Sunday, November 1, 2015

Three Excellent Chardonnays

When Jancis Robinson, the hardest working wine critic, last visited Australia, her conclusion was that Chardonnay is Australia's sweet spot at present. And while I prefer to drink red wine at night, I must say I have hardly been disappointed by any Australian Chardonnays I have had lately. Here are three excellent ones.

The 2013 Oakridge Willowlake Chardonnay is fashioned in the light and refreshing style typical for the Yarra Valley. This wine is relatively forward, with generous citrus flavours, very well made as an easy drinking style (93 points).

The 2014 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay is bigger with green apple notes dominant. New oak is quite noticeable. This wine is quite precise going down the palate in a linear, but arresting fashion, and finishing long (95 points).

I know a bit more about the 2014 Silkman Reserve Chardonnay. This wine is made by famous Hunter Valley winemaker Liz Jackson. She and her husband Shaun Silkman have access to quite a number of top vineyards, given their long history in the valley. This wine shot to fame by winning the James Halliday Chardonnay challenge against hundreds of competitors. The Reserve is barrel selected, with complex flavours of apple, pineapple and grapefruit. No malolactic fermentation. About 60% new oak is in the background. The grapes are picked ripe, but at the early window, giving the wine great freshness, while retaining depth. The finish is intriguing, with softness on the palate as well as natural acidity. It will be very interesting to see this wine evolving (95 points).      

It is accidental that these wines come from three different regions. Great Chardonnay is made everywhere in Australia. Now the problem is often availability. The Oakridge wine would have been a small production, and the Silkman is almost sold out, given its astonishing success.

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