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Last week we attended the annual Australia & New Zealand winemaker’s tour road show run by our distributors, Negociants New Zealand.  This 4 city whirlwind trip involves a bunch of Ozzie & NZ winemakers showing of their wines & certainly a fun time is had by all.  Each day started with a series of master classes and Nautilus Chardonnay featured in the master class ‘ABC to BBC’.  The theme was the rising popularity of Chardonnay.  No longer is it ‘ABC’ or anything but chardonnay, now it is ‘BBC’ or bring back chardonnay.  Wines from around the country were shown from 2013 back to 2008 and we showed our recently released 2013 vintage.  There were a few take home points from the sessions.  On the winemaking side it is remarkable how similarly we are all making the wines.  Most are following a minimal intervention, hands off approach in handling the fruit and a common theme is a reduction in the amount of malolactic fermentation of ‘mlf’.  This secondary fermentation of malic acid to lactic acid softens the acidity but can contribute a ‘buttery’ character to the wine.  Like most things, in moderation it is seen as a positive, but in excess it can dominate the fruit character of the wine.  These ‘new generation’ chardonnays have loads of complexity but they also retain some freshness and I believe this is the key to their increasing popularity.  Nobody wants to drink a wine that is like licking the mantel piece (ie over oaked) and is fat & flabby (ie picked too ripe & over worked).   While the winemaking may be very similar the vineyard site always shines through and gives each wine its personality.  Quality chardonnay ages well as demonstrated by the Huia 2008 Marlborough Chardonnay that was a delicious drink at 6 years post vintage.  Our friends in the retail and restaurant trade also indicated there customers are more interested in Chardonnay these days so if you haven’t tried an NZ chardonnay recently give one a go.  Our delightful 2013 Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay has just been released and if it follows the trend of the previous vintages (which I am sure it will) then it won’t be around for too long.

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