The results of the New Zealand Chardonnay tasting in Cuisine magazine No.152 for May 2012 confirm the growing confidence among this country’s winemakers in making diverse styles with the variety. Panel chair John Belsham reports “The diversity of styles is a fantastic development…this year we were…comparing the merits of various styles.” This parallels the trend for greater elegance as rewarded in the wine shows of late where tighter and more refined wines, no less powerful or complex, but much more capable of aging well are being recognised. Also, 49 of the 153 wines judged were rated 4-stars or higher, indicating the greater availability of high quality Chardonnay.
While the Cuisine panel celebrated Chardonnay diversity, it is interesting to note that almost all of the ‘Top 10′ wines, all awarded 5-stars, are in the bigger, strong oak influenced and complex style. Where were the unoaked, lighter and more pure styles? I venture to say that the Cuisine results reflect those seen at wine shows. In competitions with any substantial numbers to judge, the larger, more oaky wines tend to come through, regardless of how hard the judges look for the lighter, fruit-driven styles. The Cuisine 5-star wines are all excellent in any case.
This issue of Cuisine also judged ‘Emerging Whites’ to cover innovative varieties and styles. Continuing the Viognier and Coopers Creek success, the top wine here was the Coopers Creek Gisborne ‘Cee Vee’ 2010, a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. www.cuisine.co.nz