A pair of pricey chardonnays

Vidal Estate winemaker Hugh Crichton (Photo: Vidal Estate)

Two top-scoring wines at reassuringly expensive prices appeared on my tasting bench recently. I didn’t taste them together, although I did taste them on the same day so it wasn’t exactly a head-to-head comparison. Both are truly excellent wines.

It’s well-known that I have only awarded 100 points to one wine so far – 2014 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay. I love the tautness, tension and chalky minerality so often found in Moutere Chardonnay, but felt the burden when I reviewed the 2015 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay so much that I opened a precious bottle (my second-to-last) of 2014 alongside it before arriving at a score of 98 points. I’d love to have done the same when I tasted the 2016 but didn’t have a comparative vintage on hand.

The 2016 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay is a marvellous wine but lacks the focus, tautness and tension of the 2014 and 2015 vintages. It’s a concentrated wine and perhaps slightly more accessible. When it’s time to taste the 2017 vintage I’d dearly love to taste it alongside the three earlier wines. I tasted the 2016 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay for a second time a few days after the first and wondered then whether it deserved a score upgrade.

Weighing in at NZD $120, the brand new 2014 Vidal 1888 from the Lyons vineyard is a big statement. It’s double the price of the previous flagship 2014 Vidal Legacy Chardonnay (to choose a comparative vintage) but is certainly not twice the quality. However, price does not have a direct relationship with quality. Expect to pay a lot more for every increment in quality.

The same applies to cars. If speed’s your thing you might have to pay, say NZD $20K to buy a car that will do 160 kph, but if you want a vehicle to propel you at up to 230 kph you might expect to pay NZD $40K.

Would you rather have two bottles of 2014 Vidal Legacy Chardonnay or one of 2014 Vidal 1888 Chardonnay? I’d go for the two bottle option, but then I have already tasted the 1888.

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