Old and New World chardonnay lines blur
Spoilt brats like me who taste a lot of wine tend to take it for granted that others are aware of the same developments. It can be surprising to us, then, to realise that many of our non-wine-nerd friends are amazed that Australian wines can be as good as the best of the Old World. Not only as good as, but sometimes indistinguishable.
Two things happened recently to remind me of this with reference to chardonnay.
Scene 1: Restaurant Hubert, dinner with winemaker Peter Dawson, who with his old mate from Hardy’s days Tim James makes the Dawson & James Tasmanian wines (tastings). We had just drunk a 2014 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin 1er cru Les Perrières. I’ve written about this producer recently so will say no more except that the wine is superb, and has a notable struck-flint smokiness about it. Dawson then produced from his bag a bottle of his 2013 Dawson & James Chardonnay (AUD $50), which we surreptitiously tasted. It was of the same quality level and more than that, it had a similar smoky struck-flint note. A very exciting wine. (I was reminded that I’d awarded it the Chairman’s Trophy at the Tasmanian Wine Show in 2015)
Scene 2: the monthly tasting/dinner of the Second Tuesday Club, a private tasting group of which I’m a member. We tasted three flights of five 2014 vintage chardonnays, each flight containing four white Burgundies (100% chardonnay) and one ring-in. In two flights, the ring-in was a Californian – both very disappointing. The interloper in bracket 3 was 2014 Oakridge 864 Drive Block Funder & Diamond Vineyard (AUD $80), from the Yarra Valley.
This was a sublime bracket, a chardomaniac’s feast. François Carillon Puligny-Montrachet (a AUD $60 village wine but as good as many premier crus), Domaine de la Vougeraie Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Champ Gain (AUD $195, rich, full-bodied, powerful and multi-layered), Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot Fairendes (AUD $198; toasted nutty, again rich and complex), and Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey (there’s that name again) Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot Les Fairendes (reductive and very complex, poised, precise and very long with spine-tingling acidity). I rated the Oakridge and Colin-Morey equal at 19+/20, not bothering to finesse the numbers too much, so intent was I on enjoying the moment.
Several at the table were surprised at how well the Oakridge fared in such hallowed company.
That the Oakridge 864 is a great wine is not news to readers of this page. I’ve tasted it several times, recorded notes on it twice, and written about an 864 back-tasting that occurred last September. My note recorded then finishes,
“A smashing chardonnay to match a top premier or even grand cru Burgundy”.