A self explanatory title, here are 12 of the best 12 Chardonnay to pass the desk in July 2018.
If anything, this list just highlights the high standard of Chardonnay in Australia. Still our most planted white grape, the modern shades of Chard – with carefully handled oak and acidity – are just delightful drinks.
It’s a good time to be a Chardonnay fan…
Bird on a Wire Chardonnay 2015
Absolute class here from Caroline Mooney, again. Sourced from the Upper Yarra, 25% of the blend went through malolactic fermentation and the wines matured in 25% new oak. Detail is the name of the game, with a hint of gumball reduction on a carefully coiffed, precisely made palate. The carefully handled malo means an acid shape that is more sharper grapefruit, but offset by layers of richness and perfectly ripe furit. It’s fresh yet the winemaking gives complexity and the snappy finish adds even more. So much to admire here – precision winemaking. Best drinking: Now to ten years easy. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.1%, $40. Would I buy it? Yes.
Eldorado Road Beechworth Chardonnay 2016
While the Eldorado Road team are better known for their reds, this Chardonnay is a consistent highlight that I somehow missed. Partial wild ferment, there’s a lovely concentrated peach juice middle, then soft acidity. Robust, but there’s this line of lemon grapefruit acidity to pull it back, with that ’16 vintage fullness, a little popcorn oak and then a finish that is just fresh enough. The combined effect is exactly what you want in Beechworth Chardonnay – there’s that concentrated peach and nougat edged, biscuity richness, and while it threatens to get fat, the finish contains everything perfectly. Enjoyable drink (but it might well be sold out now, bugger). Best drinking: Now to 8 years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.2%, $37. Would I buy it? Yes.
Hardy’s HRB D668 Chardonnay 2016
I often find that my favourite Hardy’s wines are Chardonnay, with a whole suite of forgotten gems in the portfolio (like the Yarra Burn Bastard Hill). Smart wine this HRB, and even after 3 days in the fridge it was still in rude health. A blend of Pemberton, Margaret River and Yarra Valley fruit. Milky peach nose seems very worked at first glance, but underneath it’s finely balanced, with a leesy and carefully polished palate and crisp acidity . Such a finessed, mid-weight modern style. No hairs out of place save for a little oak tannins. Is it a little too coiffed? I enjoyed it, regardless. Best drinking: Now to ten years. 18.5/20, 94/10. 13%, $35ish. Would I buy it? Yes.
Attwoods Old Hog Chardonnay 2016
The caveat here is that Troy Walsh is an old friend and uni mate so I’m probably biased. But even then, this is my favourite of his current releases and not difficult to see the quality. This Chardonnay comes from early picked Geelong fruit that is handpicked, whole-bunch pressed and fermented wild in barrel. A rich and full style in that ’16 Victorian mode, there’s this waxy textural width here that is just a delight – it reminds me a little of the Irrewarra Chardonnay actually, which makes sense given proximity and style. Lovely generous Chardonnay with complexity and weight. Best drinking: Now to to seven years. 18/20, 93/100. 13%, $40. Would I buy it? Sure would.
The Vinden Headcase Single Barrel Chardonnay 2017
Clever super premium Hunter Chardonnay from Angus Vinden. From the Somerville Vineyard in Broke. Barrel fermented, 10 months in French oak. A peachy and quite voluptuous style, with peach juice, a vanilla lacquer and then crisp acidity. A lovely old school Hunter style with a lovely late lemon banana lilt, but with modern, grapefruity malic acid finish. Easy appeal here in an old school style that’s had an update. Best drinking: Now to 10 years easy. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $50. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
First Food Forward The Patch Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
Such great value propositions these First Foot Forward wine. This new release is every bit the cool and sophisticated ’17 Yarra wine too. A push pull of generosity and tight grapefruit flavours, with an estery nose of grapefruit fruit that comes up against some cashew oak, the palate initially quite tight and lean but it fills out with some late breaking banana oak richness to combat the crystalline citrus acidity. It’s a fraction bracing for now, but a quality shapely Chardonnay for the future. Best drinking: Wait a year and then to eight years. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 13.5%, $28. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Lyons Will Chardonnay 2015
Golden, nutty and full tilt Macedon Chardonnay with old school butterscotch and caramel. Worked and just a bit heavy with oxidative nutty edges and then a broad palate. Lots of flavour here – layers of grilled nuts, caramel and citrus. But ultimately a bigt forward and fat for real big marks. Best drinking: Now to six years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $40. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Montalto Pennon Hill Chardonnay 2016
Multi-clone release from all three of Montalto’s Mornington vineyard sites. Whole-bunch-pressed with plenty of solids to barrel. Wild fermented and matured in 30% new oak with full malo. Melon fruit in the riper end of the spectrum, though it’s not overdone in any way. Softly banana edged, with gentle flavours and just a background oak nod. Acid is soft, flavours are generous. Enjoyable, easy and quite round Chardonnay. Good value (GV). 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.2%, $28CD. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Sunshine Creek Chardonnay 2015
A Yarra Valley Chardonnay that thrusts forward with firm barrel characters first and foremost. Underneath it’s actually a refined style, but no escaping the omnipresent oak vanilla, complete with oak tannins to finish. Plenty of flavour nonetheless and some ripe nectarine fruit too. Less oak and this would be a better wine. Best drinking: Now to 8 years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $45. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Harewood Estate Chardonnay 2016
From Denmark in WA, it’s a frisky and fresh, citrus-shaped wine with a barest kiss of butterscotch oak and then taut grapefruit acidity before a late dip of alcohol warmth. I feel like this is missing a flash of richness on the palate but still it’s vital and fresh enough to be drinkable. Best drinking: Now to five years. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $28. Would I buy it? A glass.
Rymill Dark Horse Coonawarra Chardonnay 2016
Cooonawarra Chardonnay isn’t something I normally like but this is pretty good. A layer of creamed marzipan butter over the top here along with a dip of banana. Full palate with milky oak and ripe white peach fruit, the finish showing its lack of MLF with a slightly tart citrus edge. A pretty simple peachy wine, but fresh and has a vibrancy that is quite unexpected – it feels like real wine. Best drinking: Now to five years. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $23. Would I buy it? A glass.
Vinden Estate Chardonnay 2017
Lovely ripe peach and nectarine in a sunny and juicy style. The oak a layer of cream to fill out the edges. Plump and plays it’s old school Hunter Valley charm nicely – a real sunny Chard, yet the malo is restricted and the finish is fresh. It’s a bit chubbier than I really like buy certainly plenty of appeal. Best drinking: Now to five years. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.