2016 chardonnay medal winners
Michael Brajkovich MW, in his reflective comments as Chairman of Judges of the 2017 Royal Adelaide Wine Show, wrote of the divergence of style and quality in the 2016 chardonnays. He singles out the group of gold medal winners as being,
“Truly outstanding and indicative of the care that is being taken with this variety across many Australian regions.”
Within this group was the 2016 Flametree SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay (AUD $65), which also picked up a gold medal and two trophies at the 2017 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show. It is a highly complex chardonnay with considerable sulfide influence plus great intensity and line. The 2016 Penfolds Bin 16A Chardonnay (AUD $125) also collected a gold in both shows.
Alkoomi had a strong result with a gold for their affordable Black Label Chardonnay (AUD $24), as did Flying Fish Cove with their Wildberry Estate Reserve Chardonnay, not yet released. It was good to see the Pike and Joyce Sirocco Chardonnay (AUD $36) awarded a gold. Wines produced from this single vineyard Lenswood site are consistently impressive. Also from the Adelaide Hills is the gold-medal-winning 2016 Sidewood Mappinga Chardonnay, a wine new to me but one to watch for on release.
The 2016 Deep Woods Reserve Chardonnay, not yet released, is a wine of poise with gentle oak and excellent flavour. It picked up a gold in Adelaide and a silver in Sydney, as did the 2016 Devil’s Lair Dance With The Devil Chardonnay, a wine with presence and drive, representing good value at less than AUD $25. Although these wines did not receive the same medal at the two shows, the fact they were highly-awarded at both, judged a few months apart, indicates that there is quality to be found.
The Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay (AUD $20) received a gold medal in Adelaide and a strong bronze in Sydney. This difference is not altogether surprising as results of wine judging, involving human sensory assessment, will always have a degree of variability. Also, young wines can often look different with a few extra months in bottle.
In general, the wines from the west, along with South Australia, shone. That said, these states were also where the bulk of the entries came from. Parts of Victoria did have a warm year in 2016, which may have had an impact on the performance of some wines.
The crop of silvers was peppered with notable producers, some of which received a gold in Sydney. With much emphasis placed on gold and trophy winning wines, silvers can sometimes be overlooked. A high silver can often mean that it narrowly missed out on gold. And of course, bronze medal wines signify wines of solid quality.
For all results, visit the Royal Adelaide Wine Show website.