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Australia’s Third Wave of Chardonay

The rapid trends that sweep the highly active and versatile Australian wine scene can be hard to keep up with. We can talk natural wines, whole bunch and Pet Nat sparkling’s with the very best, but one such trend that’s now really found its feet is that of earlier picking. In particular Chardonnay, that once massively oaked, darkly yellow hued drop, that made our wines famous the world over. With the move 8 or so years ago to finer, leaner styles many commentators believed they lacked a little and whilst far superior to the oaked monsters of past they just weren’t Australian enough.

Since the decidedly dodgy 2011 vintage (for many) a succession of riper vintages have allowed a great new expression of Chardy.  With higher acid, better and/or less oak and a range of malolactic fermentation proportions, regional and winemaker influence are once again at the core of some very special wines. These wines are just perfect for mid-term cellaring.

Jancis Robinson in the London Financial Times even wrote, “Such progress has been made that I am now looking for serious alternatives to fine white burgundy in the cooler reaches of Australia’. Couldn’t agree more, here are a couple of our recommendations for the cellar.

2015 Luke Lambert Chardonnay – Yarra Valley

The latest release from Luke is back on form; we loved the 2013 but were a bit disappointed by the 14 with its lack of body (and overly early release). 2015 however is a cracker, tight lean with a leesy complexity from stirring. It’s still shy with a little lemon rind on the nose, chalky in the mouth. This is going to be a belter in another 3 to 6 years.


2012 Voyager Estate Chardonnay – Margaret River

Rarely a poor vintage of this wine, in blind tastings up against some serious Grand Cru Burgundies it always scores well, and the 2012 is right up there. The latest clones picked early at low Beaume produce proper ripe Chardonnay flavour without the resulting alcohol, balanced with wild ferment interest and 50% Malo round out this powerful and classey Margs Chardy. Drink now to 2022.

2012 Yabby Lake Single Block release – Block 1 – Mornington Peninsula

The smaller berried Mendoza clone, otherwise known as Gin Gin is planted exclusively in Block 1 and this contributes to the intensity of this wine. Pressed into French puncheons, with a wild fermentation adding a flinty, mineral texture that lifts the zesty lemon and peach notes. Drink to 2020.

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