New Zealand is known for its citrusy sauvignon blanc wines; but wine lovers should get to know the smooth 2007 Craggy Range Chardonnay, Kidnappers Vineyard.

Craggy Range is the creation of visionary viticulturist and master of wine Steve Smith and international businessman Terry Peabody. In 1987, Peabody was searching for a way to enter the wine business. He retained Smith as a consultant who had the vineyard experience and wine knowledge to foresee the potential of undeveloped land in the Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand.

In 1876, a great flood left this a rock- and stone-filled area unsuitable for anything but a gravel pit and quarry; however, Smith’s vision encouraged Peabody to purchase various plots for vineyard sites. And, in 1998, Smith became a partner, viticultural director and general manager of Craggy Range.

Smith’s concentration on particular plots has given Craggy Range a portfolio of single-vineyard wines. The vineyards are divided between two winemakers, Adrian Baker and Rod Easthope, an unusual arrangement in the wine world, but one that makes perfect sense for Craggy Range’s repertoire of wines and vineyards.

Rod Easthope is responsible for the Kidnappers Vineyard, Chardonnay; and the Syrah, and Bordeaux varieties in the Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Vineyard. Hugging the Hawkes Bay coastline, the Kidnappers Vineyard receives a constant cooling ocean breeze.

This allows the grapes to develop balanced fruit and acidity levels. The 2007 Chardonnay displays the ripe, rich fruit flavors found in New World wines with the backbone of minerality and acidity associated with Burgundy chardonnay. Along with this delightful combination is the restrained use of 15-percent new French oak barrels for aging and an equally tolerant 14.2-percent alcohol.

Easthope has given wine consumers a perfect white wine for grilled veal and pork chops, roasted chicken, shrimp and scallop presentations, or a moment to sip and thank Steve Smith for his prescience.

The 2007 Craggy Range, Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay retails for approximately $24.