Top Prize for Nelson Winery

Taking out the coveted ‘Best in Show’ prize at the 2021 Decanter World Wine Awards, Nelson’s Tohu Wines has become the toast of the Kiwi wine industry.

Over the course of two weeks of rigorous wine tasting in London in June, Tohu’s Whenua Matua Chardonnay stood out from amongst the 18,000 wines judged, to win one of the 50 Best in Show accolades.

This was a major achievement for the world’s first Māori-owned winery as it was the only New Zealand winery to receive a Best in Show award. French wines dominated the category with 15 awards, along with nine from Spain and seven from Italy.

While New Zealand has always been more well-known for its Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand Chardonnay has been quietly building its success in recent years, according to Decanter organisers. At the 2021 awards, Chardonnays from less-expected places like Canada and Germany also received Best in Show awards.

The Whenua Matua Chardonnay 2018 is a single-vineyard wine grown in the rich clay soils of the Upper Moutere region. The only other time a Nelson winery has won best in show for chardonnay was in 1992 when Neudorf Winery won for its 1991 Chardonnay, also grown in similar Moutere-clay soil.

Tohu Wines was established in 1998 and is owned by the Kono food and beverage company, these days around 200,000 cases of wine are produced at its winery in the Awatere Valley.

“The chardonnay is a special release for us and follows on from our 23-year celebration last year. Each wine in the Whenua series is an expression of the uniqueness of our tūranagawaewae, our standing place, and our connection to the land,” expressed Kono chief executive Rachel Taulelei.

“To be acknowledged and singled out from thousands of wines in such a prestigious wine competition is confirmation that care for the land and its bounty is tōtika, a beautiful balance.”