Greatness in the making...
It’s just a Chardonnay, right? When it comes to Marlborough everyone talks about the old SauvyB (or may be a Pinot here and there). But really isn’t it just the mums who drink Chardonnay? And even if the world got super excited about this varietal, no one would first think ‘Marlborough,’ when it comes to one one of most versatile and underrated wines there is.
With the recent announcement that Misty Cove’s 2020 Landmark Series Chardonnay has just taken a coveted place in the New World Top 50 with a Gold Medal, perhaps we need to start thinking twice about Marlborough’s winemaking heritage. More than 140 wineries from New Zealand and overseas entered over 1,100 wines into the 19th annual New World Wine Awards.

Judging was completed over 3 days in the heart of New Zealand’s wine country – Blenheim, Marlborough. So, you can probably guess that our humble winemakers – Emmanuel Bolliger and Nicky Parish - were quite chuffed to the good news.We got down to the business of asking them what makes their approach to Chardonnay so unique. Their thoughts on why our Landmark Series Chardonnay may have resonated with the judging panel. And why, ultimately, this will appeal to wine fans everywhere.

Nicky Parish (left) and Emmanuel 'Manu' Bolliger - the Misty Cove Winemakers.


What’s so good about Chardonnay?

“Well, it's delicious. It's just yum.” Says winemaker Nicky Parish, a self-professed Chardonnay fan.

“Well, to some it's yum.” Emmanuel chuckles, who admits that he loves making Chardonnay, but it’s not his favourite to drink. “I think the interesting thing about Chardonnay, is it's one of the grapes that's grown all over the world and can be grown in so many different climates and areas. And, as well, it's one of the grapes where the winemaker has such an influence on the actual wine.”

“Yeah, you can do so much with it.” Says Nicky. “You can make it oaky, you can make it buttery, you can make it lean, you can make it green, you can make it crisp, you can make it soft. So many different styles.”

“Yes. It's come a long way since the '80s, when everyone was anything but big oaky Chardonnay.”

Tell us about the 2020 Landmark Series Chardonnay…
“So initially, our brief was to produce a chardonnay which was highly oaked, which was my big bug bear.” Says Emmanuel. “Over time, we've been slowly pulling back on the oak. Part of the malolactic fermentation also gives quite a big flabby wine, so we've pulled back on that. We've tried to make a far more restrained style.”

This wine has so much ageing potential as well." Says Nicky. "This wine will evolve over the next three or four years and become even more refined and sophisticated."
"Another thing you will notice on this wine, that it's still got a nice green tinge, which is showing the vibrant youth, the acidity." Says Emmanuel. "That's part of the problem with Chardonnay. It can have quite a low acidity, and then get quite fat and flabby. The oak enhances that, too, so we've gone for a lighter style oak, less new oak. Also, the charring of the oak, we've cut back on."
"It's mostly a French oak, medium toast. We still like to use a broad range of Cooper's (wine barrels). But also, we've worked really hard on the mouth feel. To get away from that super buttery character, and give it this wine more texture."

Our Fareham Lane vineyard - the birthplace of our 2020 Landmark Series Chardonnay.

What makes a good Chardonnay?

"A good Chardonnay is defined in the vineyard." Nicky says. "It was down to a picking decision and the timing of the picking, and how we picked it. So that is probably one of the fundamental keys."

"You can do whatever in the winery to manipulate, to make a bit of wine, but fundamentally, it comes down to the cleanness of the fruit, the ripeness. We had beautifully evenly ripened fruit. It was all hand packed in the cool of the morning, and whole bunch pressed. That's just going to set you up for a winner."

So what are your thoughts on winning the big award - the Gold Medal and being placed in the New World Top 50?

"It's fantastic," says Emmanuel. "It's a reflection on how good our vineyard is, and how good the fruit was, and the fact we didn't f**k it up."

Ahem, well... I guess when you have great ingredients mixed with some fine winemaking talents, the best you can do is just let the wine stand up on its own.

"Exactly," says Nicky laughing. "Sometimes it's just about working with the beautiful resources that nature has provided. And this is a wine we are so proud of. As I said, Chardonnay has come a long long way since the 80s."

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