New Zealand wines shine at UK Chardonnay Challenge

The Kumeu River Wines vineyards. (Photo: Auckland NZ website)

UK chardonnay lovers Keith Prothero and Paul Day (they describe themselves as “obsessive oenophiles”) decided to test the assertion that,

“prices of Burgundy bear no relation to their quality and that the New World has more than enough well-priced prime talent to challenge for Burgundy’s unassailable crown.”

The Great Blind Chardonnay Challenge was born. The idea was simple — they would pitch 10 of the world’s best New World chardonnays against 10 of Burgundies finest with no price limit set for either camp but with wines being drawn from recent vintages, mostly post-2011, and all commercially available in the UK.

The idea was simple — they would pitch 10 of the world’s best New World chardonnays against 10 of Burgundies finest with no price limit set for either camp.

After multiple blind tastings, 10 wines from Burgundy and 10 from the New World were chosen. The wines were randomised and served blind to 12 tasters made up of experienced Burgundy collectors and several trade professionals.

Wines from the New World comprised:

  • NZ x 2
  • USA x 4
  • Australia x 4

The Group’s Top Five Wines (out of 20)

  1. Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet 2014
  2. A. Ente Meursault Clos des Ambres 2014
  3. Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay 2014
  4. Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2014
  5. Sandhi Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay 2011

That’s a great result for New Zealand chardonnay and particularly for Kumeu River and Neudorf (I awarded the 2014 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay my only 100-point score). When Kumeu River had a great success in an extensive comparative tasting against Burgundy a couple of years ago winemaker, Michael Brajkovich said – “I’m not surprised. We use screwcaps, they don’t.”

Did closures give the two New Zealand wines a leg up in this case? It’s entirely possible. As far as I can tell the majority of wines in the tasting were sealed with cork.

One thought on “New Zealand wines shine at UK Chardonnay Challenge”

  1. Mahmoud Ali says:

    Hmm, if screwcaps were responsible for the performance of the New Zealand wines, then it takes the shine off the terroir and winemaking skills, because the corollary suggests that the Burgundy wines might have bettered the New Zealand wines had they been under screwcap. I’m not sure I agree with the premise.

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