Wanaka judges mark Chardonnay’s comeback at wine awards

Pictured: Jen Parr of Valli Vineyards judging sips during last year’s New World Wine Awards competition.

Two Wanaka-based women made their return to once again sip, swirl and judge at the 2019 New World Wine Awards competition in Wellington. From July 31 through August 2, Vanessa Robson of Maude Wines and Jen Parr of Valli Vineyards joined 15 other judges in the consumer-focused competition that offers wineries a chance to get their wine in New World stores nationwide. 

Emerging as a front runner in this year’s competition was Chardonnay, which outpaced Sauvignon Blanc and equalled the Pinot Noir entries for the first time in the awards’ 17-year history.

Jim Harré, chair of judges, said, “This year’s numbers signal a big shift following a particularly successful year for Chardonnay in the 2018 awards. Winemakers have been developing modern-style Chardonnay over recent years and we are now seeing the results. Entry numbers are a sign of winemakers’ confidence in the quality of their Chardonnay, and of changing consumer tastes as more people embrace new versions of this old favourite.”

Robson and Parr tasted around 120 wines each day over three days, knowing only the varietal, country, origin and vintage of each wine. The panel of judges then made collective scoring decisions according to the internationally recognised 100-point system to award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals based on wine colour, taste and smell.

"...This year I was lucky to judge both the International class and New Zealand class from several vintages,” Parr told the Wanaka Sun. “The NZ Chardonnays stood out to me for their concentration, freshness and diversity in style. The great range in style comes from the fact that NZ is capable of producing gold medal Chardonnay in every growing area and winemakers are embracing the individuality of each climate and region. Chardonnay is probably the only variety that is grown in every region and has achieved this five-star standard."

Nearly 90 percent of the Chardonnay wines and 70 percent of the total 1415 wines from 177 wineries entered in the 2019 awards were from NZ. 

Entries to the awards must retail for $25 or less and have at least 4000 bottles available to sell through New World stores.

The results from this year’s competition will be announced later this year and the Top 50 Gold-medal wines will be available in New World stores nationwide.


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