Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Chardonnay – New Release

Reviewed: 10 February 2013

This tasting again highlighted the evolution of Australian Chardonnay. Earlier picked and lower in alcohol, these wines can be quite thrilling. The Howard Park and Squitchy Lane are excellent examples.

The Killerby sits in the middle, having more richness to the fruit, yet retaining elegance and subtlety. Delicious stuff.


Howard Park – Chardonnay – 2011 (18). Starts in the leaner style with more minerality than a lot of Australian chardonnays. There is peachy fruit with pineapple hints on the palate, (most likely from the inclusion of Mendoza clone fruit). The palate opens to become quite viscous and mouth-coating, the finish balanced by lovely acidity. There is high quality, yet restrained oak and the length is admirable. Will age gracefully over the next five years, but this is a super drink right now! (13% alc).

Squitchy Lane – Chardonnay – Yarra Valley – 2010 (17.8). The restrained nose speaks of quality winemaking in a modern, lean style. There is a lovely palate that is creamy and textured, yet fine and elegant. This has high quality fruit that expresses as white peach and nectarine. There is a degree of richness to the fruit on the palate that is very compelling. The finish is near seamless with the acid and oak adding depth rather than overt flavour. The complex, worked characters round out the finish. Will be even better with another year or two in bottle. (13% alc).

Marchand & Burch – Chardonnay – Porongurup – 2011 (17.7). Closed and tight, this only hints at potential. The palate is superb, with hints of pineapple (? from mendoza clone vines) as well as stonefruit. This is lean and elegant, with grapefruit acidity to close. The length is admirable, but it is a modern style that needs 3 – 5 years to show its best.

Killerby – Chardonnay – 2011 (17.5+). A more opulent style that is still quite elegant, though the finish is a touch firm right now. Opens to show quality fruit and winemaking. The palate has excellent balance and you can sense that with time, the fruit will uncoil to show its power. Excellent winemaking. Compared to the Howard Park, this is quite a rich wine, but it is still well balanced.

West Cape Howe – Chardonnay – 2012 (16.5). Whilst it does not say so on the front label, this is an unwooded example. The nose is dominated by fresh and vibrant tropical fruit notes. The palate is fresh and lively, with the tropical fruit lingering. Easy summer drinking and a good alternative to a NZ sauvignon blanc.

New Release Imports

Reviewed: 30 January 2013

An interesting point came up for discussion during the tasting came when one panellist berated me for not giving the white Burgundies higher points. He pointed out that the wines had only recently landed and will undoubtedly be better in a month or two’s time when they have settled.

The problem with this view is that I can only assess what is in my glass and compare that to my personal frame of reference. Perhaps my points are a little low, but this is better than having them too high.

Another point was made in regards to the points that are given to Australian wines. It was suggested that these wines were significantly better than many Australian wines and therefore should get higher points. I would counter with the view that the wines are different. A $30 Australian chardonnay scoring 17.5pts is, in my mind at least, the equal of a Burgundy scoring 17.5pts. That the wines are stylistically different does not diminish my enjoyment for both.

Indeed, I would suggest that for the average consumer who does not try many French wines, the Australian wine will be more enjoyable. We are naturally influenced by our past experiences and what we are familiar with.

This is the beauty of wine; it can be all things to all people!

A fascinating tasting of high quality wines.

White Burgundy

Domaine Jean Monnier & Fils – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – 2008 (17.8). Restrained and tight, this is a lovely wine with really potential. There are hints of pineapple, grapefruit and pineapple on the nose in quite a modern style. Very long, slightly viscous, yet not cloying, with a lovely minerality to the fruit on the palate. The acid and oak are well judged and the oak is high quality.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – 1er Cru – Meursault-Charmes – 2010 (17.8). Minerals and curry leaf over peach, nectarine, cashew nut and citrus fruit characters. The palate matches the nose perfectly, with intense, yet refined fruit matched to high quality oak. Seamless and creamy, the finish is a treat.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – Meursault – La Barre – 2010 (17.7). Restrained on the nose compared to the Puligny. This is an elegant wine of some charm. The fruit is remarkably long and is carried by grapefruit like acidity. The length here is outstanding as is the mouth-feel and texture. The fruit builds and evolves and there are minerals and nutty fruit on the finish. A few years would only help this wine.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – 1er Cru – Puligny Montrachet – Les Chalumeaux – 2010 (17.5+). Lean and angular, this is a wine for another day. It really needs time to fill out and expand on both the nose and the palate. Perhaps from a cooler year, the structure and acidity are excellent. In terms of descriptors, the wine shows lemony fruit and acid, stonefruit, grapefruit, melon and mealy complexity.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – 2008 (17.5+). Quite forward fruit on the nose combined with strong minerality, curry leaf and almond meal. The palate is very rich and round, showing more of the mineral characters, lemon zest, almond meal and complex, struck match and flint highlights. Not for the faint hearted, this is a rich white Burgundy.

Domaine Jean Monnier & Fils – Chardonnay – 1er Cru – Meursault – Genevrieres – 2010 (17.5) Creamy fruit on the nose, with minerals and spice. Somewhat developed and honeyed, but the acid is still fresh and keeps the palate alive. Long and succulent, this is a good wine that opens and evolves. There is a touch of vanillin oak to close. A Subtle, yet abundant wine with excellent length.

Assorted Red Wines

Emilie Geantet – Pinot Noir – Gevrey-Chambertin – 1er Cru – Cherbaudes – 2010 (17.8+). More density here. Powerful, spicy fruit with hints of licorice, clove and even star anise. Long and savoury, this is a step up in terms of fruit density and quality. Textured, long and almost chewy, this is a quality wine. Needs time.

Emilie Geantet – Pinot Noir – Fixin – 2010 (17.8). Lovely nose showing ripe, fragrant fruit. The palate is more about structure and spice than ripe fruit. There is excellent length and depth to the quality fruit and the texture really fleshes out with air. An excellent Fixin from a producer to watch out for.

Domaine Thenard – Pinot Noir – 1er Cru – Givry – Clos Saint Pierre 2009 (17.3). Initially tight and restrained, this opens to show perfumed fruit on the nose and palate, with spice, cherry and plum over cedar. The fruit is not overly dense, but it is ripe and the wine is well made.

Domaine Des Combiers – Gamay – Fleurie – La Cadole – 2011 (17 – 17.5). Fragrant and lively fruit on the nose, with red berries and gentle spice. The palate is fresh, light, succulent and juicy. There are savoury hints to close on an easy drinking and quite delicious red wine. This may have seen some carbonic maceration to add more life to the fruit.

Domaine La Cabotte – Cotes du Rhone – 2008 (17). Clean and fresh, with dense dark fruits. Think licorice, spice, cinnamon and cherry. The palate is textured and spicy , with little oak influence, but really deap tasting fruit. Smart wine.

Chardonnay – New Release

Reviewed: 20 December 2012

Overall, this was a smart line-up that threw up some real surprises. The highlight was the Hardy’s Oomoo. Who would have thought that a cheaper chardonnay could develop so well. It makes me think that a case of the Angove tucked away for a few years would be worth a punt, given how well it showed.

From a current drinking point of view, two wines stood out: The Willow Bridge and the Yerring Station. They are both delicious, though ultimately, the Yerring Station is the better wine, (and twice the price).


Millbrook – Chardonnay – Limited Release – 2011 (17.7 – 18.2). Aromas of stone-fruit and mealy, nutty characters over grapefruit and a touch of ginger spice. The palate has plenty of juicy peach fruit, with quality new oak evident. The barrel ferment and lees work adds lovely richness and texture to the palate. The length is excellent and the finish spot on. A bigger style that combines excellent fruit and quality oak, but the balance is a highlight. Will develop well.

Yering Station – Chardonnay – 2010 (17.5 – 18). A fresh, vibrant style that has creamy stone fruit characters and fresh citrus acid on the finish. There is lovely texture and mouth-feel and the balance is spot-on. Whilst this is a great drink now, it has the potential to offer even more with a couple of years in the bottle. My pick of the tasting for current drinking, but this developed remarkably over a few days on the tasting bench, so is sure to age well for a few years.

Angove – Chardonnay – Long Row – 2012 (17.5). Wow, what a surprise this wine was! Lovely creamy fruit aromas here that are quite complex and alluring. The palate is supple, round and generous, with peach, grapefruit and minerals combining with good quality oak. The oak is very well integrated and really adds to the finish. This is a wine that I would like to drink in a few years as the fruit should really build and if anything, become more complex. At $10, this is worth a punt.

Devil’s Lair – Chardonnay – Hidden Cave – 2012 (17 – 17.5). This is the second time that I have reviewed this recently, and an extra month in the bottle has already seen this open up. The wine has a modern nose that shows grapefruit over stone-fruit aromas. The palate opens with clean, fresh fruit with a lovely citrus tang. There is life and vitality, with a hint of lees and oak to add interest. Not overly complex at present, this will make an excellent afternoon drink. Given time though, it will develop complexity and a degree of richness.

Hardys – Chardonnay – Oomoo – 2008 (17.5). This wine floored the panel when it was unveiled. I like the nose here for its minerals and subtle stone-fruit. There is even a hint of curry leaf that I associate with high quality burgundy. The palate has peach and nectarine flavours with quality, medium-toast oak on the finish. A supple, well integrated wine with grapefruit to close. (Not current release).

Swings & Roundabouts – Chardonnay – Backyard Stories – 2011 (17.5). A bigger style with buttery lees and oak. Interestingly there is quite sharp acid on the finish initially that cuts through the richness. Long and juicy, the fruit is actually very good and this really builds in the glass. This just gets better and better, with the fruit really tying to the high quality oak making for a complex wine.

Shingleback – Chardonnay – Kiss Me Kate – 2012 (17.5). A firm wine that has quality fruit and oak, yet is very reserved and shy. This is very much in the mould of the modern style that Australian winemakers are embracing. The palate is lean and angular, but it will develop with time. Opens up in the glass to show lime, peach and a touch of oak spice. The oak lingers on the finish, but this should integrate back in to the fruit with a little more time in the bottle. A remarkably refined chardonnay from McLaren Vale.

Willow Bridge – Chardonnay – Dragonfly – 2012 (17). Seductive nose that has clean, fresh, ripe fruit and subtle oak and lees aromas. The palate is forward, showing rich fruit characters and fresh acid. The oak is nicely textured and adds depth. A very good wine for current drinking and should be excellent value.

De Bortoli – Chardonnay – La Bossa – 2011 (16.3). Relatively simple fruit that has been expertly made. The length of the palate is a standout feature. Soft and supple, the restrained nature of this wine will work beautifully with food.

Chardonnay & Pinot Gris

Reviewed: 14 July 2012

An interesting tasting with many wines not making it to this review. The pinot gris/grigio was interesting in that there was not a clear stylistic difference between those labelled “pinot gris” and those labeled “pinot grigio”. All the same, there are some good wines here.

The chardonnays were quite a diverse group, with taster preferences influencing the results. I for one, loved the 2009 Redbrook chardonnay, a wine that managed to balance riper fruit with a degree of drinkability that was hard to resist. One wag dubbed the 2008 Redbrook “Dolly Parton” as it was upfront and obvious.


Evans and Tate – Chardonnay – Redbrook – 2009 (17.8). Complex nose. This has it all. Pineapple and citrus fruit, creamy oak, barrel ferment and lees characters. The palate mirrors the nose well. This is long and fine. A good wine with subtle toast to close. Should continue to evolve well for a few years.

Evans and Tate – Chardonnay – Redbrook – 2008 (17+/-). A complex, well-worked wine that has decent fruit. The oak is of high quality, though the medium toast characters are a touch obvious. A wine of some charm with lots of creamy oak and leesy characters over deliciously ripe fruit. If you like a bigger style of Chardonnay, you will love this!

Ad Hoc – Chardonnay – Hen and Chicken – 2011 (17). Tight, creamy oak over quality fruit with flint highlights. The palate is seamless, textured, viscous and long. This is a subtle wine of great charm.

Stormflower – Chardonnay – 2011 (17). A quality wine showing creamy oak, pineapple, citrus and a cashew nut mealy character on the palate. I like this. Long and fine, the quality oak has been very well handled, balancing fruit, oak and lees. Not subtle, but so what.

Tomich Estate – Pinot Gris – Family Reserve (17). Complex wine that has seen plenty of winemaker’s inputs. Creamy oak, with a textured palate that is long and quite fine. The fruit characters that I would expect from the style are suppressed now, but it opens to show decent aromatics, with pear, red fruits and barrel ferment/lees characters.

Grant Burge – Pinot Gris – 2012 (16.9). Floral and lifted, with nutty fruit to close. This is quite viscous and dense and the hint of sweetness balances the wine nicely. Expressive, there is some viscosity and it finishes quite dry. A floral Barossa white has no right to taste this good.

Crittenden Estate – Pinot Grigio – Pinocchio – 2011 (16.8). More savoury than sweet fruit that suits the style well. The tart palate shows subdued fruit but is quite textured and long. This really goes on in the mouth. Well made wine.

Oxford Landing Estate – Pinot Grigio – 2011 (16). More musk-like fruit here. Nutty complexity to close with excellent length for a wine in this price range.

Chardonnay – New Release

Reviewed: 14 May 2012

Some superb wines reviewed here, but none more so than the sublime Art Series Chardonnay from Leeuwin Estate. The style continues to evolve into an ever-finer style, but the quality remains superb. Some of the more expensive wines did not show well initially. With time in the glass and (importantly) food, a few really blossomed. A good example of this came from Hay Shed Hill. The standard wine looked much better when first opened, but the next day, the Block 6 really blossomed.


Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2009 (18.3+). This started with delicate citrus and pineapple fruit on the nose, but it was the palate of this wine that delighted me. Powerful, concentrated, taut, refined and seamless, this is a superb wine. The length of flavours is outstanding, and the persistence is excellent. Seamless oak just adds a slightly toasty note to the finish. Serious, very carefully crafted, with wonderful acid to sustain the palate. Deserves a gold medal, but needs years to show its absolute best.

Frankland Estate – Chardonnay – Isolation Ridge – 2011 (17.8+). A touch more fruit up front, though the palate has intense minerality on top of powerful mendoza clone fruit. Ripe, though there is tingling acidity on a finish that really goes on. Builds in the mouth and will blossom with time. This wine was even better with food the next day.

Hay Shed Hill – Chardonnay – Block 6 – 2011 (17.5 – 18). A very good wine that is just far too young. Patience will be rewarded, so drink the standard release while you wait for this one to mature.

Deep Woods – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2009 (17.5+). Quite closed on the nose, while the palate is refined and supple. Sympathetic oak on the finish tends towards a touch of toast. This is balanced, fine and long, that took a day or two to show its best, but if you are impatient, it is fine drinking right now.

Hay Shed Hill – Chardonnay – 2011 (17.5). I like this. Fresh fruit and acid, with lovely minerality and spice on the nose. The palate has underlying power and is very long, though somewhat taut and unrewarding right now. Even six months will allow this wine to blossom. Excellent fruit, winemaking and creamy (high quality) oak to close.

Juniper Estate – Chardonnay – 2010 (17.5). Restrained and reserved, this is a taut wine that, while very well made, is not quite together yet. Oak, lemony fruit and acid are all good, but this needs a year to settle down. A serious wine.

Cave de Lugny – Chardonnay – Macon – Villages – 2010 (17). Hints of pineapple, struck match and curry leaf with a finish that is very dry and full of minerality. A complex, interesting wine that, whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, is a stylish wine that I enjoyed.

The Lane – Chardonnay – Beginning – 2009 (17+). Fresh, tight and delicious with a creamy textural component. This is not an overly dense wine, but it is a great drink. The finish is long and fine with well judged phenolics. Needs a year or two to open up.

Xanadu – Chardonnay – 2009 (17). Peachy fruit that is quite straightforward, though there are attractive worked characters on the nose and palate. Fresh and clean, with a touch of vanillin oak influence adding to a creamy finish. Well made.

Angove – Chardonnay – Organic – 2011 (16.5) A good quality wine here. Lemon brulée over tight fruit characters. Minerals, spice, flint and creamy oak all integrate on a stylish palate. Good length to a wine that is very well made and will be at its peak in about 6 – 12 months.

Cumulus – Chardonnay – Rolling – 2011 (16.5). Well made wine that received very strong support from two panellists. Value drinking over the next year or two.

Drakesbrook – Chardonnay – The Wild Bird – 2011 (16.5). Another well made wine that is not overly complex, but is a good drink now. With solid support from the entire panel, this represents value!

Oxford Landing Estate – Chardonnay – 2011 (16). A delicate wine, with stonefruit on the nose. The simple palate is commercial but sound, with a nice core of acid. Well made and exceptional value.

Aged White Wines

Whites – Mixed

Reviewed: 10 February 2011

With Summer in full swing, our group embarked on a tasting of quality whites that were a few years old. We ended up with an eclectic selection of (very) high quality wines.


Bruno Sorg – Riesling – Pfersigberg – Grand Cru – 2003 (17.5). Lovely oily texture, a hint of residual sugar and fresh acid makes for a lovely wine. Has a hint of floral notes and the very creamy, high quality oak rounds out the finish. Smart, seamless and beautifully crafted. From Alsace.

Clairault – Chardonnay – 2006 (17.3). Perfectly ripe fruit on the nose with pineapple overtones. The oak is evident on the palate, though there are some tropical fruit notes underneath. Opens with air, developing butterscotch and stonefruit. Gets better and will settle further with age.

Moss Wood – Chardonnay – 2004 (17.8). Seamless and beautifully balanced, this is a superb wine. The texture and mouth-feel are spot on and the finish is near seamless. The quality oak merely caresses the finish on the close and the length is driven by the elegant fruit.

Leasingham – Riesling – Classic Clare – 2005 (17.7). Lovely riesling that is fresh, lively, floral, vibrant, seamless, long and intense. This is a very fine wine of real class. Excellent length. Is showing the first signs of age, but is still very youthful.

Sonoma Cutrer – Chardonnay – Russian River Ranchs – 2008 (17.8). Another superb wine. This is a richer style with plenty of quality winemaking inputs. Think creamy oak, lees stirring and (partial?) malo-lactic fermentation. Again, the mendoza clone is evident, but the pineapple fruit characters are well handled. There are plenty of stonefruit notes and almond to close.

Domain Emilan Gillet – Chardonnay – Quintaine – Vire-Clesse – 2002 (18.2). Very interesting wine. Superb palate with great length. It is the exhilarating acid that makes the finish so memorable. Lemon brullee, texture and spice on a palate that builds and evolves. Excellent chablis with minerals to burn. At its peak.

Domaine Chandon De-Brialles – Chardonnay – Corton – Grand Cru – 2005 (18). Very creamy nose, this wine is a highlight. Intense and powerful, there is still a degree of restraint. Superb fruit, the wine really builds and is classically structured. The minerality on the palate is superb.

Penfolds – Chardonnay – Bin 06A – 2006 (17.5+). Wow. Amazing wine. Young and fresh, the high quality fruit and oak are evident, but not integrated. Has a long future, but needs five to ten years to peak.

Alain Gautheron – Chardonnay – Chablis – Vaucaupin – 1er Cru – 2005 (18.3). A superb wine here. Very tight and fresh, this is a seamless version of fine burgundy. Refined, this is delicate and very fine. Needs years, but enjoyable now. Amazing Chablis.

Rene Lequin-Colin – Chardonnay – Batard-Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2002 (18). Honeyed, long and rich, this is a developed but delightful wine of class and pedigree.

Heidi Schrock – Welsch Riesling/Pinot Gri/Pinot Blanc/Chardonnay – Ruster Ausbruch – 2005 (18.5). Apricot to the fore on the nose, this is really rich and enticing. Wow, immensely intense, yet beautifully balanced and refined. Botrytis to the fore, but the balance is special. Superb!

Guiraut – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Saturnes – 1er Cru – 1997 (18). Very cold. Pungent and raisin-like on the nose, this is a less mainstream and less sweet style that is refreshing yet spicy. As it warms, this opens to show viscosity and texture. Shows lots of almond meal and cashew with air. Delicious.

Le Mont – Chenin Blanc – Vouvray – Molleux – 1997 (17.5). Bread dough and a touch of ferment notes. Shines on the palate with great line and length. This is a very precise wine, that is aged and long. Complex, this really builds in the mouth. Drying finish, this is a delicate wine that shows spice to close. Won’t appeal to everyone, but worth trying.

Castagnia – Viognier – Aqua Santa – NV (17.7). Complex and deve

Chardonnay, Pinot and Rose

New Release

Reviewed: 15 February 2012

Is it just me or are wineries releasing their wines earlier and earlier? Many of the wines reviewed here need a year or two to show their best. If you are drinking them young, don’t serve them too cold and give them time in the glass to open up.

There were also a few good value pinot noirs.



Chene Bleu – Grenache/Shiraz – Rose – 2009 (16.5). Lovely pale salmon colour. Savoury, dry and refreshing, this has nice mouth-feel and texture. Good length and a touch of oiliness on the finish adds interest. This is a smart wine that will suit antipasto well.

Poudriere – Rose – Bastide Du Claux – 2010 (16.9). Very pale colour to what is a very pretty wine. Dry and refreshing, this has some lovely red berries on the palate with a savoury finish. Good mouth-feel and weight with a hint of oak influence perhaps?


Howard Park – Chardonnay – 2009 (18+). Deeper colour here. Tight and lean on the nose, showing white peach, citrus and hints of honey and toast. The power and quality of the fruit really comes through on the palate. This is complex and very intense, with rich stonefruit notes over a textured, complex finish. The vanillin oak and buttery lees notes complement the fruit very well. A serious wine of real power, this will delight over the next 5 years. From the Great Southern.

Singlefile Estate – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2010 (17.9+). A tighter style that works really well. This is elegant and long, showing grapefruit, peach and nectarine on the palate. Quality oak adds complexity to the finish. Pineapple acid adds to the finish as does a touch of mineral and struck match. This got even better with a day on the tasting bench.

Deep Woods – Chardonnay – 2011 (17.5+). Subdued and tight, this is seamless and silky in the mouth. An unusual wine in that no features define the wine, but it is very enjoyable. An elegant wine with a touch of musk to close. Will take a couple of years to hit its straps and fill out.

Yering Station – Chardonnay – Village – 2010 (17.2). Compared to the Howard Park, this is delicate and refined. A precise wine with hints of citrus and nectarine over a creamy finish. Very well made, the gentle oak and lees contact really adds to the package. Good length too. One panellist noted that the wine was very well made, using the fruit to best effect.

Hill-Smith Estate – Chardonnay – Eden Valley – 2010 (17). Complex, creamy nose, with an appealing minerality on top. Powerful fruit on the palate that has been massaged with some skill in the winery. Quality oak is a bit obvious now, but should settle, as the wine integrates well with air.

Yering Station – Chardonnay – Little Yering – 2010 (16.9). Well made, if uncomplicated wine with varietally correct fruit characters and enough winemaking inputs to flesh out the palate. Easy drinking and enjoyable.

The Arm Chair Critic – Chardonnay – Over & Under – 2010 (16.5). This received good support with the panel appreciating the good length and pretty fruit that had grapefruit overtones. Will be better in another year or so and should represent good value.

Pinot Noir

St Huberts – Pinot Noir – 2010 (17 – 17.5). Delicate fruit on the nose. The palate hints at strawberry. This is very well made and quite silky, while the textural components add life to the mid palate. Very good length, this needs 5 years to show its best. Great to see a wine of this quality under this label.

Yering Station – Pinot Noir – Village – 2010 (17.3). Fresh, vibrant and appealing wine. There are hints of cherry and plenty of spice, with good length and a touch of complexity on the finish. This actually builds nicely in the mouth, suggesting that a few years would see it improve. Develops fleshy fruit of real appeal with air. Cherry and spice to close.

Mad Fish – Pinot Noir – Grand Stand – 2010 (17.2). A bigger style with immediate appeal. There is lovely cherry fruit with hints of plum and aniseed on the finish. In fact, there is a touch of fresh fennel and star anise. This is lush and velvety in the mouth and oh so easy to drink. Not that complex, but who cares.

Yering Station – Pinot Noir – Little Yering – 2010 (16.7). Some appeal here. This is a straightforward, slightly sappy wine that would suit food well. There is, perhaps, a touch of carbonic maceration that adds a hint of candy.

White Burgundy and Champagne

Current Release

Reviewed: 17 January 2012


I had the privilege of sitting in on this high quality tasting of white Burgundy and a few champagnes. There were some tremendous wines, and a great value champagne in the Brut Origine from Tribaut Schloesser.

These wines have limited availability, so try your local fine wine retailer.


Tribaut SchloesserBrut Origine – NV (17.7). Restrained, light and joyful, this is a great aperitif. Very youthful and quite restrained, this is a delightful drink. There are hints of minerality and a prettiness to the finish. Not overly complex, but who cares. (Try Lamont’s Cottesloe).

VilmartGrand Reserve – NV (17.9+). Very fresh, with subtle complexity, this is almost chablis-like on the finish. Good mid palate weight and texture, the lemony acid carries the finish. Give it a couple of years to show its best.

Pierre PetersBlanc de Blanc – NV (17.8). Round, soft, relatively complex and balanced. A very good all-round champagne with lovely autolysis and bread dough characters. The length is impressive and the finish complex and with weight. Would work very well with lighter food.

Tribaut SchloesserCuvee Rene – NV (18.2). Fine, complex and alluring nose. Superb balance on the palate. This is a blend of freshness and just enough development to make the finish complex and very satisfying. Yes, this will improve for quite a few years in the bottle, but it is a great drink now. A very refined wine, with superb balance and length of flavour.

Etienne Sauzet – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – 2008 (17.7). Subdued nose. The palate is quite rich and very typical of burgundy with hints of honey too. There is a lovely minerality running through the wine and the structure supports the fruit well. Good length, though not overly complex at this stage, this is very enjoyable. Very well made, with good depth and concentration, the quality oak and high acidity stop this from fully expressing itself right now. Give it a few years!

Philippe Chavy – Chardonnay – Meursault – Les Charmes – 1er Cru – 2009 (17.8). Quite restrained initially with a steely core of tight fruit. Lovely wine of some power, yet the balance is excellent. Beautiful mouth-feel, this is very long and very precise. There are hints of lemon and minerals and the texture/viscosity works very well. This will fill out and become a great all-round wine.

Thierry & Pascal Matrot – Chardonnay – Meursault-Charmes – 1er Cru – 2007 (18.2). Richer, with minerals, quality oak and ripe fruit in evidence on the nose. Seamless, balanced and integrated, this is tight and very restrained. Just a baby, the lemony acid and well judged oak flesh out the finish. Subtle viscosity with minerality makes the finish work, but it will be even better in 2-3 years.

Domaine Bernard Bonin – Chardonnay – Meursault-Charmes – 1er Cru – 2007 (17.7). Hints of pineapple to the fruit, suggesting a degree of ripeness. Vanilla, crème brullee, spice, honey and lemon curd – this has it all. Develops honey and toasty oak on the finish. A bigger, richer style with obvious appeal.

Blain Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet – Les Caillerets – 1er Cru – 2009 (17.9). Reserved/restrained, but suggests potential. Wow, whilst the wine is cold (too long in the fridge) and closed, this has a near seamless palate with lemon, honeysuckle, and fresh acidity. The oak is very much in the background, integrating very well with the fruit. Really needs 5 – 10 yrs to show its best.

Thierry & Pascal Matrot Meaursualt – Blagny – 1er Cru – 2005 (17.8). In a tasting, there are some wines that you actually have to drink to appreciate. This is delicate, subtle and silky. There is gentle honey, mead and floral notes. The amazing thing is how this builds on the finish with spice, espescially cinnamon and nutmeg.

Domaine Darviot-PerrinMeaursualt – Perrieres – 1er Cru – 2006 (18.5+). This has both the power and the intensity of a great wine. Curry leaf minerality leads the nose and the palate, but there is so much more. Generous and round in the mouth, there is high quality oak to support the ripe fruit. Textured and complex… I love it. Superb fruit quality. Immense length. Elegance as well.

Domaine Darviot-Perrin Blanchot-Dessus – 1er Cru – 2006 (18.5+/-). Another sensational wine, this is mouth-coating and viscous, yet alive and refreshing. The length is fantastic and the palate fans out. Not for the faint-hearted, but a wine that we should all try. Opens to show pineapple fruit that is powerful. One reviewer found a touch of marmalade that made them question whether there was a touch of botrytis.

Chardonnay – New Release

Reviewed: 4 November 2011

This was another tasting that saw many wines cut before making it to this page. In general, the wines were actually very good, the problem was that they were just too young. With the move to a more restrained style of chardonnay, wines from the 2011 vintage are very tight and hard to assess.

Some of the wines looked more like SSBs, as they still had some of the tropical ferment characters in evidence (like passionfruit). Lets put this in perspective. The grapes for these wines are likely to have been picked, vinified, oak aged and bottled by September. At only 7 months of age, it is no wonder that they are youthful.

So apologies to the likes of Devil’s Lair, West Cape Howe and Flametree (2010 in this case). The wines were of very high quality, I just could not get a handle on them.


Cape Mentelle – Chardonnay – 2010 (18+). Another very smart wine in the modern style. Restraint is the key ingredient, though there is quality fruit and slick winemaking poking through. The palate is light, fresh, refined, silky and seamless. All potential now, this will blossom.

Stella Bella – Chardonnay – Serie Luminosa – 2009 (18). Closed. Creamy, seamless palate that has hints of pineapple over lovely winemaking inputs. The length and quality of fruit are a feature, while the oak handling is superb. A very good wine that will be at its best in 3 – 4 years.

Flametree – Chardonnay – SRS – 2010 (17.8+). Closed and restrained, this is a smart wine. Very reserved, very long and very young. Delicate and subtle. Will be very good in time. From Wallcliffe region.

Grant Burge – Chardonnay – Summers – 2010 (17.6). A lovely wine that would be my pick to drink now. This has balance and poise that is missing in some here. The fruit is subdued on the nose, but everything is in place. The palate is superb. Refined, silky and quite seamless, this has plenty of class. Whilst modern, this is rich and textured. Good fruit and careful oak use in evidence. This could benefit from a few years in the cellar, but it is more generous than the Cape Mentelle, making it a better drink young.

Devil’s Lair – Chardonnay – The Hidden Cave – 2011 (17.5). Lovely nose with minerals and spice. The acidity dominates the palate making it hard to assess the fruit. This is a very good wine and it will blossom in time. Whilst fruit driven in style, there are complex winemaker inputs too. Just don’t drink it now.

Frankland Estate – Chardonnay – Isolation Ridge – 2010 (17.5). Interesting wine. This is controlled and tight, though there has been good fruit used and quality winemaking. The length here is the key, this really goes on. Totally modern and fine, this will take 5 years in the cellar. This is near seamless and the oak just caresses the finish.

Singlefile Estate – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2009 (17.5). Quite a structured nose with lees, malo and oak in evidence . On the palate, the fruit shines through with peach and nectarine over creamy textural notes. Hints of cashew to close. Develops pineapple and has lovely acidity. Quality fruit made in a slightly bigger style.

West Cape Howe – Chardonnay – Styx Gully – 2010 (17.2). Closed on the nose. The quality is hinted at on the palate, but this is too young to really enjoy right now. Modern and light, with quality fruit and lovely texture.

Angove – Chardonnay – Vineyard Select – 2010 (17+). Youthful, tight and unrewarding now. The fruit is suppressed and the (high quality) oak dominates the finish. This has serious fruit and quality winemaking. A great buy at $18.

Tyrell’s – Chardonnay – Moon Mountain – 2010 (17). Simple but good quality fruit on the nose. Nice wine this. Good fruit runs through the palate with gentle stonefruit and slight lees, savoury and textural notes to close. The oak has been used well, with a slight toastiness to close. Smart wine. (At $15 from Dan Murphy, this is great value Hunter chardonnay).

Chardonnay and Rose


New Release

Reviewed – 20 August 2011

I have mentioned before that Rose is a wine without a clear definition of style. This tasting has gone part way in changing my opinion. All three wines reviewed are worth a look at, but the Turkey Flat is a good drink in any context. I actually had a glass of this with a cassolet, and it went down a treat.

There were also some very smart chardonnays. Interestingly, there was a cross-section of styles from the bigger, more obvious style of “The Pick” to the racy and nervous drive of the Vasse Felix. Both are excellent expressions of chardonnay, just different.

The star of the tasting was the Hardys. A wine of balance and refinement that while drinking a treat now, will live for several years to come.


Hardys – Chardonnay – HRB/D643 – 2008 (18). Fresher fruit nose here. This wine has immediate appeal. Quality fruit, judicious oak and skilled winemaking combine to make a wine of real length and elegance. The palate is long and refined, with stonefruit and citrus notes. The oak is a mere whisper in the background, adding texture and mouth-feel. A joy to drink!

Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – 2010 (17.8+). Refined and pristine nose with stonefruit characters. Has good quality fruit and quality oak handling. A long and textured palate, with lovely lemony acidity to close. Everything is in place to make this a star, it just needs a couple of years for the fruit, oak and acidity to come into balance.

Warner Glen Estate – Chardonnay – 2008 (17.8). Complex nose. Lovely minerality in the style of Chablis, with a touch of struck match, almond and cashew nut too. The palate is long and fine with a degree of viscosity. The finish is dominated by the medium toast but high quality oak, but hopefully this will settle in the bottle.

Warner Glen Estate – Chardonnay – The Pick – 2009 (17.5+). Bigger style with obvious malo-lactic fermentation, barrel ferment and lees stirring notes. Medium toast oak provides some toasty characters to the finish. Quality fruit, but this is a bigger wine. Although this is starting to develop, it took three days to show its best. In many ways, this is the opposite of the Vasse Felix.

d’Arenberg – Chardonnay – The Olive Grove – 2010 (17). Zesty citrus notes over ripe fruit. The palate is flooded with passionfruit and zippy acidity. Young, fresh and intense, there is refreshing bitter almond to close. This was a real surprise.

The Lane – Chardonnay – Block 3 – 2009 (17). Lovely nose. Peachy fruit, with creamy textural notes. The palate is restrained and tight, though there is skilled winemaking on show. There is creaminess to the finish with a gentle mealy finish. Develops butterscotch and lees/oak influences. Should score better in a year or two.


Turkey Flat – Rose – 2010 (17). A bit more fruit weight here, with some sappy cabernet fruit with real length. I like this as a sunny afternoon drink and the drying finish adds appeal. Smart packaging helps to make this a “must try” this spring.

Stella Bella – Rose – Skuttlebutt – 2011 (16.7). Fresh, fragrant and vibrant with lovely cherry fruit. This has obvious appeal. Savoury and mouth-watering, this would take a light snack well. Well judged residual sugar leaves the palate quite dry.

Devils Lair – Rose – Fifth Leg – 2011 (16.4). Quite a neutral nose and palate. The finish is savoury and quite long. A good wine that is suited to savoury food.