Q&A: Nadine Worley of Mud House

Nadine Worley, winemaker at Mud House in New Zealand, highlights the Sauvignon Blanc stronghold of Marlborough as a source of some top spots for Chardonnay.

Nadine WorleyWhat factors in your view makes a Chardonnay great?

Like all great wines, great Chardonnay comes from great vineyard sites. After that it is all about balance with Chardonnay. There is often so much going on in the glass – the winemaker has to be able to balance the subtle varietal characters and the textural components like acid and minerality with the secondary characters like malolactic fermentation, oak use and time on yeast lees. It is how all these factors play off and interact with each other that make a great Chardonnay.

Which regions of the world, other than your own, have the potential to produce high quality and distinctive Chardonnay?

There are so many regions that have the potential to produce outstanding Chardonnay, but recently I have tried a few Tumburumba Chardonnays. It is a cool alpine region in New South Wales, Australia that is producing fine, well-balanced Chardonnays with wonderful citrus and stone fruit flavours – not at all like the overblown Australian Chardonnays of the ‘90s.

But I also need to fly the flag for New Zealand and our potential to make outstanding yet underrated cool climate Chardonnay. Our vineyard the Hungry Hill in the Ure Valley is our most southern valley in Marlborough, situated 1km from the Pacific Coast. The river gravel and lime stone chip soils are unique in Marlborough offering wines of well-structured acidity, fine aromatics and minerality. The narrow valley is exposed to cooling sea breezes which moderate the summer temperatures.

Is there a winemaker or wine whose expression of Chardonnay inspires you?

It has to be a Chablis. When we were in France a few years ago we visited the cellar at Dauvissat. The wines are definitely worthy of their reputation – I love the purity and intensity of all his wines.


the drinks business Global Chardonnay Masters 2013 takes place in September. Presided over by a panel of Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, rather than being judged by country, each Chardonnay is assessed by style and price.

Those interested in entering the competition can do so here. The deadline for entries is 13 September.


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