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New Zealand Chardonnay: Panel tasting results

It’s all a question of balance, says Rebecca Gibb MW...

New Zealand Chardonnay may have been out of the spotlight of late, but the wines are enjoying a revival of interest.

For a heady decade, Chardonnay was the darling of the New Zealand wine industry. The prolific German cross Müller-Thurgau was finally toppled from the top spot in 1993, following a government-sponsored vine-pull scheme encouraging growers to uproot such overproductive undesirables, and Chardonnay became the country’s most-planted variety.

Quick Link: View all 92 wines from this panel tasting

3,116ha planted, representing 8.4% of total vineyard area
Most planted NZ variety 1993-2003
Third most-planted NZ variety 2017
Fourth most-exported NZ variety 2017

Vintage Overview

2016 Warm, often humid. But the April harvest was dry, sunny and large, with large berries. Excellent for white wines.

2015 Dry and warm. A small, low-yielding crop after early frost and cool flowering produced ripe, concentrated whites.

2014 A record early vintage (at both start and finish), as well as a warm, dry summer with little disease pressure. Did the winemakers speak too soon about 2013 being the vintage of a lifetime?

2013 Widespread drought, yet hailed as the vintage of a lifetime by many producers. Warm, dry summer and autumn produced ripe whites and reds.

2012 Cool summer and late harvest with slow ripening of whites resulted in low yields and intense wines with lively acidity. Ripe, warm Central Otago is the exception.

Top New Zealand Chardonnay from the panel tasting:

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