Reviewed: December 22nd 2014
When it comes to white wines, Riesling is the undisputed value king. These are high quality wines that are very age-worthy, especially under screw caps. That said, for me at least, Chardonnay has the potential to be the greatest of all white wines.
The challenge is that there are many more variables involved, so winemaking takes on much greater significance. The use of oak, barrel fermentation, lees stirring and cold fermentation for example can all have a significant impact on the final product.
These variations result in a wide variety of styles being available. From the taut and restrained to the rich and creamy, as well as all variations in-between.
In this tasting, of the wines reviewed, the Drumborg from Seppelt sits at the leaner end of the spectrum. A superb wine, but one that needs a few years to start uncoiling. The Eileen Hardy and the Grace Farm happily occupy the middle ground, balancing fine, elegant fruit with enough richness to make them a great drink today.
At $30, the Grace Farm in particular stands out as being excellent value.
Hardys – Chardonnay – Eileen Hardy – 2013 (18.5). Complex, powerful nose with peach, melon and even a hint of exotic tropical fruits. The palate is seamless and, though the ripe fruit makes a presence, it shows a remarkable degree of restraint. A very fine wine that is remarkably approachable now. (RRP $95).
Seppelt – Chardonnay – Drumborg Vineyard – 2013 (18 – 18.5+). Closed and tight this wine only hints at potential on the nose. The palate opens with grapefruit characters that lead onto tingling acidity. The finish however is quite remarkable, being long and fine, and building real presence on the palate. A smart wine that needs a year or two in the cellar to start opening up, but will last for years to come. (RRP $40).
Cloudburst – Chardonnay – 2013 (18.3). Powerful, but a little awkward right now. Opens with grapefruit, melon and peach notes. The high quality fruit and oak have been well matched, with the acid and mineral characters on the finish providing drive. Needs a few years to settle, but will be a star (and will probably garner even higher scores). Not cheap. (RRP $280).
Grace Farm – Chardonnay – 2013 (18). This wine has both a lovely nose and palate, showing nectarine, white peach and grapefruit characters. Seamless, sophisticated, polished and very long, the mouth-feel is a highlight courtesy of the creamy lees and oak work, combined with precise acid balance. The length and persistence are excellent. A superior effort. (RRP $30).