#newwinethisweek Week 49 – Chardonnay, New Zealand
If New Zealand has a signature white wine it has to be Sauvignon Blanc. Since the first vintage of Cloudy Bay in 1985, the pungent flavours and aromas of gooseberries and tropical fruit, combined with searing acidity, have made Kiwi SB a favourite all over the world. But there is far more to New Zealand whites that SB; Riesling is made in every possible style, or how about luscious Pinot Gris or spicy Gruner Veltliner? In my mind, the very best white wines coming out of New Zealand these days are the Chardonnays; from crisp and mineral to fat and buttery, you can get it all from the land of the land of the long white cloud…
The area planted to vines in New Zealand was less than 6,000ha back in 1985; in 2013 that number was approaching 36,000ha. Sauvignon Blanc tops the tables with a massive 57% of plantings, followed by Pinot Noir at 15% and Chardonnay at 9%. The statistic from New Zealand Winegrowers also shows a small decline in Chardonnay plantings, but the best is getting better and the focus is heading towards quality, not quantity.
It used to be the case that the wines of the warmer climate of the North Island, from Auckland, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, were fuller and richer; the Southern Island wines, including Marlborough
and Otago, had more citrus, minerality and acidity. These days, the winemaking techniques have evolved that Chardonnay is being made in a wide variety of styles across a wide variety of regions.
As we are learning with our #newwinethisweek investigation, it pays to spend a bit more with most wines; NZ Chardonnay is no exception. There is very little good quality wine available under £10 so I suggest you spend a couple of quid more and give yourself a real treat this week.
Or try out a couple of my favourites; a few quid more but won’t disappoint:
Whatever you choose just let us know what you think!