Crystal ball gazing – Chardonnay comes of age in New Zealand

Good news: Kiwi Chardonnay is flying high

Posted 18 January 2015

First published in Living magazine in The Herald on Sunday, Sunday 18 January 2015.

It’s time to polish the crystal ball and gaze into what the year ahead will bring. I’m predicting the comeback of the wine that first swept me off my feet; big buttery chardonnay. Who could fail to love those hot buttered popcorn flavours of chardonnays back in the 1980s and ‘90s? The taste of the first creamy chardonnay I ever tried still lingers on my lips, as do the flavours of the wine I was head over heels about; Matua Valley Judd Estate Chardonnay. For a decade back then, Chardonnay was bigger than Texas in New Zealand; there was more of it than Sauvignon Blanc, but these days it’s been eclipsed by savvy and pinot noir, while pinot gris is nipping at its heels. The good news is: Kiwi chardonnays taste better than ever. They still have the buttery bells but the whistles are fresher flavours and wines that improve in the cellar for five to 10 years. Here’s a bunch of the best.

Big buttery beauties

2012 Giesen Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay
2013 Church Road Chardonnay
2012 Dog Point Chardonnay
2011 Greywacke Chardonnay
2012 Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay
2013 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay
2013 Sacred Hill Virgin Chardonnay
2013 Te Kairanga John Martin Chardonnay

Additional note…

And that is the tip of a very long iceberg of big, beautiful Chardonnays; an increasing number of which come from the South Island. Chardonnay devotees should also look for wines from these brands to be wooed and wowed by: Black Estate, Esk Valley, Felton Road, Main Divide, Pegasus Bay, Trinity Hill and Villa Maria (check out ‘Keltern Chardonnay’ in particular from Villa and prepare to be smitten).