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New Zealand: Top 20 white wines of DWWA 2020

To celebrate New Zealand Wine Week, discover the country's top-scoring white wines from the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020...

Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s calling card’ commented Rebecca Gibb MW, Regional Chair for New Zealand at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020, but she added, ‘New Zealand makes excellent Chardonnay that continues to be underrated.’

From fresh and fruit-driven to creamy and textured examples, New Zealand Chardonnay is produced in a range of styles and is quickly becoming a benchmark. DWWA results are telling of this with results for New Zealand Chardonnay up year on year – 67 wines were awarded a Bronze medal or above at DWWA 2020 as compared to 53 in 2019 and 39 in 2018.

But it’s not just Chardonnay that’s vying for attention. Other white varieties such as Grüner Veltliner and Albariño are gaining increasing recognition too, and making their way onto the list of New Zealand’s top-scoring white wines at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020.


Read more – New Zealand: Beyond Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir

Premium: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: 20 from 2020


With 253 white wines from New Zealand awarded a Bronze medal or above, here we highlight 20 top award-winning wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Albariño and Pinot Gris…

Click here to learn about New Zealand Wine Week (8-12 February 2021) and take part in virtual activities planned across the USA, UK, Ireland and Canada.

New Zealand: Top 20 white wines of DWWA 2020

Marlborough

Yealands Estate, Single Block L5 Sauvignon Blanc, Awatere Valley 2019

Yealands L5Best in Show, 97 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Are you ready for this? Raw, savage, primitive, primeval and confronting: these aren’t, perhaps, the adjectives we most readily associate with the always-accomplished wines of New Zealand, but the full-frontal assault of vegetative and green-fruit splendour in this Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc sets it apart as an indigenous style maxxed out to the full. You can smell it at three paces, and once in the mouth the wine is a kind of hand-grenade of springtime flowers and early-season fruits. This is clearly a wine where origin is to the fore, and while some are going to love it, it may leave others disconcerted. If you’re in the latter category, persist nonetheless: while new styles of beauty seem strange at first, we soon come to learn their language – and are grateful.

Brancott Estate, Letter Series O Chardonnay 2018

Gold, 95 points
100% Chardonnay
Gorgeous reductive, smoke, lemon peel and white peach scents. Lovely nutty note on the palate, then a long, racy finish. Superb now, but if you can keep your hands off it, there’s even more in store.

Villa Maria, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Taylors Pass 2019

Gold, 95 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Superb wine with notes of flint, herbs, peach, nectarine and honeysuckle. The flavours continue for quite a while on the palate. Really lovely, impressive and complex stuff, topped and tailed by lemony acidity.

te Pā, Oke Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Silver, 93 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Very poised, focused purity and concentration on the bouquet. Impressively complex, this has enticing blackcurrant and gooseberry flavours and a really long, elegant finish. Superb.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Rimapere, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Silver, 92 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Clean, crisp and fresh with simple honeydew melon characteristics. There’s power and intensity here providing lots of drive and richness. Stylistic and structural example.

Isabel Estate, Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Silver, 92 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
An overt style with masses of green pea, nettle and passionfruit. In the mouth, there’s fruit sweetness and bags of rich flavour. Moderate length.

Lake Chalice, The Raptor Chardonnay 2018

Silver, 92 points
100% Chardonnay
Lovely fresh, clean lively fruit on the nose with more than a hint of class. This is very well made and has admirable depth. Very attractive.

The Hunting Lodge, Expressions Vibrant Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Silver, 92 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Reductive struck match nose with both ripe tropical fruit and green pea notes in the mouth. Commercial and attractive.

Villa Maria, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau Valley 2019

Silver, 92 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Really rounded and textured palate with phenolic grip make this perfect for food pairings. Eminently satisfying with a very long, silky and perfumed finish.

Wairau River, Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Silver, 92 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Zingy citrus and flinty nose. Fresh, firm and precise in the mouth, this has a long mineral finish and will be an excellent food match.

Marisco, The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris 2018

Silver, 91 points
93% Pinot Gris, 7% Gewürztraminer
Lovely floral and spicy lift from the high proportion of Gewürztraminer. It’s clean and well made with excellent concentration and follow through.

Stoneleigh, Riesling 2019

Silver, 90 points
100% Riesling
A richly-fruited, fresh and zingy wine with a pure lime character. Drink on its own or with a light dish.

Yealands, Single Vineyard Grüner Veltliner, Awatere Valley 2019

Silver, 90 points
100% Grüner Veltliner
This is a fresh medium-bodied example with apple fruit, comice pear and a hint of spice – varietal clarity. Precise, clean and honest.

Auckland 

Cable Bay, Chardonnay, Waiheke Island 2017

Silver, 91 points
100% Chardonnay
An elegant style with noteworthy precision and tension; plenty of acidity here, too, plus vivid white stone fruit flavours. Long finish.

Gisborne

Leftfield, Albariño 2019

Silver, 91 points
100% Albariño
Richly aromatic, weighty style with marked roundness and classic peach, mid-palate weight. Provides enjoyable youthful drinking now.

Hawke’s Bay

Church Road, Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2018

Silver, 92 points
100% Chardonnay
Honeydew melon and oak-derived, toasty flavours combine in this mid-weight Chardonnay which has a creamy, suave concentration and medium length.

Sacred Hill, Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2018

Silver, 92 points
100% Chardonnay
Rich buttery nose with some citrus. Rich and flavoursome palate with well judged oak; there’s a lot of focus and drive here. One for the future.

Te Awanga Estate, Trademark Chardonnay 2018

Silver, 92 points
100% Chardonnay
Enticing citrus and smoky oak scents. Rich and textural on the palate with layers of flavour on the long finish. Good potential.

Te Awanga Estate, Quarter Acre Viognier, Bridge Pa 2018

Silver, 91 points
100% Viognier
Highly varietal peach, orange and rose petal characteristics on the nose and rich palate. Long, creamy finish.

Wairarapa

Matahiwi Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, Masterton 2019

Silver, 91 points
100% Sauvignon Blanc
A varietal nose offering gooseberry and citrus. The palate offers some nice weight too but there’s good tension and freshness. Pithy finish.


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