NZ’s best Chardonnays not reaching UK

Britain is missing out on some of New Zealand’s best wines, in particular its top Chardonnays, according to Sir Lockwood Smith, the High Commissioner of New Zealand to the UK.

Sir Lockwood Smith

New Zealand’s best Chardonnays are not reaching the UK, according to Sir Lockwood Smith

“I think too many great New Zealand wines are not available in London,” he said when addressing 120 people at the Vintners’ Wine Trade Lunch on Friday (10 January), where Sir Lockwood Smith was guest speaker.

While acknowledging the presence of some “great” Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs from New Zealand in the UK, he said that he struggled to find top Chardonnays from his home country in the shops and restaurants of Britain.

“Our best Chardonnays are stunning and they are not available in London,” he stated, adding that he now brings them over himself.

Stressing that such wines would be well received in the UK market, he said they would be liked by “anyone who enjoys white Burgundy”.

He also said that he served both New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay at a recent event in London for 40 people, and, by the end of the evening, all his guests were drinking Chardonnay, suggesting Brits may prefer the taste of the grape, despite the Anything but Chardonnay (ABC) sentiment that has been prevalent in the market.

Summing up he said, “Pinot Noir is the prince of wine, and the princess is Chardonnay.”

Certainly db has reported extensively on the quality of New Zealand Chardonnay and, one of the best performing wines in the drinks business Chardonnay Masters 2013 was New Zealand’s Matua brand, with its Chardonnays from Marlborough receiving golds in two consecutive vintages.

Meanwhile, Sir Lockwood Smith described the evolution of the New Zealand wine industry as “a story of innovation, courageousness, screwcaps and stainless steel, and exceptional fruit quality”.

Now in its second year, The Vintners’ Company Wine Trade Lunch is designed for the British wine trade to get together in Vintners’ Hall and enjoy excellent food and wine, as well as meet friends and competitors.

All the proceeds from ticket sales are passed by the Vintners’ Company direct to The Benevolent, meaning that this year’s lunch raised almost £10,000 for the drinks industry’s charity.

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