Craiglee Chardonnay 2006 (Sunbury, Vic)
$28, Diam (and a challenge to get out too), 14.5%
Australia needs more wineries like Craiglee. Hands on in every sense of the world, the gravity fed winery true to its century old (reborn) history. The wines themselves are distinctively variable according to the vagaries of vintage, and absolutely true to their terroir - they will also age quite handsomely, even the Chardonnay will live for a decade + from good years.
The challenge with such an operation however is that results can be fickle, as this Chardonnay shows. From an obviously warm vintage, this (and its more renowned brother, the Shiraz) has an air of overripe fatness that is atypical for this winery and not entirely appealing.
A golden yellow colour & a with a layer of tartrate crystals that just emphasises the 'naturalness' of this wine (no interventionary cold stabilization here). The nose is rich & ripe, with caramel, figs & vanilla custard, smelling both invitingly generous and overly big & chubby. The palate follows the nose with more chunky delicious ripeness, interlaced with marshmallow and butterscotch icecream. The problem (or at least, it doesn't sit well with me) is the alcohol. The 14.5% alc/vol burns the whole way down here and derails the enjoyment quite considerably.
In the end, this comes across as happily natural in its construction but also simply too overripe and alcoholic. Plenty to like however, especially if you like some balls in your Chardys.
Oh and if you ever get a chance to go to the annual Craiglee open day, do it. Held in the (draughty) old cellar, there are a host of older vintages available for tasting that just serves to highlight how interestingly (and occasionally brilliant) the wines from this historic winery can be. 16.6
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