My love affair with Western Australian Chardonnay shows no sign of ending any time soon. Whether the fruit comes from Margaret River, Porongurup, Denmark or Mount Barker does not seem to impact on the quality. In fact, some, like Howard Park, blend fruit from several of these areas.
Interestingly, despite the climatic differences between these districts, this does not seem to directly translate into the wine style produced. Picking time and winemakers’ inputs also play a big role, along with clonal selection for the vineyards.
To keep the locals honest, I put a bottle of the Coldstream Hills Chardonnay into the tasting (Yarra Valley). This is a cracking wine and, at $25 on special from Vintage Cellars, represents very good value.
It was the wines of Howard Park and Singlefile that flew the flag admirably for the locals. This is the first time that I have seen both wineries’ new flagships
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Allingham – 2013 (18.5+). Cashew nut, lemon zest, grapefruit and spice, with complexity and structure from the fine-grained high quality oak. Fine acidity adds to the mouth-feel. The underlying power of the wine becomes apparent with air. This is a lovely, refined wine, with great depth of fruit and supple texture. A superb drink now or in 5+ years. (RRP $89).
Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2014 (18/18.5). Complex, though subtle worked characters here. Minerals/curry leaf, partial malo, lees contact and quality oak all add to the package. The flavour profile matches the nose, with stonefruit, pineapple and citrus notes. Long and quite restrained, with nutty characters and apricot kernel astringency to close. An excellent wine that will be even better in 5 years. (RRP $50).
Singlefile – Chardonnay – The Vivienne – 2012 (18/18.5). A leaner, more restrained style that appears somewhat immature at this stage. Full of potential, the taut grapefruit and melon notes are the main flavours now. With air, the texture and lovely mouth-feel really shine, aided by deftly handled oak leading on to a very long, drying palate. Give it 5 years to see it at its best. (RRP $80).
Howard Park – Chardonnay – 2014 (18.3). Restrained and fine, though the high quality fruit and winemaking is evident. Pineapple like acidity carries the finish. Modern and lively, this is another wine that needs a few years to come into its own. That said, the balance and structure are exemplary. A complex, mouth-watering wine that needs time. (RRP $54).
Coldstream Hills – Chardonnay – 2013 (18). Youthful, almost zesty fruit gives way to complex fruit characters. The high quality oak adds depth and texture, yet is in no-way overt. Long and taut, this has excellent presence and mouth-feel, with drying acidity to close. A fine wine that will be best in 2 – 3 years, or with food now.
Marchand and Burch – Chardonnay – Porongurup – 2014 (18 – 18.5). This is a richly textured wine with great depth of fruit. Opens with lovely pineapple and stonefruit characters. The palate is very long, with savoury complexity and minerals becoming apparent on the finish. This is a very powerful wine that will be at its best in 3 – 5 years. (RRP $73).
Reviewed by Barry Weinman