The New Zealand chardonnay consumer challenge

Kingsley Wood in his wine shop First Glass Wines & Spirits. Bob Campbell MW

First Glass Wines and Spirits is a lively retailer in Takapuna run by Kingsley Wood. Once a week the store holds comprehensive wine tastings with impressive wines and often with excellent speakers. The store can hold over 100 people for stand-up tastings and typically attracts 70 or more enthusiasts.

The shop recently invited its customers, through its weekly newsletter, to list their top New Zealand chardonnays.

Chardonnay is the store’s top-selling white wine. Kingsley famously prefers the ‘big and buttery’ style but otherwise has quite good taste in wine.

The shop recently invited its customers, through its weekly newsletter, to list their top New Zealand chardonnays. They could be at any price, value or vintage. Here is the Top Ten list from 1 (1st) to tenth:

A competition invited customers to predict the top five wines in order. Congratulations to winner, David Walker Bell, who correctly listed No1, No2, No3, and No5. His other pick was in the Top 10.

Finally, Kingsley staged a super-tasting using the Top 10 wines. All the wines were made in New Zealand so he added an NZD $135 Puligny-Montrachet and an NZD $150 Leeuwin Estate from Margaret River ‘to make it interesting’. The wines were served blind.

Kingsley reported: “The wine of the night was Church Road TOM Hawke’s Bay 2020. Eleven of our 36-strong tasting group would rate this wine 97/100. It is drinking beautifully. It retails for around NZD $150.”

The tasting was a cracker. A little difficult to identify the top wines at the actual tasting as choices were divided. However the Church Road TOM Chardonnay 2020 was the clear winner—a beautiful wine.

Clearview Reserve Chardonnay 2022 and Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2022 made up the top three.

There was solid support for Giesen Clayvin Chardonnay 2018, terrific wine with the advantage of a lot of age. All wines were served blind and there were many who rated the Brancott ‘O’ Chardonnay 2022 as their favourite wine overall. New Zealand chardonnays are in good heart from those good vintages, 2018-2022.

2 thoughts on “The New Zealand chardonnay consumer challenge”

  1. Avatar
    Nic says:

    I know it was in some sort of heat but the comment denigrating big and buttery Chardonnay (which is superior to all others) is a disappointing criticism. I have a sense of humour but not for this ageing criticism.

    1. Avatar
      morty says:

      When it comes to chardonnay, the professional academic wine critics and wine writers love to praise ‘minerality, oysters shell, salinity, elegance, tautness, citrus’. But experienced chardonnay customers who have been drinking chardonnay for years and actually pay the money more typically like ‘butteriness, tropical fruit, wood, toastiness, power’. When a professional wine critic writes about the former and gives the wine a high score, I run a mile because the wine won’t taste good. Brancott ‘O’ Series doesn’t suit the ‘elegance’ academics but tastes like $50.

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