24 Nov 2014

Chardonnay making a comeback

5:41 pm on 24 November 2014

After a Hawke's Bay chardonnay took the top prize at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, it seems the grape variety is making a comeback.

Numerous chardonnays did very well at the awards and Vidal Estate, one of the country's oldest wineries, won the Champion of the Show Trophy for its Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013.

Chardonnay grapes.

Chardonnay grapes. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The chair of the judges and master of wine, Michael Brajkovich, said the wine is a fine example of a new wave of chardonnay that is sweeping the industry.

"This particular wine is an excellent example of the more reductive style of wine making that's pretty much in fashion at the moment. But it's the fruit quality that shines through as well. It comes from a very gravelly patch of ground in Hawke's Bay and the grapes get very ripe, with very strong peachy characters along with the slight reductive character and beautifully handled oak. It's delightful, long tasting glass of wine on the mouth as well."

Mr Brajkovich said it's been a bit of a bumpy road for the grape variety.

"Chardonnay when it first arrived on the scene in the 1970s in a big way was very trendy and it is the variety I believe that makes the best dry white wines in the world because, like no other white variety, it has the ability to get texture and weight on the palate.

"If a little bit of something is good, then people tend to think that a lot of it is better, and wine makers tended to overdo the oak and the buttery component and the alcohol and they just became a little bit too fat and chewy and not so interesting.

"In more recent times, we've gone back to looking for fruit characters and length on the palate and the ability to go with food and the ability to still have a refreshing quality, rather than being tiring. We're seeing some very exciting styles coming from cooler climate parts of the world and New Zealand is very much part of that."

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