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Pour Yourself a Glass of... New Zealand Chardonnay!

  • by Mikela Dennison

Thursday May 26th is International Chardonnay Day - and we couldn't be more excited to talk about one of our team's favourite wine styles!

So let's dive right in, and learn all about this popular, and oh-so-delicious wine.

Why do people love Chardonnay so much? 

There are so many reasons Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines in the world. It's a versatile wine that is very food friendly, and the fact that it can be made in a range of styles, gives it broad appeal to the full spectrum of wine palates. 

Chardonnay can be oaked or unoaked. It can be aged for many years, or enjoyed young and fresh. Flavours can range from buttery, rich and smooth, to stone-fruit flavours with refreshing and tight acidity.

Toasty vanilla and cashew flavours might appear, and the best examples can even feature notes of creme brûlée and lemon meringue. 

Depending on a wine's climate, terroir, and the wine-making used by the winemaker, Chardonnay can express itself in so many unique ways. '

What makes Marlborough such a unique growing environment for Chardonnay? 

New Zealand Chardonnay, and Marlborough Chardonnay in particular, is really making a name for itself.

Once only known as the home of some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world, Marlborough has been flexing its wine muscles into other varietals over the last few years.

In terms of its 'price to value' ratio, Marlborough Chardonnay punches above its weight, with some wine writers and commentators saying that it's on par with fine white Burgundy wines but at a fraction of the cost. 

Our chief winemaker Sam Bennett offered comments for a Drinks Biz article a few years ago, talking about the growing reputation of New Zealand Chardonnay: 

New Zealand Chardonnay is going from strength to strength. There are excellent examples coming out of all the major wine regions of the country that can confidently stand up to the best examples in the world,” he says.

Click here to explore that article and some interesting commentary. 

Being a cool climate Chardonnay, from the New World, Marlborough Chardonnay boasts more stone fruit flavours with fresh acidity and a zesty, lingering finish. 

There is around 1000ha of Chardonnay planted in Marlborough and just over 3000ha in New Zealand all up, making up 6% of NZ’s total production, but just 2% is exported overseas. 

How is oak used in making Chardonnay? 

The use of oak in Chardonnay winemaking is fairly common, due to the fact that Chardonnay itself is a relatively neutral grape varietal. The means it takes on the characters, flavours, textures of the vessel its made in. 

All of our Chardonnay wines are aged in French oak barrels. This time in barrel gives the wine a smoky, toasty, vanilla or hazelnut flavour, which is very attractive when done well. We use a mix of new and seasoned oak (we aim for about 30% new oak) to give the right blend of flavour. 

Our Pa Road range which is our everyday range features a combination of oak and stainless steel to give it an approachable, easy drinking style. 

Malo-lactic fermentation in Chardonnay

And it's not just the use of oak that gives Chardonnay texture and flavour! We also like the use of malo-lactic fermentation (the process where the malic acid converts to lactic acid). 

Lactic acid is what lends Chardonnay its hallmark creamy, buttery characteristics, that make chardonnay so decadent.

We retain a nice pure line of fresh zesty acidity to keep the richness from malo and oak in perfect harmony and balance. 

Food matches for Chardonnay 

When it comes to food pairing ideas with Chardonnay, you're spoilt for choice. 

We love pairing our Chardonnay with crayfish, served with a light butter garlic herb sauce, a squeeze of lemon, and a fresh side salad.

Scallops wrapped in bacon go perfectly as well, with the sweet, delicate flavour of the scallop being perfectly complemented by the nuanced, layered Chardonnay. 

Other popular food matches for Chardonnay include chicken and pork dishes, as well as creamy pasta dishes, and truffle or mushroom meals.  

Explore our Chardonnay wines

Get in touch via our chat function if you have any questions about these award-winning wines - we'd love to hear from you. For any trade inquiries, please contact us directly via mikela@tepawines.com. 

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