Add to repertoire: under-$20 Chardonnay from New Zealand. Cost of doing business what it is in the USA, our country has a tough time competing in the under-$20 category. Saying this without any empirical evidence whatsoever, but low-cost American Chardonnay is probably the reason why so many people say they don’t like Chardonnay. And the free market being what it is, New Zealand is kicking our ASS when it comes to extremely likeable and delicious white wines for under 20 bucks—there is empirical evidence for this: just look at the sales trend as of late for New Zealand white wines.
The 2014 Kumeu Village Chardonnay from KUMEU RIVER WINES is a superb example of why NZ whites are so irresistible. The nose: kiwi, jackfruit and that aspect of wet stones. On the palate: striking minerality not commonly found in Chardonnay—extremely refreshing for warm weather consumption. This is scintillating Chardonnay that emphasizes the acidity of tropical fruit (prominent notes of young mango) and purity and brightness. It’s a very zesty affair, and you could venture all the backroads of Napa and Sonoma and not find a similar Chardonnay to this one. For Chardonnay lovers like myself, the Kumeu Village is a revelation. Putting this wine under extreme stress tests, it paired marvelously well with chips & guac and a chorizo bowl from Chipotle as well as linguine and clams from a local Italian joint. In summary, Chardonnay from an unusual place like Kumeu, Auckland, that costs under $20 and pairs well with Mexican and Italian food, among other things—and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. –J.M.