Chardonnay is a grape that grows somewhere in nearly every wine growing region in the world. Why? Well it’s because it can grow in so many places. It’s a great grape for new wine areas to test themselves. Are there are few newer than New Zealand.
Back in the 70s, when New Zealand wine was really starting out, it was planted all over both islands. The great sunshine and cooling winds, oceans, and hills meant that Chardonnay could ripen slowly, with great acidity, and lots of tropical fruit flavours.
Then it all changed, sort of. In the 80s and 90s the worldwide smash that is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc hit the market, closely followed by the equally phenomenal Pinot Noirs from down there too. Cue the vine pulls of Chardonnay and bring on the mass production of country’s wine icons.
Of course there were places in New Zealand where Chardonnay kept a strong hold. In areas like Gisbourne and Hawke’s Bay in the North Island, and Nelson and Central Otago in the South Island, it was developing nicely and producers were learning from the internationally noticed mistakes of Australia and the US in terms of over or under oaking.
So the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir craze is cooling off, as wine geeks we’re always after what’s next? Well New Zealand has always had this classic waiting in the wings. Don’t miss out!
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