New Release Chardonnay: March 2023
Barry Weinman: 11th March 2023
In a line-up of quite expensive white Burgundies, three wines stood out for the quality and value that was on offer.
The highest pointed wine in this blind tasting was the Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay. That it sells for less than half the price of some of the comparators is testament to the value and quality that is available in Australia.
Even better value was the “premium” chardonnay (gold capsule) from Vasse Felix. At $50, this was the cheapest wine in the tasting, but it performed admirably, showing a purity of fruit missing in some of the French wines.
The surprise for me was the quality offered by Domaine Humbert’s Bourgogne. Whilst I can find no information on this wine, I am informed that the fruit for this comes from Gevrey-Chambertin and wears the humble Bourgogne label as a result, even though this has been carefully crafted including the use of a portion of new oak barrels.
I strongly encourage you to try these wines if the opportunity presents.
Domaine Humbert Fréres – Bourgogne Blanc – Chardonnay – 2019. This stood out in the tasting for the combination of minerally, savoury notes typical of the region and superb fruit that shows impressive depth and power. There is an amalgam of stone fruit, pineapple and citrus, but no single feature stands out. The palate is near seamless and the intensity and length of flavours are noteworthy. Very impressive indeed. As this is a white Gevrey-Chambertin, it wears the Bourgogne label. 94+pts – $???. From Lamont’s in Cottesloe.
Vasse Felix – Heytesbury – Chardonnay – 2021. I like this a lot. Initially, it felt like the fruit weight has been pared back in comparison to earlier releases, but in a big glass, this really opened up over an hour or so to reveal beautifully ripe and pure fruit complemented by minerality and acidity that combine with the winemaking inputs to make for a superb wine. The finish is refined, elegant and restrained, yet there is considerable depth and power. An exciting wine that deserves fine food (A simple mushroom risotto worked a treat). 96pts – $120.
Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – 2021 . This has been really well made. The precise ripe fruit is fine and elegant, supported by texturing oak and lees work that elevates this beyond the norm. Gentle stonefruit and citrus notes build in the glass and the texture is noteworthy. Lacks the ultimate depth of the Heytesbury, but is a fine wine by any standard and excellent value to boot. It does need time to open up, or serve it in a big glass and give it plenty of air. Like the Heytesbury, do not serve this too cold. 93-94pts – $50.