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Chardonnay

Purple Hen is a name to seek out, if my latest tastings are any guide. This is a small, new producer on Phillip Island, not far from the Mornington Peninsula.

Their chardonnay (tasting) was one of my top wines in this tasting, and their viognier will be one of next month’s top whites. I was gobsmacked, thunderstruck, and puzzled that I knew nothing about this place, with its quirky poultry label. But a phone call to the owner Rick Lacey revealed all: the winemaker for last couple of years has been Pip Farr, daughter of Gary and Robyn of By Farr (tastings) at Geelong, and sister of Nick, the current By Farr winemaker. No wonder that viognier has such a family resemblance! The chardonnay too. Pip also makes her own excellent pinot noir down there, which sells under the Philippa Farr label (tastings).

The other winemaker to star in my latest tasting of 120 chardonnays is Dylan McMahon of Seville Estate, whose regular estate chardonnay (tasting) is a blinder, as is his Reserve (tasting), and his cheapie The Barber (tasting) is good in its league. The wine he makes with his mate Matt Burton of Gundog Estate, Burton McMahon (tastings), is also excellent. The 2013 Seville Estate wine though, for $36, is a truly great buy. A thoroughly beautiful wine in an understated style.

Other great chardonnays this month came from the usual suspects, Cullen Kevin John (tasting), Leeuwin Estate Art Series (tasting), McHenry Hohnen (tastings), Fraser Gallop Parterre (tasting)… indeed Western Australia shone particularly brightly, especially with the 2013 vintage. Singlefile (tasting), Rockcliffe (tasting), and Larry Cherubino’s pair of top chardies from Pemberton (tasting) and Margaret River (tasting) also starred. And Robert Oatley’s 2013 Finisterre (tasting) is the best Mudgee chardonnay I’ve seen for ages. Great that they are still doing that: Mudgee needs a boost.

I’ve also tasted a range of William Fèvre Chablis (tastings) and some Bouchard Père et Fils white Burgundies (tastings), including the Corton-Charlemagne (tasting). On the value front, the new Mawson’s from Yalumba (tasting), Wickham’s Road (tasting) and Mainbreak (tasting) chardies are on the money, under $20. 

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