Reviewed 27th August 2013
I continue to marvel at the current quality of Australian chardonnays. Never before have the wines been so elegant, refined and desirable. Ten years ago, there were a mere handful of wines that I would seek to drink, preferring to look to Burgundy for examples of fine chardonnay.
In this current tasting, of the 20 wines reviewed, three were awarded gold medals and a further three firmly entrenched in silver medal position. Given the price of good white burgundy, these wines are not only excellent quality, they can represent brilliant value!
Cullen – Chardonnay – Kevin John – 2011 (18/18.5+). Complex, yet restrained, with subtle grapefruit, melon and mineral notes on the nose. Lemon and lime juice characters drive the palate initially, though the very fine winemaking inputs leave a very fine impression on the finish. This is really silky and fine. Develops pineapple and stonefruit to close. Really came together the next day, with powerful, rich fruit flooding the palate. A great wine!
Cape Mentelle – Chardonnay – 2011 (18.5). Very pretty, almost delicate fruit here – this is lean and tight in the “modern” style. Serious fruit quality that has been picked a little earlier to retain acidity and poise. The palate is where the quality comes to life. This is seamless and very fine, though it needs 5 years to allow the fruit to build depth. A superb wine with hints of pineapple, lemon and ripe stonefruit. There is tremendous length and excellent balance, with the expensive (very fine) oak providing a sympathetic frame on which the fruit is built. My love affair with Cape Mentelle wines has been well documented in these pages over the last few years and the 2011 chardonnay only reinforces the attraction.
Heydon Estate – Chardonnay – The Willow – 2009 (18.5). Opens with minerals, curry leaf, struck match and very high quality (slightly charred) oak. This is a powerful wine in the Burgundian style. Dense, rich and mouth-coating, with bitter almond astringency to close. The palate is very fine framed, super tight, long and elegant, reflecting quality fruit, oak and winemaking. The next day, the palate came in to its own, becoming expansive and near seamless. (Drink now to 4 years).
Penfolds – Chardonnay – Bin 311 – 2012 (18). More overt power than with the Kevin John, but still with wonderful balance and poise. This is more nutty, with almond meal and cashew nut aromas. The palate is taut, yet there is wonderful depth to the fruit. In reality, this is quite closed, so a few years in the cellar will only help. Opens to show pristine fruit, lime-like acidity and near seamless palate transition. The quality oak is well integrated and adds to the mouth-feel.
Hutton – Chardonnay – Triptych – 2011 (17.5 – 18). Compelling nose here that is more obvious than some of the others in the tasting. Viscous and oaked but this is in balance with the fruit. The finish is long and fine, with excellent acidity carrying the finish. Lime juice acidity and pineapple to close, with nutty fruit developing in the glass.
Lamont’s – Chardonnay – White Monster – 2012 (17.4). More obvious fruit on the nose and the palate. Opens with pineapple fruit characters and decent acidity. The oak has been well handled adding depth to the palate. This is a style that is suited to early drinking and is one of the most accessible wines of the tasting. Aptly named, as this is a big, rich wine that has plenty of (very fine) oak characters adding depth to the fruit. An overt style that will please many!
Willow Bridge – Chardonnay – Dragonfly – 2013 (17). Lovely fragrance here, with peach, melon and hints of nuttiness. There is a seam of citrus running the length of the palate. A bright, fresh and lively wine that has virtually no oak characters and would make a refreshing alternative to a young riesling or SB.
Thierry et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – Bourgogne – 2011 (16.9). Nutty, spicy notes with peach-like aromas coming through on the nose. The palate is not overly complex, but possessing good length and persistence. A neutral, European style of wine that should work a treat with food. Smells like burgundy, tastes like burgundy… must be burgundy! Should also be good value.