Chardonnay. Chardonnay and Riesling. Maybe some Semillon. That’s a local hierarchy of white grapes I’m happy with.
There is quite a Chardonnay flavour on Australian Wine Review this week, too, with the Hawke’s Bay foray and the typically excellent Oakridge Willowlake.
The Oakridge Vineyard Series Henk Chardonnay 2020 is another smart wine to add to the list.
Although maybe don’t drink it yet, it’s way too young and embryonic. This is fancy, intellectual white wine for drinking next year, or maybe the year after. The tightest of the 2020 Oakridge Vineyard Series, there is stil plenty of grapefruit and green fruit, with some figgy golden highlights and some reduction over the taut, melon and green banana plate. Wonderfully finessed, and not unripe, I like it, but for the future.
Best drinking: see above. 18/20, 93/100+. 12.7%, $45. Would I buy it? Yeah, but not drink it yet.
By contrast, the Rockliff Nautica Chardonnay 2019 steps up the ripeness and volume without dipping into excess.
Masterful winemaking here. White peach meets quality buttercup oak in a mid-weight mode that the Great Southern does well. The oak gives spice, the fruit feels ‘enough’, and it all works nicely. The acidity is just a smidgen raw (which knocks it off a gold), but that should resolve too within a year or so. Good.
Best drinking: good now, better in a year or so. 18/20, 93/100. 13%, $100. Would I buy it? The price is a bit aspirational for me to buy. But I’d drink a glass.
Crittenden Zumma Chardonnay 2020
The Pinot Noir was excellent, and this is complex Mornington Chardonnay, even if it’s a little too worked. Lots of reductive funk, and some caramel leesy notes over a palate that is ultimately too lean. There is quality here, and so much going on, but half a baume would be very welcome.
Best drinking: good now, it may get better over the next five too. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $57. Would I buy it? A glass is enough.
Deep Down Chardonnay 2021
I also liked the Deep Down Pinot (and the Arneis), although this Chardonnay goes a smidgen too far. Custard, horsehair, lemon, straw and melon, the nose and palate heavy with leesy, cheesy oxidative wildness at the edges. A huge mouthful, all ripe and chunky fruit, very much a low acid style with skin contact adding complexity, too, although it all ends up a bit too cheesy and broad at the finish. Interesting, even if I wish it was a little tighter, as this has layers for days.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $60. Would I buy it? A glass.
Mayfield Vineyard Chardonnay 2021
The Mayfield range has had a makeover and definitely more polish in the wines. This Orange Chardonnay promises much – white nectarine and lemon burst onto the nose. But it’s less ripe than the initial flurry suggests. Indeed it’s a pretty shy wine – hessian, lemon citrus, gently toastiness, then a slightly raw but fresh finish. I kept looking for more flavour, but it didn’t deliver.
Best drinking: later, I guess. 17/20, 90/100+. 12.6%, $34. Would I buy it? A glass.
Apricus Hill Chardonnay 2021
This vintage of the Apricus Chardonnay looks broader and less nuanced than usual. Generous, almost to the point of candied, lemon cream nose with some sunny blossoms too. The palate, too, It’s all about fruit, plump stonefruit flavours. It’s an obvious wine and the edges feel too sweet. Pleasant drink, though, and sneaks in for the silver on the flavour volume (which is going to win admirers).
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
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