Chardonnay: July 2020
Barry Weinman: 18th July 2020
I am a huge fan of Riesling, a variety that can also claim the title of best value white wine in Australia. But in the cooler months, Chardonnay is my go-to white.
With the temperature in the cellar approaching fifteen degrees, this is a little too cold to get the most out of a decent Cabernet or Shiraz. The cooler temperatures tend to suppress the fruit characters, which can sometimes make the wines look a little unbalanced.
Worse still, serving them too cold can suck the joy out of the wine, making for a less than ideal experience. And it is unlikely to warm up much with an hour or two on the kitchen bench.
Fifteen degrees is, however, an excellent temperature to drink Chardonnay. But this comes with a caveat: make it a good one. Lesser quality whites are best served well chilled, as this masks some of the less desirable characters.
Obviously in summer, the wine is going to warm up in the glass, necessitating more time in the fridge, but mid-winter, this is not an issue (in my house at least).
In my experience, better quality Chardonnay can really express its character as it warms up in the glass. If it feels a little too warm, then a short stint in the fridge will do the trick.
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Gingin – Wilyabrup – 2019 – (18.3/20pts – $39). Complexity here is a feature. Creamy lees and barrel work, supple oak and ripe stone fruit all express on the nose. The palate is intense, powerful and very long, with the supple texture a highlight, courtesy of very fine, tight grain oak. Delicious and almost seamless, with grapefruit acidity to close.
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Margaret River – 2019 (18.5/20pts – $60). Pretty floral notes with depth and intensity to the fruit and just a touch of caramel oak and lees. Power builds on the palate and is most impressive. The oak has been subsumed by the fruit contributing to the near seamless palate transition. A potent wine that needs a year or two to settle.
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Laissez Faire – 2019 (18.5/20pts – $39). Pretty, perfumed, focussed, fine and intense. The powerful, yet sublime fruit has clear cool region characters and grapefruit acidity. The clever oak and lees work add to the appeal. Gets extra points for drinkability, as this is delicious straight out of the bottle.
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Dijon – 2019. (18.5+/20pts – $45). Opens with complex, struck match and flint notes courtesy of the vanillin oak and supple lees work. The palate shows ripe stone fruit over complex yet supple worked characters and is very long and intense. Beautiful mouthfeel, with gentle toast from the oak and fine grapefruit acidity. Will be even better with a year or two in bottle.
Forest Hill – Chardonnay – Block 8 – 2016 (18/20pts – $50). A viscous, textured wine, where the toast from the oak is a little more obvious at present but this should settle in the bottle. The intense, pristine fruit is at the core of this wine with impressive depth and power. This is a powerful wine that demands attention.
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Allingham – 2018 (18.3/20pts). Rounded and balanced, with subtlety, elegance and finesse. Long and very fine with pristine acidity, this is remarkably good drinking right now. However there is an intensity to the fruit that suggests that this will improve over the next 3 – 5 years at least.
Shingleback – Chardonnay – Red Knot – 2019 (17/20pts – $15). Pristine, fine fruit that is redolent of peach and nectarine, complemented by fragrant vanillin oak notes. The palate is bright, and fresh, with gentle lees and malolactic fermentation notes. Straightforward? Sure, but this is an eminently drinkable wine and great value at $15.