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Chardonnay Masters 2013: The medalists

A select group of judges put aside preconceived ideas about this global grape variety as wines were appraised on style not region. Here we list all the Chardonnays that received a medal.

Chardonnay MastersOF ALL the world’s grape varieties, no other can match Chardonnay for its geographical reach and stylistic virtuosity. From the great grands crus of the Côtes de Beaune to the “sunshine in a bottle” that represents many people’s introduction to wine, Chardonnay mingles seamlessly with aristocracy and proletariat alike. The flip side of this virtuosity means that, more than any other variety, Chardonnay is particularly susceptible to fashion, making itself loved, derided and misunderstood in equal measures. What better candidate therefore with which to expand The Drinks Business Masters series?

Unsurprisingly for a variety which so often reflects winemaking technique as much, if not more, than any strong sense of place, the results offer an intriguing picture of which regions and producers are getting this balance right. Of course, deciding where that balance lies can prove highly subjective and provoked some lively discussion among judges. The interplay of factors such as fruit ripeness, oak, alcohol, acidity, residual sugar, malolactic fermentation, battonage and oxygen management requires deft decision making by winemakers.

Crucially, however, the end result should not distract the drinker by displaying its vinification too overtly, but rise above the sum of its parts to create a harmonious whole. The hundreds of wines entered into this inaugural Global Chardonnay Masters representing no fewer than 18 different countries demonstrated that winemakers today, from all parts of the world, are rising admirably to this challenge.

“The tasting reminded me why Chardonnay is such a hugely successful grape,” summed up Sebastian Payne MW, buyer for The Wine Society. “Its bouquet relatively seldom shouts at you, unlike Sauvignon or Gewürztraminer or even Riesling, but the flavour is satisfactorily full and rounded, never aggressive or over-acidic, and its wines are splendidly versatile when you eat.”

CORRECT BALANCE

Meanwhile Justin Knock MW, a winemaking consultant for clients in South America, the UK, Spain and his native Australia, commented on some of the current stylistic trends demonstrated by this competition. As a general observation, he noted: “In my view winemakers in pursuit of less overt ripeness are making better wines.” In terms of vinification, Knock found “oak was generally very well handled”, adding: “I noticed that some viscous, buttery malolactic fermentation characters are making a return – perhaps in view of finding acid balance in earlier picked styles.” Hailing this evolution as a “welcome return”, he argued: “It has a natural place in truly great, complex, textured Chardonnay.”

What’s more, Knock noted the appeal on offer even among more modestly priced wines. “It was great to see that even at entry level prices wines are showing better balance, even when in a more overt and predictable style,” he commented. “It shows that Chardonnay has multiple dimensions and that people are open to a wide range of styles.”
For consultant Richard Bampfield MW, the entries offered a valuable update on what we can now expect from a variety which is so prone to the pendulum swing of fashion. “A few years ago, I think that such a tasting would have featured wines showing more evident development, probably more evident oak and more overt smoothness and roundness,” he suggested. “Nowadays the aim is for a fresher style, almost as if the wines have been blended with some Sauvignon.”

In Bampfield’s view, this evolution marks a positive step for Chardonnay. “I think this is a healthier direction with the proviso that higher levels of acidity also require a reasonable level of ripeness to ensure a balanced result,” he concluded.

The judges may not have known the origin of the wines in each flight, but some regions certainly met their exacting criteria with greater regularity than others. While there were pockets of brilliance from individual producers across the globe, a number of regions stood out for the consistently exceptional quality of their Chardonnay.

SOUTHERN COMFORT

Within a strong overall performance from Australia, the Adelaide Hills and Margaret River shone particularly bright. California’s rich, buttery style can divide opinion among European palates, but the judges were quick to reward those achieving elegance alongside generosity. Meanwhile, in South Africa it was the cooler climate regions of Elgin and Walker Bay which impressed judges with the freshness and poise of their Chardonnay. For a while now there have been enthusiastic noises about the underrated quality of New Zealand Chardonnay, so long overshadowed by the country’s popular Sauvignon Blanc.

The entries this year reinforced this impression, showing that Marlborough today has more than one trick up its sleeve. And finally, let’s not forget France. No doubt aware of the contenders seeking to knock them from their pedestal, Burgundian entries made up a relatively small proportion of the wines judged. Of these, many acquitted themselves with distinction; however, Payne used the quality of the competition to warn: “Burgundy, particularly the Côte d’Or, needs to look to its laurels and

FRENCH STYLE

Of course, Burgundy is not the only corner of France that understands how to make excellent Chardonnay, a fact reflected in the impressive medal haul from Champagne, whose blanc de blancs continues to set an ambitious benchmark for the growing number of styles emerging in the ever more dynamic sparkling wine sector. In short, the inaugural Global Chardonnay Masters presented a compelling snapshot of this extraordinarily versatile variety, which is capable of offering enormous pleasure in just about every price point and country you care to imagine.

What’s more, Chardonnay producers are not ones to stagnate: this is not only a commercially crucial category, but one that rewards regular reassessment.

Sparkling Chardonnay
Company Product Name Medal Country Vintage Price(£)
Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Master France 2005 30+
Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Chardonnay Gold France 2005 20-30
Champagne Cattier Cattier Brut Blanc de Blancs Signature Gold France NV 30+
Champagne Cattier Cattier Brut Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Gold France NV 30+
Champagne Gosset Champagne Gosset Blanc de Blancs NV Gold France NV 30+
Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Chardonnay Gold France 2005 30+
Edoardo Miroglio Edoardo Miroglio Blanc de Blancs, Brut NV Silver Bulgaria NV 10-20
Nosio Rotari Cuvee 28 100% Chardonnay NV Silver Italy NV 10-20
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires Millesime Silver France 1995 30+
Barokes Wines Barokes Bubbly Chardonnay NV Bronze Australia NV 0-10
Unoaked Chardonnay
Company Product Name Medal Country Vintage Price (£)
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Wild Ferment Master Australia 2011 0-10
William Fèvre Chablis Domaine Gold France 2012 10-20
Domaine Laroche Saint Martin Chablis Gold France 2012 10-20
Nosio Castel Firmian Chardonnay DOC Trentino Gold Italy 2012 0-10
Torres Torres Milmanda Gold Spain 2012 20-30
Australian Vintage McGuigan Reserve Chardonnay Gold Australia 2012 0-10
Nosio Anterra Chardonnay IGT Sicilia Silver Italy 2012 0-10
Nosio Terre del Noce Chardonnay IGT Dolomiti Silver Italy 2012 0-10
Doolhof Wine Estate Signatures of Doolhof Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2012 30+
González Byass Viñas del Vero Chardonnay Somontano Coleccion Silver Spain 2012 0-10
Nosio Mezzacorona Chardonnay DOC Trentino Classica Silver Italy 2012 0-10
South Coast Winery Chardonnay Sans Chêne Silver USA 2012 0-10
Domaine Laroche Mas La Chevalière Blanc Silver France 2011 10-20
Percy Fox Yellow Tail Unoaked Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2013 0-10
Vina Casas del Bosque Casa Viva Chardonnay Bronze Chile 2012 0-10
Viña Morandé Morandé Pionero Chardonnay Bronze Chile 2012 0-10
Bouchard Finlayson Sans Barrique Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 10-20
Pacta Connect Cattunar Chardonnay Bronze Croatia 2011 10-20
Wellington Wines Wellington Wines Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2013 0-10
Jean-René Germanier Balavaud Chardonnay AOC Valais Bronze Switzerland 2012 10-20
Cobblestone Vineyards Old Vine Chardonnay Bronze USA 2012 10-20
Four Vines Winery Four Vines Unoaked Chardonnay Bronze USA 2011 10-20
Weingut Schales Schales Chardonnay Classic Bronze Germany 2012 0-10
Oaked Chardonnay
Company Product Name Medal Country Vintage Price (£)
Pernod Ricard Jacob’s Creek Adelaide Hills Reserve Chardonnay Master Australia 2012 10-20
Treasury Wine Estates Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay Master Australia 2008 10-20
De Bortoli Wines Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay Gold Australia 2012 10-20
Treasury Wine Estates Wolf Blass President’s Selection Chardonnay Gold Australia 2010 10-20
Paul Cluver Wine Estate Paul Cluver Elgin Chardonnay Gold South Africa 2012 10-20
Crossroads Wines Milestone Series Chardonnay Gold New Zealand 2011 10-20
Creation Wines Creation Chardonnay Gold South Africa 2012 0-10
Delaire Graff Estate Delaire Graff Chardonnay Gold South Africa 2012 0-10
Bird in Hand Bird in Hand Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills Gold Australia 2012 20-30
Howard Park Wines Howard Park Chardonnay Gold Australia 2012 20-30
Marchand & Burch Wines Porongurup Chardonnay Gold Australia 2012 20-30
E&J Gallo Winery Edna Valley Heritage Gold USA 2011 20-30
E&J Gallo Winery Signature Series Russian River Valley Gold USA 2011 20-30
Treasury Wine Estates Heemskerk Coal River Chardonnay Gold Australia 2011 20-30
Jackson Family Wines Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay Gold USA 2010 20-30
Constellation Brands Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay Gold Canada 2009 20-30
Matua Valley Wines Single Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay Gold New Zealand 2012 20-30
Matua Valley Wines Single Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay Gold New Zealand 2011 20-30
E&J Gallo Winery Laguna Russian River Valley Gold USA 2010 20-30
Patz & Hall Wine Co Hyde Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay Gold USA 2011 30+
Monteverro Srl Società Agricola Monteverro Chardonnay Gold Italy 2010 30+
Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills Gold Australia 2010 30+
Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay Silver USA 2012 0-10
Casa Lapostolle Lapostolle Casa 2011 Silver Chile 2011 0-10
Nosio Mezzacorona Chardonnay IGT Dolomiti Silver Italy 2012 0-10
Treasury Wine Estates Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay Silver Australia 2012 0-10
Vina Casas del Bosque Casa Viva Chardonnay Reserva Silver Chile 2012 0-10
Accolade Wines William Hardy Chardonnay, South Australia Silver Australia 2012 0-10
Château Ksara Cuvée du Pape Chardonnay Silver Lebanon 2012 0-10
Distell Nederburg The Manor Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2012 0-10
Boland Cella Boland Cellar Reserve The Geldenhuys Family Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2011 0-10
Viña Morandé Morandé Terrarum Reserva Chardonnay Silver Chile 2011 0-10
Bodegas Trapiche Broquel Chardonnay Silver Argentina 2013 0-10
St Aubyn Leschallas Wines Vondeling Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2010 0-10
Casa Silva Casa Silva Angostura Chardonnay Silver Chile 2012 0-10
Lourensford Wine Estate Winemaker’s Selection Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2012 10-20
De Wetshof Estate De Wetshof Estate ‘The Site’ Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2011 10-20
Mud House Wines Mud House Single Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay Silver New Zealand 2011 10-20
Nautilus Estate Nautilus Estate Marlborough Chardonnay Silver New Zealand 2011 10-20
Meerlust Estate Meerlust Estate Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2010 10-20
Viña Valdivieso Chardonnay Single Vineyard Leyda Silver Chile 2009 10-20
Viña Valdivieso Chardonnay Single Vineyard Leyda Silver Chile 2006 10-20
Viña Maipo Reserva Chardonnay 2012 Silver Chile 2012 10-20
Peter Lehmann Wines Hill & Valley Chardonnay 2012 Silver Australia 2012 10-20
Vergelegen Wines Chardonnay Reserve 2012 Silver South Africa 2012 10-20
Australian Vintage Tempus Two Copper Chardonnay 2012 Silver Australia 2012 10-20
Distell Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay 2012 Silver South Africa 2012 10-20
Rustenberg Wines Stellenbosch Chardonnay Silver Australia 2012 10-20
Wirra Wirra Wirra Wirra 12th Man Silver Australia 2012 10-20
Concha y Toro Bonterra Chardonnay Silver Chile 2011 10-20
Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay Silver Chile 2011 10-20
E&J Gallo Winery MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Silver USA 2011 10-20
Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2011 10-20
Concha y Toro Amelia Silver Chile 2011 10-20
Vergelegen Wines Vergelegen Chardonnay Reserve Silver South Africa 2011 10-20
Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay Silver Australia 2011 10-20
Australian Vintage Nepenthe Ithaca Chardonnay Silver Australia 2012 10-20
Sumaridge Estate Wines Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2011 10-20
Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Chardonnay Silver Australia 2011 10-20
Cobblestone Vineyards Chardonnay Silver USA, New York 2010 10-20
Concha y Toro Maycas Del Limarí Reserva Especial Chardonnay Silver Chile 2009 10-20
GlenWood Vineyards GlenWoodGrand Duc Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2011 20-30
Constellation Brands Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay Silver Canada 2009 20-30
Hamilton Russell Vineyards Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay Silver South Africa 2012 20-30
E&J Gallo Winery Edna Valley Fleur de Edna Silver USA 2011 20-30
Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley Silver USA 2011 20-30
E&J Gallo Winery William Hill Estate Napa Valley Bench Blend Silver USA 2011 20-30
Domaine Faiveley Domaine Faiveley Clos Rochette Mercurey Blanc Monopole Silver France 2011 20-30
William Fèvre Chile Chacai Blanc Silver Chile 2011 20-30
Inman Family Wines Russian River Valley Chardonnay Silver USA 2011 20-30
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay Silver Australia 2011 20-30
Stella Bella Wines Margaret River Silver Australia 2010 20-30
Ste Michelle Wine Estates Canoe Ridge Estate Horse Heaven Hills Silver USA 2010 20-30
Concha y Toro Maycas del Limari Quebrada Seca Silver Chile 2010 20-30
Treasury Wine Estates Wolf Blass White Label Adelaide Hills Silver Australia 2010 20-30
Maison Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Premier Cru Silver France 2009 20-30
Treasury Wine Estates Beringer Private Reserve Silver Australia 2011 30+
Constellation Brands Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Silver Canada 2009 30+
Treasury Wine Estates Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay Adelaide Hills Silver Australia 2012 30+
Stella Bella Wines Margaret River ‘Serie Luminosa’ Silver Australia 2010 30+
Jackson Family Wines Highlands Estates Camelot Highlands Silver USA 2010 30+
Treasury Wine Estates Penfolds Reserve Bin 10A Adelaide Hills Silver Australia 2010 30+
Argento Wine Company Argento Chardonnay Bronze Argentina 2013 0-10
Argento Wine Company Selección Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2013 0-10
Distell Pty Ltd Drostdy Hof Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2013 0-10
Bodega Norton Norton Reserva Chardonnay Bronze Argentina 2012 0-10
Les Vignobles Foncalieu IGP OC Le Versant Chardonnay Bronze France 2012 0-10
Nosio SpA Feudo Arancio Chardonnay Bronze Italy 2012 0-10
Treasury Wine Estates Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2012 0-10
Bodega Catena Zapata Alamos Chardonnay Bronze Argentina 2012 0-10
Bottle Green Ltd Vistamar Sepia Reserve Chardonnay Bronze Chile 2012 0-10
Durbanville Hills Wines Durbanville Hills Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 0-10
Quinta de Maipo Sumaq Chardonnay Bronze Chile 2012 0-10
Camlica Wines Kirklareli Bronze Turkey 2011 0-10
Australian Vintage Limited McGuigan Bin 7000 Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2011 0-10
Wakefield – Taylors Wines St Andrews Chardonnay Clare Valley Bronze Australia 2012 10-20
Glen Carlou Vineyards Glen Carlou Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 10-20
Treasury Wine Estates Devil’s Lair The Hidden Cave Bronze Australia 2012 10-20
Mellasat Vineyards Mellasat Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 10-20
Molteno Brothers (Pty) Ltd Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 10-20
Glenelly Estate Grand Vin Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 10-20
Australian Vintage Limited McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2012 10-20
Vina Casa Tamaya Chardonnay Winemaker’s Gran Reserva Bronze Chile 2011 10-20
Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat Limited Edition Bronze South Africa 2011 10-20
Bodega Aleanna El Enemigo Chardonnay Bronze Argentina 2011 10-20
La Motte Wine Estate La Motte Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2011 10-20
Rosehall Run Vineyards JCR Rosehall Vineyard Chardonnay Bronze Canada 2011 10-20
Gonzalez Byass TH Chardonnay West Limari Bronze Chile 2010 10-20
Quinta de Maipo Quebrada Seca Bronze Chile 2010 10-20
Le Clos Jordanne (Constellation Brands) Village Reserve Chardonnay Bronze Canada 2009 10-20
Settlers Rise Wines Settlers Rise Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2008 10-20
Vina Leyda Leyda Single Vineyard Falaris Hill Bronze Chile 2011 10-20
Australian Vintage Limited McGuigan Personal Reserve Bronze Australia 2013 20-30
Jordan Winery (Coe Vintners) Jordan Chardonnay Bronze USA 2011 20-30
The Hess Collection Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay Bronze USA 2011 20-30
Josef Chromy Wines Josef Chromy Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2012 20-30
Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard Patricia Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2009 20-30
Australian Vintage Limited McGuigan Personal Reserve Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2007 20-30
Penfolds Wines BIN 311 Chardonnay Tumbarumba Bronze Australia 2012 30+
Maison Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Les Clous Bronze France 2011 30+
Mentzendorff Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard, Piccadilly Valley Bronze Australia 2010 30+
Penfolds Wines Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2010 30+
E&J Gallo Winery Sonoma Coast Chardonnay Bronze USA 2007 30+
Vina Siegel S.A. Crucero Reserva Chardonnay Bronze Chile 2013 0-10
Vina Luis Felipe Edwards Reserva Chardonnay Bronze Chile 2013 0-10
Alvi’s Drift Wines International AD Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 0-10
Distell Pty Ltd Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Bronze South Africa 2012 0-10
Camlica Wines Istranca Chardonnay Bronze Turkey 2011 0-10
Spier Wines Savanha Naledi Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2012 10-20
Fox Creek Wines Fox Creek Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2012 10-20
Bodegas Trapiche Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Bronze Argentina 2012 10-20
Enotria Xanadu Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2012 10-20
Cannonball Wine Company Chardonnay Bronze USA 2012 10-20
DGB Boschendal Reserve Collection Bronze South Africa 2011 10-20
E&J Gallo Winery Frei Brothers Reserve Russian River Valley Bronze USA 2011 10-20
Glen Carlou Vineyards Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Bronze South Africa 2011 10-20
Saxenburg Wine Estate Private Collection Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2011 10-20
Vina Leyda Leyda Chardonnay Lot 5 Bronze Chile 2011 10-20
South Coast Winery Wild Horse Peak Chardonnay Bronze USA 2011 10-20
Glen Carlou Vineyards Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Bronze South Africa 2011 20-30
Saxenburg Wine Estate Private Collection Chardonnay Bronze South Africa 2011 10-20
Patz & Hall Wine Co Sonoma Coast Chardonnay Bronze USA 2011 20-30
Voyager Estate Voyager Estate Chardonnay Bronze Australia 2010 20-30
Cakebread Cellars Reserve, Carneros Napa Valley Bronze USA 2010 30+
Accolade Wines Eileen Hardy, Tasmania Bronze Australia 2009 30+

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