Witches Falls Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2012 (Granite Belt, QLD)
13%, Screwcap, $30
My godparents live in Mt Tamborine, not far from the Witches Falls winery. It’s a lovely part of the world and close enough – yet also far enough away – from the Gold Coast and Brisbane, complete with beautiful views, plenty of bushwalking and no shortage of cellar doors/breweries/distilleries/etc.
Given its location – and the noted proximity to Brisbane/Gold Coast suburbia – it is probably of little surprise that this Gold Coast hinterland area is considered to be one of the public faces of the QLD wine industry.
Yet, in reality, most of the best wines aren’t sourced from anywhere near here. Rather, they come from the Granite Belt, a region 2 1/2 hours inland at what is the northern extension of the Great Dividing Range, where vineyards sit at between 750-1250m above sea level and carry the coolish climate to show for it (unlike the Gold Coast hinterland which is subtropical and warm).
The problem however is that this situation fosters a disconnect – with few of the best vineyards here, many producers specialise in weddings and hens party functions at cellar doors rather than growing and making uncompromisingly high quality wine, which ultimately means that a whole raft of visitors end up convinced that QLD makes no ‘fine wine’ (just rum and beer).
This Witches Falls Chardonnay however is sourced from outside the hinterland, with the grapes grown at the Misty River vineyard near Ballendean, high in the Granite Belt and processed back in the (relative warmth) of the Gold Coast hinterland.
Sourcing from the Granite Belt is not unusual for hinterland wineries, with big players like Sirromet having done so for years. What sets this wine apart is how
‘seriously’ made it is – hand-picked, wild fermented in old and new oak and then given plenty of battonage but no malolactic fermentation (to retain acidity), the resultant style a proper modern Australian Chardonnay in many ways.
It certainly smells modern too, the nose open, full and creamy with no shortage of oak and yeast richness, immediately worked but also quite balanced too. Long, peach-juice-with-a-dash-of-cream palate looks a fraction oak driven, though clearly with oak thoughtfulness in mind. Not heavy handed, just there.
This reminds me of a ripe Strathbogie Ranges Chardonnay actually, which is unsurprising perhaps given that both regions share granite soils and a bit of altitude. There’s more peach juice richness in this QLD wine compared to Victorian counterparts, but the impression remains and the rocky acidity a feature of both.
A modern, quite worked, but well made and sufficiently intense Chardonnay, this is sure to reset the regional expectations.
Score: 17.5/20 91/100
Would I recommend it? I’d drink a glass.