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Friday 19 August 2022

New York Chardonnay Show-Down

New York State Chardonnays vs the rest of the world


- Mr Incredible, The Incredibles (2004)

Crafted in New York, but inspired from everywhere, New York is a unique community of passionate producers who approach winemaking with a multitude of personalities and backgrounds—they’re not alike, and they like it that way.

Wine has been made in New York since the 17th century and its unique history of hybrid cultivars paired with an increasing amount of planted Vitis vinifera has positioned the region as one of the most diverse and resilient.

In New York wines you’ll find subtlety, depth and nuance; it’s no surprise that they’ve found a place on the global stage, alongside other great wine regions of the world.

These tasting took a look at New York’s star varieties side by side with other great wine regions of the world, exploring the common threads as well as the varied approaches to viticulture and winemaking.

New York wines

Chardonnay has a relatively long history in New York state, being one of the first grape varieties planted there and making a name for itself from the 1970s onwards, but today remains somewhat in the shadow of Riesling and Cabernet Franc.

Fox Run Vineyards, Doyle Family Chardonnay 2020 Finger Lakes, NY ($14, seeking distribution in the UK)

Founded in 1990, an hour's flight from the ocean, it has a continental climate; on the same latitude as Rioja and Tuscany, it suffers from spring frosts however bud-break is late. 8% Traminette in the blend for some "fruit salad" character; no oak or lees aging, made from purchased fruit that enjoys afternoon suns.

Easy-drinking and popular wine that does well in the restaurant trade.

citrus and orchard fruits; white stone fruits, green apple and pears; lean, sinewy, fresh and harmonious.

Well-made and thoroughly enjoyable.

Wolffer Estate, Perle Chardonnay 2019 Long Island NY ($32, Seeking distribution in the UK)

Based in The Hamptons, Long Island with a moderate maritime climate; milder winters, no spring frosts and cooler summers. On the same latitude as Madrid and Naples, giving plenty of sunshine for ripening and a long hang time for minerality and elegant fruit.

Small-cluster vines for even ripening, barrel fermented, canopy management and air flow reduce diseases and give long hang time. Hand picked and pressed immediately with 48 hours' skin contact, fermented in 90% new French oak with around 8 months on the lees and almost no battonage. 

bruised apple, white stone fruits and florality; orchard fruits, creamy-leesy roasted brazil nuts and oatmeal, saline minerality and orange peel; rich, complex and savoury, long and elegant.

Very Good.

Nathan Kendall, Chardonnay 2020 Finger Lakes, NY ($33, Master of Malt, Whisky Exchange, 9 Elms Wines)

West-side grapes with morning sun, 50yo vines; hand picked and foot-stomped for phenolic extraction, spontaneous fermentation in old barrels with 11m aging on lees and no stirring, partial malo

bruised orchard fruits, toastiness and florality; fresh with zippy lime, citrussy acidity and spice; saline-mineral with good texture, delicate finesse and elegance.

Very Good.


Errazuriz Wines, Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay 2019 Chile (£17.50, Ocado, Noel Young Wines, Hop Cellar)

Modern style, full-bodied with reductive winemaking, 45% malo, 100% old oak.

aromatic minty herbs, zippy lime and struck match; refreshing lime marmalade, gooseberries and greengage with minty vanilla, honeysuckle citrus, orchard fruits and nutty, leesy complexity.

Very Good.

New Zealand

Villa Maria Wines Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2019 (£15.99, nzhouseofwine)

Awatere Valley fruit, 100% barrel fermented, 50% wild ferment, full malo with 11 months on the lees.

struck match, fresh orchard fruits and bruised crab apple skins; fresh, linear and precise with green apple, lime zest, white stone fruits and broad savouriness

Very Good.

France, Chablis

Jean Durup, Chablis 2021 (€16, not currently available in the UK)

From the difficult 2021 vintage, no oak influence, cool climate, kimmeridgian soils.

citrus, lemongrass and rubbed sage; fresh and saline with honeydew melon, white stone fruits, lime zest and honeysuckle; broad and savoury with leesy oatmeal.

Very Good.


Image credits: Susana Kawai

Further reviews:

Susana Kawai: Food with Susi on Instagram: "Chardonnay Show Down - New York State of Wine Have you tried a Chardonnay from New York State? In a glance: The climate is continental…"

The Buyer: The_Buyer on Twitter: "Part 2 @TheBuyer11 importers debate with @NYWineGrapeFdn producers looks at the wine styles that buyers think have the most potential to do well in the UK and why the region has much to offer with cool climate, fresh, pure fruit forward, acid driven wines https://t.co/6gyKZZE5mF https://t.co/hbBn4u3RFJ" / Twitter

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