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Spy Valley Chardonnay Named Champion White Wine

Media release 23 September 2013

Spy Valley Chardonnay Named Champion White Wine

Marlborough’s Spy Valley Wines is delighted to announce that their 2012 Chardonnay has been named Champion White Wine at the 2013 New World Wine Awards.

Now in its 11th year, the New World Wine Awards utilise the internationally recognised ‘20 point scoring system’, with wines blind tasted and evaluated by an independent panel of 13 judges, many from overseas. Winners of each category are then re-judged to find the Champion Red, Champion White and Champion Bubbles, with the sole criteria being that all wines must retail for under $25.

“It is fantastic to see our Chardonnay once again in the spotlight,” said Blair Gibbs, General Manager of Spy Valley, which is widely regarded as one of Marlborough’s most successful family-owned wineries. “These awards get bigger every year, and the fact that we won out of a record number of entries, makes the victory even sweeter.”

In total, 1,099 wines from 157 different wineries were entered in this year’s awards. New World’s panel of expert wine judges have described Spy Valley’s Chardonnay as having “ripe concentrated stone fruit balanced by savoury oak. A lovely textural and elegant palate with a long clean finish, ideal with grilled salmon.”

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2012 is ready to drink now, but will also improve with age should it be cellared. Gibbs describes it as “very fresh and vibrant; a tightly structured wine with lovely acidity”, while noting that for those with patience, the 2001 and 2002 vintages are still looking good.

The grapes were estate-grown at two sites – the sweeping Johnson Estate Vineyard in the lower Waihopai Valley, and the densely planted Outpost Vineyard, on a steep, north-facing hill slope in the Omaka Valley. Under the guidance of Viticulturist Adam McCone, the fruit was all hand-harvested in ripe condition with high natural sugar levels in the berries (23.2 to 24.3 brix).

Winemaker Kathy-Lee Sowman said that the addition of the grapes grown at the Outpost Vineyard has helped the wine, “Adding a touch of old world complexity to the wine.”

Back at the Winery, Sowman and Paul Bourgeois – Spy Valley’s Chief Winemaker since 2007 –fermented and matured the Chardonnay for a year in French oak casks, using a good proportion of native yeasts, adding to the complexity of the wine as they created a long slow ferment followed by portions going through malolactic fermentation, which develops texture. “As we aim for a leaner style, this process helps soften the citrus and mineral characteristics and creates an elegant finish to the wine”, according to Sowman.

Bourgeois and Sowman describe the bouquet as possessing ‘a pleasant mélange of citrus and stone fruit supported with subtle oak barrel derived notes.’ The palate is refined and showing the elegance of a cooler growing season, citrus fruit is foremost with a seamless texture and refreshing finish.

Spy Valley has built a reputation in the past for its aromatics and now the Chardonnay is consistently doing well. This accolade comes on the back of the success of the 2011 vintage receiving Michael Coopers Best Buy white wine.

“One of Spy Valley’s core values is to consistently over deliver with award winning varietally true wines. Winning the Champion Trophy for the 2012 Chardonnay just reinforces that we are achieving this goal across the portfolio. We couldn’t be happier”, said Blair Gibbs.


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