Balgownie aren’t classically known for their Chardonnay, but the classically full-flavoured style of the Balgownie Chard has won plenty of friends over the years.
On that point, I’m still amazed at the disconnect that exists in Chardonnay land between what consumers ask for and what winemakers want to make. There is a sustained demand for rich, full bodied ‘butttery’ Chardonnay that remains somewhat ignored, leaving wineries like Scarborough as one of the few servicing that end of the Chard market.
An opportunity methinks…
Balgownie Black Label Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2014
The Black Label range is effectively the entry point for the Balgownie range, but some of the wines (like the Sangiovese) are more than just ‘second’ wines. I’m less convinced by this Chardonnay, but there is still goodness in the Black Label range. My gripe with this wine is purely down to the oak treatment, with the barrel ferment and 10 months in oak giving this a raw, oakiness that you just can’t quite get past. There is clearly high quality white nectarine fruit underneath, but the intrusion of oak tannins derails what is otherwise a taut and perfectly ripe Chardonnay. I think that time will be kind, and there is quality at every corner, if just a little hobbled by heavy-handed oak. Best drinking: 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Balgownie Estate White Label Bendigo Chardonnay 2013
The original Balgownie Chardonnay and very much that classic, broad-shouldered, powerfully built, fully ‘oaked’ Chard style. It carries it off too, until you get to the slightly hot and heavy finish which weighs everything down. Still, when served well chilled this gives a very solid hit of full-tilt Chardonnay pleasure. Best drinking: 2016-2018. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? A glass or so would do.
Balgownie Estate White Label Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2014
Interesting how different this is to the Black Label Chardonnay. I suspect that this went through malo, at least partially, while the Black Label diddn’t (though I could be wrong. Often am), with the MLF character giving this a bit more complexity. This ‘Estate’ wines has a worked, oak-and-lees-forward nose, backed by a sour peach and a little nougat. There’s still a little oak tannin, but the layers of flavour help bulk this up, making for a quite modern, if classically powerful, Yarra Chardonnay, with a long finish. Quality worked style indeed. Best drinking: 2016-2021. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $45. Would I buy it? I’d go a few glasses.