winemaker who has dedicated his career to crafting transcendent Pinot Noir. Having honed his skills winemaking at Elk Cove in Oregon and Akarua in New Zealand, Matt struck out on his own under his eponymous label, which has been seeing big scores and is quickly gaining recognition as the next big thing in New Zealand Pinot. His 2018 Rendition Pinot Noir is a perfect example of what I love about his wines. Beautiful and crafted from 100% destemmed fruit, the nose is intensely perfumed and complex with Bing cherry, subtle spice and fresh cranberries, while the palate has incredibly softened tannins and bright, crackling acidity. What I really appreciate about this wine is that despite having all the necessary elements to age--this is drinking perfectly right now. If you want a head-turning, stunner of a Pinot Noir that will impress everyone at the table, this it.

Staff ImageJohn Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 04, 2019

Alone at my coffee-stained wooden desk at the stroke of midnight, eyes transfixed on the rotary phone whose somber black color reflected my mood waiting waiting for it to ring, even though Detective Garamendi knew that Rita had likely skipped town with the cash and was halfway to Rio by now. Wait a minute, this was supposed to be about Pinot Noir, not Film Noir ... when suddenly the mauve curtains exploded and Rita came at me full throttle with a raised bottle. I grabbed her slender wrist in midstrike, snatched it and told her to just sit down. I reached behind the liquor cabinet, grabbed two glasses, poured and swirled. Rita always had better taste in wine than men, so I knew this would be good. First sip, no slips. This satiny textured Central Otago number danced like Astaire on the tongue, with lithe acidity and a lovely core of black cherry and raspberry, nutmeg and chocolate orange peel, caressed by smooth tannin. Soft moonlight played off the jewel-like wine label as Rita and I polished off the bottle, and still had time to catch the red-eye to Rio.

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 31, 2019

I was surprised when I was told this Pinot Noir was from Central Otago as it doesn't carry the dark, brooding, richer fruit that is typical of the region. This wine is bright and focused with a good amount of acidity and high-toned tannin. This is the ultimate food Pinot as many can be too sweet and compete with the dish. The crisp, mineral character of this one makes it complementary instead of battling against other flavors. Certainly this winemaker has had decades to develop this unique and beautiful style and I keep coming back to it over and over again.

Staff ImageStephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

You absolutely need this wine on your Thanksgiving table! "Rendition" is classic Central Otago Pinot Noir expressing notes of dark fruits, violet and subtle spice and chocolate coming from the 25% new oak. It finishes dry and supple with a small touch of tannin. The winemaker has experience from top-notch producers, including one of my favorite Oregon Pinot producers, Elk Cove. This is a fantastic new direct import from New Zealand and Im excited to try more.

Staff ImageJackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

After sitting in a covered glass, this wine really seemed to open up. Nosing the pour, I initially got a light black pepper and cranberry note but the more I went back to it the more it offered. Notes of red currant, black mission fig skin, and a sweet toffee like note was somewhere in the background. Once this juice hit the palate, I immediately was drawn to it. Texturally its got a medium body with a good acid balance to it, something that would have me going back for additional glasses at a holiday dinner. Black raspberry and watermelon jolly ranchers made the experience even more fun, and the finish definitely doesnt detract from that. This is a bottle I would be happy to bring to any holiday dinner.

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

These are exciting times! We found a brand new direct-import Central Otago Pinot Noir, and if you read about the producer's pedigree above, it is no surprise that the wine is nothing short of spectacular. It is completely destemmed, and has a silky smooth profile with rich raspberry, bing cherry fruit, and a touch of baking spice from the oak. The acidity adds verve and tension, while the light grip from the tannins completes the stellar structure. If you like what's coming out of Central Otago, you should definitely try this.

Staff ImageRobert Cash | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

Putting my nose in the glass I immediately knew this was something special. Such lovely aromas of subtle spice, dark fruit, and hints of bakers chocolate. Very aromatic. Balanced and effortless on the palate, it is light in body yet at the same time deep in flavor and complexity. Very approachable. The finish here is very long and lingering. Exceptional Pinot Noir!

Staff ImageMuriel Sarik | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

Another nice Pinot Noir from Central Otago, perfect for your Thanksgiving holiday. Makes me think of cranberry hard candy. Has enough acid and tartness to be a food wine. This will go with any food on that dining room, from turkey to sweet potatoes.

Staff ImageRalph Sands | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

Very pretty Pinot!I love the wines brightness,freshness and purity,as well as the immediate enjoyment!Ralph Sands