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Home Winners > Winners 2017 > NEW WORLD: Chardonnay California

Winner Details

New World: Chardonnay, California

2017 Gold: 2 Silver: 3 Bronze: 1 Commended: 4
2016 Gold: 1 Silver: 1 Bronze: 2 Commended: 0

Big fruit, big oak, big prices… these wines are as defiantly American as a Hawaiian-shirted tourist looking for Lye-cester Square. As such, they’re very much Marmite wines – you either like the style or you don’t.

But a heartening number of our tasters enjoyed what they were trying here. As other parts of the New World become more restrained, this is one of the few places where you can get this bigger style of fruit-driven Chardonnay, and the Californians do it very well. Particularly Truchard, whose 2014 followed the 2013 on to the Gold List.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘This flight was polarising. I think these definitely have a place on a wine list, and when the oak is restrained, they can work particularly well with food. I do think Californian Chardonnay remains a hand sell though.’ Laura Rhys MS, team leader

‘California is an exciting, big region, with a lot of climates and microclimates. You find a variety of styles. Some go more savoury and salty, and some can be quite extravagant, while others are straightforward and good value for money.’ Damien Trinckquel, Galvin Brasserie de Luxe Edinburgh

‘It’s love or hate with this type of Chardonnay. Some were lean and clean, but the flight then moved to some heavily oaked wines. I’m becoming a huge fan of unoaked New World Chardonnay, and I’m hoping we’ll see more in the future.’ Olivier Gasselin, Hakkasan Group

‘We tend to benchmark these with Burgundy – that’s their inspiration. They are mastering their oak better than they used to, and bring some minerality, too. Maybe a category to watch for a few years’ time.’ Frédéric Billet, Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa

Award winners

Found 19 wines

New World: Chardonnay, South Africa

Kleine Zalze, Cleefs, Reserve Collection, Chardonnay 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

Gold medal winner Pub & Bar

A considered approach and a great price convinced our judges that this deserved the Gold. ‘Controlled not overblown Chardonnay, with grapefruit notes and slightly buttery on the finish,’ began Tim McLaughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice, while Charles Van Wyk of FJB Hotels found it a ‘well-made and balanced wine offering a nose of peach and apricot with lovely weighty mouthfeel coming from clever use of oak, flavours of almond, apricot and limey refreshing acidity’.

£6.59 Hatch Mansfield

Journey's End, Single Vineyard, Chardonnay 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Gold medal winner

A clear candidate for Gold, with a ‘creamy texture, smoky oak notes and stone fruits on the palate, and an elegant and balanced palate’, praised Bovey Castle’s Rustem Mingaleev, while team leader Martin Lam appreciated its ‘chalky, wet stone nose and a good citrus lift on the palate’. Portland Restaurant’s James Fryer described ‘super-opulent peach and apricot notes, with some almond on the finish’, while team leader Tom Forrest thought it a match for cod loin.

£12.11 Bibendum

Elgin Vintners, Chardonnay 2015, Elgin, South Africa

Gold medal winner

With its structure and freshness, judges found another Chardonnay Gold for South Africa. ‘Plenty of oak, but a cool, almost herby, fynbos style; good, young, but with lovely balance and high cheekbones,’ began team leader Simon Woods. ‘Powerful aromas of vanilla, almonds and ripe apricot,’ said Charles Van Wyk of FJB Hotels, noting ‘good concentration and a weighty mouthfeel, which finishes very refreshing with a lemony acidity’. This was an ideal partner for monkfish with pancetta, thought team leader Tom Forrest.

£8.81 Gordon & MacPhail

Journey's End, Destination, Chardonnay 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

‘Delicate citrus nose, and showing restraint and elegance on the palate, with a creamy finish,’ began consultant sommelier Rebecca Coates, while team leader Tom Forrest appreciated ‘sweet oak and sweet ripe pineapple and mango, leading to rounded oak on the palate, and more ripe pineapple, with a mineral finish’.

£17.68 Bibendum

Neil Ellis, Whitehall, Chardonnay 2015, Elgin, South Africa

Silver medal winner

‘A mineral, Chablis-like style with hints of buttery fruit, the palate quite restrained with fresh oak coming through on the aftertaste, which is long and shows great potential, too,’ said an impressed Tim McLaughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice.

£13.80 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Lismore, Chardonnay 2014, Western Cape, South Africa

Silver medal winner

Neil Tabraham of Paris House enjoyed its ‘clean, peach and melon nose with a fuller style, juicy and zesty palate, a well-made foodie Chardonnay with a long, bright and complex finish.’ Coworth Park Ascot’s Michael Fiducia, meanwhile, appreciated ‘baked apples and peaches, with a wonderful mouthfeel’.

£17.31 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Jordan, Barrel Fermented, Chardonnay 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

Consultant sommelier Rebecca Coates enjoyed this Chardonnay’s ‘creamy yoghurt character and oak on the nose, a balanced and flavoursome style with a round finish, a serious effort’, while Rustem Mingaleev of Bovey Castle described it as having ‘clean, white stone fruits, vanilla and smoke notes’.

£10.60 Alexander Wines, H2Vin

Fleur du Cap, Unfiltered, Chardonnay 2015, Western Cape, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

A ‘classic with full flavour’, said Tim McLaughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice, ‘pure style, clean and elegant with ripe fruit, balanced and refreshing. An engaging, buttery Chardonnay that’s great value and needs food.’

£9.63 Distell International

Dorrance, Cuvée Anaïs, Chardonnay 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

‘Reaching its peak soon, this has stone fruit ripeness on the nose and a creamy citrus palate, with some oaky tannins,’ said team leader Martin Lam, while Charles Carron Brown of The Forest Side Grasmere found ‘tropical fruit, melon, banana and honeysuckle, with a subtle amount of oak’.

£15.58 Top Selection Ltd

Baleia, Inge, Chardonnay 2014, Cape South Coast, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Benguela Cove, Chardonnay 2014, Walker Bay, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Kleine Zalze, Vineyard Selection, Chardonnay 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Riebeek Cellars, Kasteelberg, Chardonnay 2015, Swartland, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£7.00 Fuller's

Creation, Chardonnay 2015, Walker Bay, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£17.25 Bibendum

Journey's End, Haystack, Chardonnay 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£9.58 Bibendum

Kloovenburg, Chardonnay 2015, Swartland, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£9.47 Bibendum

Springfield Estate, Wild Yeast, Chardonnay 2014, Robertson, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£11.86 Bibendum

Stellenrust, Chardonnay 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£8.56 Bibendum

Fram, Chardonnay 2015, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£9.19 Enotria&Coe

 

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