Chief winemaker at Isabel Estate Jeremy McKenzie is thrilled…not just for his Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 winning champion wine of show at the latest Air New Zealand Wine Awards, but for his small and dedicated team who were instrumental in its success. “This is testament to the quality of fruit that we are able to grow from a single vineyard site, and demonstrates our philosophy of respecting the soil where the grapes grow and allowing the unique characters of each vineyard and variety to be expressed in the final wine,” he says.
The first Marlborough Chardonnay to win a champion wine of show, Isabel Estate is a pioneering winery first planted in 1980. Its wine is made from only the best fruit 100% grown and bottled within the boundaries of the estate, respecting the vineyard’s unique microclimate where the grapes grow to express the distinctive characters of each block and variety in the final wine. “We have recognised for some time now how strong a site Isabel Estate is for Chardonnay and over the past three years we have been quietly perfecting it,” McKenzie says. “The Isabel Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 exhibits the power and vibrancy that are the hallmarks of world-class Chardonnay, and is a wine of outstanding quality and character. Isabel Estate has now been well and truly positioned at the top of Marlborough’s wineries.” McKenzie says his “small and dedicated team” are humble, hands-on crew with “a lot of fight.” Isabel Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 was one of 1300 wines entered in the competition and chair of judges Warren Gibson says it won by a big margin because it was world-class and well-made. “The wine got through to the trophy judging stage, and it was a clear winner by some distance.
It’s packed with flavour but still maintains a remarkable lightness on its feet.” The Air New Zealand Wine Awards are New Zealand’s most respected, recognising excellence in winemaking. The competition is owned and organised by New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country’s 1600 grape growers and winemakers. In October 2017, a panel of 26 top wine experts, including judges from the USA, UK and Australia, sniffed, swirled and tasted their way through more than 1300 wines.