Xanadu Reserve Margaret River Chardonnay 2014
Xanadu’s run of great Chardonnay continues. This is superb modern Margaret River Chardonnay, of the type that makes people wax lyrical about Chardonnay from the region. There’s a depth of flavour, of sun-kissed green/yellow fruit, meeting whipped butter lees and oak in a long and textured package. The fruit looks perfectly ripe at 13% alcohol, and the oak influence spot on, even though it spent just 9 months in barrel. A light touch, but delivering maximum length of flavour. Ripe, yet taut, deep yet retains freshness. Oh yes. This is the pointy end of delicate but flavourful Chard. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $90. Would I buy it? The price is steep but so is the quality. Worth a bottle purchase.
Eldorado Road Beechworth Chardonnay 2015
While better known for their northern Vic reds, this Chardonnay shows the Eldorado Road team can craft smart white wines too. Fermented wild in French oak puncheons and a single barrique, this is a more overt and powerful style of Chardonnay, with caramel oak and rich figgy nutty flavours, almost tending brassy. Yet underneath this has a real acid clunk, which brings all that nutty flavour back into line nicely. Delicious big and bold style of some contrasts. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 18/20, 93/100. 13.3%, $35. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Even Keel Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2015
I’ve always thought that this label was reserved for non-Mornington fruit (but I was clearly wrong). This isn’t far behind Sam Coverdale’s high quality Polperro wines, either. Green straw coloured, this is a worked modern style of Mornington Chard with s nutty solids character on the nose complete with a golden nougat edge, matched by a palate that has breadth, at first, but tightens up into what is a carefully svelte finish. Clever, with a real modern swishness to the winemaking and a great balance between weight and acid freshness. Best drinking: 2017-2023. 18/20, 93/100. 13%, $35. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Tapanappa Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2015
This technically sits below both Tiers and the new 1.5x Chardonnay on the Tapanappa quality ladder, but this would comfortably beat many winery’s flagships. Style-wise this mirrors the Tiers in many ways, with the same white peach oak and lemon, though the palate is a fraction less precise. Did I mention the concentration of flavour here? It’s excellent. Brian always makes full-bodied Chardonnay and this packs in much of what you’d probably call classic Adelaide Hills Chard style. Delicious wine. Best drinking: 2017-2023. 18/20, 93/100. 13.5%, $39. Would I buy it? Definitely.
First Foot Forward Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2015
First Foot Forward is the brand of Martin Siebert, who has a day job as winemaker at Tokar Estate in the Yarra. For this label he’s using fruit from the Patch Vineyard which sits on the southern edge of the Yarra in the Dandenong Ranges, plus a few other fruit sources on occasion. This Chard is all Patch and Martin aims to ‘put a little more meat on the bone’ with some new oak, lees stirring and malo. While the oak is just a little dominant, giving an oatmeal and cashew edge, the linear and full palate has plenty to give, before a crisp finish. $25 Yarra Chardonnay is rarely this good, and it will look even better when the oak integrates. Best drinking: 2017-2023. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? For sure.
Attwoods Old Hog Geelong Chardonnay 2015
Attwoods is the label of my fellow Dookie alumni Troy Walsh, who besides entertaining me on campus has spent time working at a few Geelong wineries and vintages at Domaine de L’Arlot and Domaine Duband. This Chardonnay comes off a close planted vineyard in Geelong, the fruit early picked and wild fermented in barrel. Despite the low alcohol, this doesn’t lack any punch, with a lovely rich peach fruit leesy plumpness and even a little apricot. How he gets such flavour – and roundness – from early picked fruit I don’t know, but it’s good stuff. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.8%, $45. Would I buy it? I’d drink most of a bottle no probs.
Tapanappa Tiers 1.5m Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2015
The new entrant into the Tapanappa range sourced from a part of the Tiers Vineyard that was replanted in 2003 with much more close spacing. What I find really intriguing is how much lighter this is – it could be from a totally different vineyard than the ‘standard’ Tiers, and with an unexpected fine texture and almost milky delicacy. I did question whether this is perhaps a little light (in context), but you get the impression that this might be a wine that will take longer in bottle to match the rambunctious richness of the other Tapanappa Chardonnay releases. Best drinking: 2018-2024. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 13.7%, $55. Would I buy it? To be honest I’d prefer the Piccadilly Valley wine over this.
Xanadu Stevens Road Margaret River Chardonnay 2014
Could of fooled me that this has the same amount of new oak as the Reserve! It’s a much leaner and more restrained wine, with grapefruit the dominant character, and the style acid driven. Too held back? Love the vitality, even if it’s just a fraction too ‘international modern Chard’ (rather than Margs). Best drinking: 2017-2024. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $70. Would I buy it? I’d shell out the extra for the Reserve.
Fernand & Laurent Pillot Chassagne Montrachet Grandes Ruchottes 1er Cru 2011
I’ve had this twice in the last 12 months and both times I’ve come away wondering whether it will ever balance out. Milky and reductive, with surprising oak tannins, this has great length but the finish is rather harsh, and the acid sticks out, making it a less than fun drink. Will it get there? The length is superb (hence the score), which suggests yes. But for now, leave it in the cellar. Best drinking: 2019-2028? 17.5/20, 91/100+. $130. Would I buy it? Not quite now. Maybe later.
McWilliams Appellation Series Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2015
From the new McWilliams regional series. Delicate whipped lemon butter nose, it’s every bit the cool clime Chardonnay, the lemony palate softened by the kiss of what looks to be largely older, cashew oak before a natural acid finish. There’s a ripeness through the middle that drives this, even if it’s just a little tart to finish. Gives the authentic delicate Tumbarumba Chardonnay experience in a light, well priced entry level package. Best drinking: 2018-2022. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass.