Saturday, September 17, 2016

Australia's Best Chardonnay Producer?

Toolangi is not a household name as a leading Australian wine producer. This is perhaps because it has no winery of its own and no cellar door. The focus is on producing great fruit near Dixons Creek in the Yarra Valley and then have leading winemakers make the wine. They have three tiers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and produce a Shiraz. The four top wines coming off their own vineyard are the Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the Reserve wines, which come from especially designated blocks.

The 2015 Toolangi Estate Chardonnay is made by David Bicknell from Oakridge. Wild yeast fermentation is his trademark. The wine underwent no malolactic fermentation. It spent 8 months in 500 litre pungent barrels, 50% new. Citrus and white peach flavours. The fruit weight is terrific, not too little, not too much. This is a very harmonious wine showing a good dose of minerality. The acidity provides a perfect balance. Drinks well now and will age for 10 years.

Score: 96/+++

The 2012 Toolangi Reserve Block F Chardonnay is made by Rick Kitzbrunner of Giaconda.  Many ask how this came about, as Rick does not make wine for anybody else. When Kitzbrunner started Giaconda, he had no winery to begin with, but Gary Hounsell, the Toolangi owner, had a little facility nearby and allowed Rick to use it. So Rick is now returning the favour. This Chardonnay is a bigger wine, made in the style of a Burgundy Grand Cru. The yield for the grapes is 1t/acre (2t/acre for the Estate wine). After undergoing malolactic fermentation, the wine is matured for two years in barrique, 50% new. This is quite a powerful and rich style, but it is not buttery. Hazelnut and almond flavours add to the complexity of the fruit. The oak adds some spice. Not many Chardonnays are made this way in Australia, but it all hangs together. This wine makes a statement.

Score: 96/++

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