“Chardonnay is back!” is the catch cry. Well, in my view, she has never left. However, she has had some time to reflect as her more flamboyant peers, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc, have shared the limelight.

She has used the time wisely, consistently proving she is the only varietal that can excel in each of New Zealand’s wine regions. “Chardonnay is the wine style that most accurately expresses our NZ’ness across all of our regions,” says Simon Nunns, who has three decades of experience working with the grape. Since the 1980s, chardonnay has developed into our most complex, harmonious and international white wine. The best examples come from winemakers with the skills to push and respect boundaries whilst also being able to coax the very best in challenging vintages. Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas believes, “Great chardonnay rests in the hands of those who understand the importance of vineyard and soil. A winemaker’s job is to capture that specific terroir with subtle layers of flavours, texture and longevity.”


For this New Zealand chardonnay tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by Simon Nunns, longstanding winemaker at Coopers Creek, and Cameron Douglas, New Zealand’s first and only Master Sommelier and Board Member of Master Sommeliers America.