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A Tale Of Two Wines: One Glorious, One Gloriously F****d.

April 1st, 2020

I feel passionately about wine storage.  You might think it a boring topic, but in my opinion, wine is no good if you do not have anywhere decent to store it.  In fact, it is a waste of money.  Drink it now.  Perth is too warm for it to survive a year in a sun-drenched kitchen, or a laundry (with a washer and or dryer) or anywhere else in the house – let alone any longer than that.  It is the undulation in temperature, the change that does it.  You may feel differently, you may have had a different experience to me.  But from where I stand, this is the truth.

I have been drinking wine made by the Pannell family of Picardy (Pemberton) for about as long as I have been working in the wine industry.  I love them.  I have quite a bit of it stashed away and enjoy pulling them out to see how they are going.  Every once in a while, I find a bottle where it should not be.  In this case, I found a bottle of the 2011 Picardy Chardonnay in my husband’s recording studio* (yes, I put it there, at some point, for some reason that I no longer remember).  It is now tragically, utterly f****d.  The undulation in temperature over time has destroyed it.  It has taught me a very good lesson (like I needed another one) about wine storage in Perth.  That is to say:  if it is not in a temperature-controlled area, it’s not safe.

Looking at the bottle from the studio, I thought to myself ‘I’ll dig out another bottle from the fridge and see how different they are’. And ohhoh boy they’re different.  The ‘studio wine’ is an amber colour in the bottle.  Through the green glass.  I don’t need to open it to know how ruined it is.  The fridge wine I opened.  It’s in perfect condition.  It’s actually such a good bottle, that it has prompted a revelation for me about Picardy Chardonnay:  Leave Them.  Don’t Drink Them Until They’re At Least 5 Years Old.  9 or 10 If You Can Help It.

Picardy Chardonnay, Pemberton, 2011 (the fridge one)

There is a lot to say technically about this wine, but the most important thrust of this experience is: the wine is in excellent condition.  Perfect.  It has aged gracefully and slowly and has come to a point in its evolution where I can honestly say, ‘this is the best time to drink it’.  It is teetering on the brink of development, the fruit is still singing its primary song (yellow peach, salted lemon, nectarine and red apple) but it has revealed all of its layered spices now, too.  It has thrown off the exuberance of youth and gained authority.  Interestingly, it no longer sits up at the front of the palate.  It is a little party at the front, but this is mainly all business and it is all in the back, baby.  The wine enters restrained and controlled, but from there it plumes out over the back of the palate, building as it goes.  It is long and spicy and complex.  The beauty of it is accentuated by the acidity, which is a refreshing saline edge laced right the way through the fruit and spice.  If you have any Picardy Chardonnay nestled into the corners of your cellar or fridge, do yourself a favour and open it.  Get out the good glassware.  Have a nice time.  It’s not like you’re going anywhere tomorrow.


PS:  If you want to buy some of this wine, current vintage sorry, the wine is available via the Picardy winery website.  Cellar door pricing and free postage on all WA orders.