Have you heard the news? The 26th of May 2023 marks International Chardonnay Day!
To celebrate, we’re throwing it back to issue #97 in 2021, where Drinks Editor, Yvonne, and the tasting panel made their way through 123 entries of chardonnay to round-up the best of the best!
Whilst we at dish look forward to the results of every Tasting Panel, the chardonnay results seem to always generate an electric sort of excitement. There is much wringing of hands, nibbling of nails and chewing of cheek amongst our team to find out who will top our list and for our judges, while chardonnay is, for the most part, highly delicious, it’s a tough job.
Tough because swirling, sniffing, sipping, slurping and spitting their way through 123 entries, plus recalls and rankings, takes its toll on the teeth and turns them into something resembling baked beans, but this year the standard definitely brought the grins.
The entries were expertly shepherded blind to our judges by New Zealand’s top back-room team supervised by Janet Blackman. No fewer than ten gold medals were awarded, and such was the impeccable quality of our top two, our usually highly collegial team of judges had to have cups of cold water hurled at them to stop biffo from breaking out over which one would rule. We’re lovers not fighters at dish, so a first-equal situation was declared, and much mirth occurred when it was revealed that Wairau River and Nautilus Estate are literally located across the road from one another!
Here were our top three picks from the round-up!
1. Wairau River Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2020 ($30) Gold Medal
"This is a wine that smells so good I'm struggling to wrest it away from my nose long enough to actually taste it!" said Yvonne. "It's so vibrant, alive and saturated with flavour." Rebecca loved its clean, balanced use of sulphides and notes of oatmeal and straw: "It has a lovely acid line that slices through notes of popcorn, buttered toast and lemon zest." Cameron agreed, noting its intense toasty richness, citrus complexity and cashew nut creaminess. Outstanding.
2. Nautilus Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2020 ($39.95) Gold Medal
With buckets of toasty oak, popcorn, bacon and citrus on the nose, this chardonnay is a bold style with supermodel sleekness. Cameron and Rebecca immediately remarked on how well made this wine is. “Classic, clean grapefruit, butterscotch, tropical notes and layers of apricot,” noted Rebecca. Yvonne was seduced by its powerful generosity and stonefruit saturation. This chardonnay is world class.
3. Osawa Wines Prestige Collection Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2019 ($60) Gold Medal
"Roasty, toasty, this chardonnay is up there with the mosty. A powerful, barrel-fermented style, bursting with scorched peach, caramelised oak notes, spiced lemon and crushed-almond aromatics. “I love the flinty, gunsmoke and charred wood notes,” said Rebecca, while Yvonne felt it stood out for how it unveils so many different dimensions of flavour as it opens up in the glass. This vintage is a huge step-up in quality for this tiny Hawke’s Bay winery.
There’s a plethora of chardonnay styles now available on our shop shelves, from pure, flinty, Chablis-like styles; juicy, tropical fruit-bombs; buttery, nutty numbers; and funky, struck-match-packed sulphidic examples, it’s clear winemakers are pushing the bounds as far as possible in all directions, and we at dish think that’s a great thing. So, we hope you make the most of this delightful day and enjoy it with good company – cheers.
Enter the dish tasting panel:
Bring on the Big Reds
Our next dish Tasting Panel will focus on New Zealand Reds . Results to be published in issue 115 of dish, on-sale 13 May 2024. Entries close on Wednesday 20th March. We'd love to see your wines so please enter here!