|The Lane RG Chardonnay|
13.5%, Screwcap, $100
It feels a little tawdry to be focusing attention on prices, but it's hard not to ignore the figures with this wine. $100, for a Chardonnay? And a Chardonnay from a largely unheralded producer at that? Audacious. Gutsy. Statement stuff even. But realistic? Probably not. Not whilst Chardonnay is still at a low ebb in the social consciousness, and especially not when the likes of Leeuwin AS, Pierro, Oakridge 864, Penfolds Reserve Bin et al. all sit underneath that magical three figure mark. In fact, I can only think of two Australian Chardonnays that sell for three figures - Giaconda and Yattarna, both of which have a decade+ worth of megastar vintages to show for the pricetag.
You know what? The juice in the bottle is That Good. The length, the nose, the palate, the lot - all scream top end quality. Scream 'shit hot booze' at a volume that is hard to ignore. As a result, I'd say that if dollars aren't really a concern to you, then seek out a bottle of this just for your own enjoyment. Or just for interest really. The figures don't quite add up, but the drinking quality does, and in the wrap up that's all that counts really, doesn't it?
Anyway, the wine itself - it smells expensive. Of expensive French oak and high quality fruit. It was served blind to me and I thought it was Penfolds Yattarna actually, such was the style and weight on the nose... It's a lovely nose, full of golden, whipped butter and spicy vanillan wood with a bit of milky way/nougat richness in there. It's a big and quite oaky nose, but for lovers of Chardonnay it's absolute pure sex. It's a lovely, opulent nose whichever way you look at it, even if the nose is a fraction oak heavy.
On the palate: Well, it matches the quality of the nose. It's long, super long even, linear and dry, with not a hair out of place. Citrus, nougat characters over proper acidity. The whole kaboodle. The finish is immaculate - I kept waiting for a wobble, but it just looked long and dry and fresh. I hate to chuck in the ubiquitous cultural cringe, but there is more than a little Chassagne Montrachet (Burgundy) action in this wine.
In the wash, I'm happy to call this a top flight Australian Chardonnay. Besides the quibble of the oak dominance, this looks so very fine indeed. Is it worth the dollars? I'm not totally convinced, but gee it makes a very strong claim... 18.6/94