5 Chardonnays on Rotation
2021 Giant Steps Chardonnay, Yarra Valley VIC
12.5%, screwcap, RRP $40
A blend of five single vineyards in the Yarra: Sexton, Tarraford, Applejack, Primavera and Wombat Creek. Hand-picked, whole bunch pressed to 500L French puncheons (15% new), wild ferment on full solids, 10% MLF.
Much of the east experienced a cracking 2021 vintage (cool, long, even and with good yields. A vintage responsibly for wines of poise and presence, and abundant natural acid). This is absolutely no exception to that: the acidity courses through the very heart of this wine, punctuating the white stone fruit while being grounded by a stream of crushed nuts (almond meal, particularly) and brine. Gorgeous, refined, taut… a brilliant value wine from a classy producer in the Yarra.
2020 Picardy Chardonnay, Pemberton WA
13.5%, natural cork, RRP $42
Put together using a selection of Dijon clones, and overwhelmingly sophisticated. This is a wine that punches far above its pricepoint, and this year, shows a refinement that I find particularly irresistible. Salted peach, brine, preserved lemon, green apples and crushed nuts, there’s a handful of curry leaf, and wisp of Terre/cedar incense… the acidity is firm, but it is so entrenched in the folds of fruit that, like the princess and the pea, it is unavoidable, yet cushioned. One of my favourite chardonnays at the current time.
2020 Nocturne Treeton Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA
13.5%, screwcap, RRP $35
Hand picked, whole bunch pressed. Fruit gathered from three vineyards in Treeton (essentially on the eastern side of Bussel hwy, inland from Gracetown), and left unsulphured in a mix of new and 1yo barrels until November – then bottled. This is an epic wine, both for its inherent value for money ($35 chardonnay is verging on cheap in my book) and its salty, acidic profile. This is a wine of two parts: initially, upon opening, The acid is like the first lick of lemon before a tequila shot, kind of salivating and stressful at the same time, but 30 mins in the acid dives into the fruit and the thing comes into balance. So pay attention to both aspects, both have their merits. I bought a box (or two) of this after reviewing it last year, and it’s been great to watch it evolving over that time. I’m almost through the bottles now…
2020 Domaine Naturaliste Purus Chardonnay, Margaret River WA
13.5%, screwcap, RRP $50
This is the rarely released, Dijon clone sibling to the Gingin clone Artus, which is released each year. Where the Artus is rich, enveloping, and full (both in flavour and texture), this is a granitic, mineral, almost floral rendition. Made by the same hand and yet inherently different – sister from another mister, you might say – this is a thrilling wine, and another that I purchased after reviewing, I loved it so much. Of all the wines in this lineup, this is the one that holds its own line and poise the longest over the week. It is totally beautiful, and the first vintage made since the last 2014 wine (which, interestingly included some Gingin clone).
2020 Marco Lubiana Lucille Vineyard Chardonnay, TAS
13%, natural cork and wax, RRP $50
I first tried Marco’s wines (a pinot noir and a chardonnay) last vintage – 2019 – and was really impressed by their expressive natures. I loved them. So, I was thrilled to get another go at the 2020’s. The Lucille Vineyard was planted in 1973, certified Biodynamic and is in the Huon Valley. As with all the wines in this tasting, this was handpicked, wholebunch pressed to oak and here, low sulphur, bottled unfined. Made in tiny quantities, it is a complex, Burgundian in style (ok that’s an obtuse statement… I’ll explain) and super textural. What do I mean by ‘Burgundian’? It has savoury nuts and spice and a creamy texture, that underpins the white stone fruit and apples. There is butter menthol and granny smith apple skin, yellow grapefruit acid and plenty of exotic spice. In many ways, it has more angles/perspectives/prisms than the other wines, neither a better nor a worse thing, but an observation. A beautiful wine.