New Zealand’s tenth hosting of the International Chardonnay Competition (ICC) 2010 was a huge success for Aussie brands.

Several countries celebrate with chardonnay competitions-Chardonnay du Monde (887 entries in 2010), as well as the major UK wine competitions having chardonnay trophies from hundreds of entries. ;

The ICC started with 100 entries but now has over 500, essentially from Australia and New Zealand though without restriction, and we occasionally see some Californians and South Amercians.

As well entries from France, Italy and South Africa (one bronze in 2010) appear.

The chardonnay grape is thoroughly deserving of this attention as a widely planted international variety able to adapt to vast climate ranges with ease. Unlike riesling and pinot gris.

In many countries chardonnay styles are undergoing huge palate retrofitting, and part of this charge is strongly led by the Australians.

This needs to happen to stay relevant at the top echelon of producers. However our friends in Chablis and Burgundy are closer to the core in this regard but these regions need to look closer at the closures used. Too many dud chardonnays are coming out of France from use of cork.

For the 2010 results at Gisbourne the judging panels (Kiwi dominant) would appear to be across this chardonnay style evolution awarding 14 gold medals to Aussie chardonnays. The remaining four went to New Zealand brands.

Whereas where the Aussies seek additional acidity from relatively warmer regions, the Kiwis tend to suffer for exuberant levels of acidity which cloud the tasting decisions. Kiwi chardonnay rides in a sea of malolactic flavour while most Aussies rarely do the conversion.

clear demonstration of Margaret River as top region of the show came with the five golds -Devil’s Lair 2008 and 2009-2, Killerby 2009, Laurence 2008, Peccavi 2009 and Xanadu. The latter Reserve 2009 also took best wine of this ICC: congratulations WA.

No Margaret River fluke of course-Cullen Kevin John 2007 took best Aussie chardonnay at last week’s Decanter World Wine Awards shadowing Voyager 2007.

The Queenslander Ridgemill Estate Pedigree 2009 took a silver. This show is a happy hunting ground for Ridgemill; the same small vineyard took bronze last year with their 2008 and gold in 2006 with their 2005.

Of the ICC results, the bronze medal to Fosters Wine Estates Heemskerk 2008 from Tasmania was noted after taking the chardonnay trophy at last year’s Royal Queensland Show. The style is ultra-modern with a core of streamlined acidity rivalling riesling, and is easily missed by judges due to its austerity.

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