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Bill Hardy ICC guest judge

International Chardonnay Challenge judge Bill Hardy considers Chardonnay the greatest white winegrape in the world.

The brand ambassador for Hardy's Wines is the fifth of six generations to be part of the famous wine company, and one of the international judges at this year's competition, which is due to start in Gisborne on 27 May.

“Chardonnay does well virtually everywhere it is grown – New World and Old World, cool climate or warm,” he says. “It is no coincidence that in the great French wine regions of Champagne and Burgundy, they only permit one white grape to carry their region's names and reputations – and that grape is Chardonnay.”

Hardy says the variety is incredibly flexible, producing superb still wines ranging from aromatic unwooded styles, through to mineral, citrus, leaner wooded styles and big, soft, full-bodied wooded styles, as well as being the greatest white grape for sparkling wine.

“Chardonnay has played a huge role in expanding the wine drinking population as it is a most suitable variety to introduce people to wine,” he says. “It's very sturdy and resilient variety during the winemaking process, and gives the winemaker a whole new armoury in the quest for complexity.”

Hardy initially opted for a career on the land and graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science but his mates helped him “see the error of his ways” and he turned to wine.

He qualified as an Oenologue de France (French winemaker) at the Universite de Bordeaux and has completed 12 vintages in South Australia, six in Western Australia and eight in France. As brand ambassador for Hardy's, he travels the globe promoting the brand, and a label he has worked with for more than 37 years.

More than 520 entries have been received for the annual event, including wines from Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United States and, of course, New Zealand.

Judging is conducted from 27–28 May. On 29 May, a gala awards dinner will be held, where Kiwi wine guru Bob Campbell will entertain guests. There are also a number of events running in conjunction with the challenge, including lunches, tastings, workshops and presentations.

For more information visit www.internationalchardonnaychallenge.com

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WID 2017