I was fortunate to attend the 2010 International Chardonnay Challenge forum and awards dinner last week.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Prue Younger and her team of helpers and judges for a wonderful event. With the rise of wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, Chardonnay has suffered a decline in consumption but it still occupies the position of being the number 1 preferred white wine in the world and the most planted white grape variety.
The reason for this is simple, well made Chardonnay is beautiful.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has put the New Zealand wine industry on the map and for that we must toast the skilled winemakers for this, but these same winemakers do not just devote their energy and passion solely to Sauvignon Blanc. The true test of their skills and abilities comes when wines are made requiring more influences and expertise other than stainless steel tank fermentation. The white wine that challenges winemakers around the world like no other is Chardonnay. What other grape is perfectly matched to oak in so many different ways, big rich oak, soft subtle oak, warm toasty, buttery oak. How about a wine that displays elegant fruit characters of fresh nectarine, peach and citrus and with the skilled winemaker as its friend, glide over the palate with seamless finesse, caressing the senses with soft creams and buttery characters.
This is the realm of the King of white wines, Chardonnay, a wine that challenges the winemaker and delights the drinker. There will always be usurpers to the crown but that is only what they will be. Chardonnay has and will be the choice of white wine that continues to delight and amaze the wine novice and expert, no other white wine has the strength of character and the ability to achieve this.
Go on New Zealand, embrace Chardonnay again. Get out there and buy a rich and toasty Gisborne, a vibrant and fresh Marlborough or a mouth filling, buttery Hawkes Bay, you will be amazed how New Zealand Chardonnay has evolved.
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