Top ten chardonnay tasting

Chardonnay grapes

My last “Campbell at Caro’s” wine tasting featured my top ten chardonnays tasted in 2016. I compiled the list by simply selecting all NZ chardonnays tasted this year and sorting them by score, then price to identify the top ten. One or two of my favourites, such as Bell Hill, were unavailable but the list seemed to feature most of the heavyweights.

76 people joined me at Caro Wines’ Grey Lynn wine tasting room. The wines were pre-poured in the order below as the guests arrived. We tasted them in three flights (1-3, 4-6, 7-10) voting on a favourite for each flight then voted for an overall favourite. Prices shown are Caro shelf prices.

  1. Felton Road 2014 Block 2 Chardonnay, Central Otago $53.99
  2. Giesen 2013 “The Fuder” Clayvin Chardonnay, Marlborough $55.99
  3. Cloudy Bay 2013 Chardonnay, Marlborough $39.99
  4. Dog Point 2014 Chardonnay, Marlborough $39.99
  5. Neudorf 2015 Moutere Chardonnay, Nelson N/A
  6. Dry River 2014 Chardonnay, Martinborough $59.99 (cork)
  7. Martinborough Vineyard 2014 Chardonnay $35.99
  8. Vidal 2014 “Legacy” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay $58.99
  9. Sacred Hill 2014 Rifleman’s Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay $66.99
  10. Kumeu River 2015 Mate’s Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay $68.99

And the winner was … Sacred Hill 2014 Rifleman’s Chardonnay with Neudorf 2015 Moutere in second place and Dry River 2014 Chardonnay third.

My original scores placed the Neudorf 2015 Moutere (98 points) ahead of Sacred Hill 2014 Rifleman’s (97 points), but I had to admit that on a head-to-head tasting the Rifleman’s was a very worthy winner indeed. It has great concentration, fruit power and purity with an impressive thread of mineral, struck flint character providing extra complexity.

It was a very strong field indeed. Martinborough Vineyard earned my vote for “best value chardonnay” – a beautifully sculpted wine perhaps without the power of the winners but very classy nonetheless and with more accessibility than many.

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