Chardonnay – September 2014

6th September 2014

Whilst the majority of the wines in this tasting were recent releases, there were a couple of iconic wines slipped in that proved to be a real highlight.

Whilst I have reviewed Vasse Felix’s 2012 Heytesbury previously, it was not in a blind tasting. Here, the wine proved to be the star in a very fine lineup.

At the other end of the price spectrum, the return of Houghton’s Crofters label is heralded by a fantastic value Chardonnay. Not to be outdone, the Regional Series Chardonnay by Capel Vale offers outstanding current drinking at a modest price.


Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – Heytesbury – 2012 (18.5 – 19). Spectacular nose! Curry leaf, minerals, power, depth and complexity. The palate is flooded with minerals and more of that curry leaf character, but there is superb depth to the fruit with zesty acidity adding life. The texturing oak adds greatly to the appeal. This builds intensity with air and lingers for a very long time. Complete and silky, this is unbelievably good.

Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2011 (18.5 – 19). Very taut and restrained on the nose. There is superb fruit that has enough depth now to make for lovely drinking, but really needs 5+ years to reach, what will be, a very high peak. Complex, worked and very long, the creamy oak is merely a hint in the background. Seamless and spectacular!

Cullen – Chardonnay – Kevin John – 2011 (18.5). Closed, tight and restrained. The grapefruit and mandarin-like citrus characters give way to powerful mineral and flint like notes with a touch of sulphur over high quality oak. This is a powerful wine that builds tremendous depth in the mouth. The length is a feature. Now or in 5 years.

Millbrook – Chardonnay – LR – 2013 (18 – 18.5). This wines is a textural feast. Whilst there is superb fruit on show, it was the silky, seductive mouth-feel that really made a statement. This is a slightly richer style than some here, but the creamy lees/oak characters seamlessly integrate with the fruit to make for an outstanding drink. Took a day or two to hit its peak, suggesting that a short time in the cellar will only help. (RRP $45).

Thompson Estate – Chardonnay – 2012 (18). A lithe, elegant wine that puts finesse and balance ahead of overt power. Hints of minerals and savoury notes, with supple, medium toast oak to close. A very smart wine that took a day to hit its straps. (RRP $40).

Capel Vale – Chardonnay – Regional Series – 2012 (17.5 – 18). Minerals and steely notes over peach/nectarine fruit characters and crunchy acidity. Creamy lemon curd notes add depth to the palate. The quality fruit has been deftly handled in the winery with sympathetic oak use. A youthful wine that is sure to blossom in the bottle. From Margaret River. (RRP $25).

Houghton – Chardonnay – Crofters – 2013 (17.5 – 18). This is a pretty wine, with almost floral fruit characters over nectarine and peach. The palate is balanced and nicely textured. The ripe fruit is the main feature, with the supple oak and barrel ferment characters just adding depth on the finish. Will fill out with a year or two in bottle. A Pemberton/Margaret River blend. (RRP $19).