Chardonnay Charisma

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Chardonnay is one of my favourite white wines, and regular readers know that I’m a big enthusiast for Australian chardonnays – which have improved at a Mitchell Johnson-like pace in recent years.

My latest tasting which I did in January has a stack of lovely chardies, including Hardy’s Eileen (tasting), Vasse Felix Heytesbury (tasting) and the regular bottling (one of the greatest bargains in the land at $29!) from 2012 (tasting), Voyager Estate (tasting), Bay of Fires (tasting), Freycinet (tasting), Armchair Critic (tasting), Kooyong (tasting), Xanadu (tasting), Lethbridge (tasting), Ten Minutes by Tractor (tasting), Howard Park’s new Allingham (tasting), and several fine new 2011 releases from Toolangi (tastings). Two discovery wines from WA are Singlefile (tasting) and Staniford (tasting). Preveli from Margaret River (tasting) is a top buy at $24, and the new Kiss Me Kate chardonnay (tasting) from Shingleback in McLaren Vale is great value at $18.

For some time, our cousins across the Tasman Sea have been playing catch-up with chardonnay, and while Kumeu River’s individual vineyard wines (tastings), Neudorf’s Moutere (tasting) and Te Mata Estate’s Elston (tasting) have long been beacons, it’s been puzzling that New Zealand hasn’t produced more great chardonnays, considering its favourable climates. As I found in the latest tastings, there are more and more rippers across the ditch. Witness Neudorf’s newest Moutere and Nelson (tasting) bottlings, Greywacke (tasting), Felton Road Bannockburn (tasting), Dry River (tasting) and Church Road Grand Reserve (tasting) are right ‘up there’. Ignore them at your loss.

A final chardonnay observation. It’s a tantalizing indication of things to come, when wineries such as Kooyong and Ten Minutes by Tractor release their lower-priced Clonale and 10X chardonnays respectively from the great 2012 harvest, while the 2011 vintage is current for their single-vineyard wines. With such stunning quality in the cheaper ‘012 wines, I can hardly wait to see what’s in store for us from their top labels when they finally hit the shops.

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