On a few of the wine boards and blogs I frequent there's a tendency to make lists of
the best. I've done it too. Just very recently in fact with my best of the last 10 years
lists. But look at different people's lists and it's amazing how the same wines
appear over and over again. Take New Zealand Chardonnay, for example. Ask people to name
their top six and there's the a huge probability that Kumeu River Mate's,
Neudorf Moutere and Te Mata Elston will be on their
list. As Craig of kiwiwinefanclub
says, "only a fool wouldn't include those three".
But what about the up and
coming wines, the wines that have shown incredible consistency over the last few years
rather than the last twenty years in the case of the afore-mentioned three wines? What about the
wines that we can actually buy?
When Craig raised the topic on the Auswine forum looking for a 'top six', I suggested
he also consider Church Road Reserve Chardonnay. And now I am going to
re-emphasise its inclusion in a Top Six Chardonnay list.
I was in the envious position of tasting all of the gold medal wines awarded at the New
Zealand International Wine Show and when I tasted the line up of 22 Chardonnays in the
secret room, when I tasted these 22 Chardonnays at a very leisurely pace to write the gold medal descriptions, the
Road Reserve Chardonnay 2006 was in a class of its own.
It was a brilliant clear gold, as were many of the wines, but it had a profound and
fascinating smokiness that added an extra dimension of complexity to this already complex,
multi-layered wine. There's also a nuance of salty bacon to the aroma and a sweet /
savoury palate with grilled stonefruits, creamed nuts and a long, rich tantalising finish.
I had previously written about this wine in May this year . . . . "Honey
gold coloured and rich and savoury scented with a nutty creaminess and when quite chilled
the toastiness of the aroma and the toasty oak taste is enhanced. As the wine warms up,
the funky wild yeast nuances dominate the aromas and in the palate, fleshy grilled peach
and spice flavours emerge. A multi-layered chardonnay, one of the best that has come out
of 2006, label to watch."
When the Trophy results were announced at the NZ International awards dinner
last night, it seem that the Chardonnay judges agreed with me as they voted this wine as Champion
Chardonnay. But that's not all. When all the 'variety' trophies were
handed out there was just one left to announce - the Champion Wine of the Show.
This is judged at the end of the competition and the champion wines from their respective
classes are lined up on each judge's table for them to vote for their No. 1 and their No.
2 choices. The competition convenor tallies the votes and the closely guarded secret
that only he and a coupleof other people knew, was revealed last night. John Manley of Nissan NZ presented the trophy and said, "The Champion Wine of the Show is
..... Church Road Reserve Chardonnay 2006".
The achievements bestowed on the wine this weekend follow on from the Champion
Chardonnay award at the Royal Easter Wine Show in early
Winemaker Chris Scott says he really does nothing to the wine - they have good growers
who supply the best fruit from low cropped vines. The hand harvested and hand sorted
fruit is pressed into the French oak barrels (58% new) for wild ferment and wild
malolactic fermentation. It then remains on its yeast lees for 14 months before racking
and blending in readiness for bottling. The finished wine has 14% alcohol and the bottle is closed with a screwcap.
At $33.95 a bottle, it really is one of the country's most outstanding Chardonnays and
continues the form that this label has shown since Chris took over - the third
vintage in a row to take out a 'Champion Chardonnay' trophy. The 2006 is my
favourite and it has evolved beautifully in the bottle over the last few months, with
seemingly more complexity and depth than ever before.
There will be a few wine show bashers out there but they should try this wine and
see what they think. Pernod Ricard - the owner of Church Road, is not afraid to put
its best wines - that they have the quantities of - on the table to be judged against all
© Sue Courtney
28 Sep 2008