For the love of chardonnay

Chardonnay in glass (Photo:

Chardonnay, chardonnay. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.*

Oh yes, I have a weakness for world’s greatest white wine grape. Indeed, I challenge Jancis Robinson, who is on record as saying riesling is the greatest.

My latest chardonnay tasting of 118 wines yielded 17 wines scoring gold-ribbon or above; another 19 scoring 93 to 94 points. Nearly half the tasting – 57 wines – scored silver ribbon (90 points) or above.

As I tweeted on the day, and apologies for the repetition, the 2016 Vasse Felix Heytesbury, 2016 Flametree SRS and 2015 Oakridge 864 were an extraordinary trio at the apex. But hot on their heels were Cape Mentelle 2016, Dexter 2016, Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard 2016, By Farr Three Oaks Vineyard 2016 and the regular Vasse Felix’s Margaret River 2016 Chardonnay at AUD $39.

This is a great wine at a moderate price, as are the Dexter at AUD $40 and Cape Mentelle at AUD $45, and there were several others. Amen Break Quarry Ridge Vineyard 2015, which won a trophy at this year’s Sydney Royal Wine Show, scored a gold-ribbon from me and it’s selling for just AUD $25. The winemaker is Matt Harrop.

Steve Flamsteed’s Salo 2016 is just AUD $40. And there’s more. Montalto Pennon Hill 2016 scored 93 and is just AUD $28. Montalto’s wines are all-round superb, but its cheaper labels (of chardonnay and pinot) are hard to match.

Disregarding price, other top wines were Tyrrell’s Vat 47 2013, Stella Bella Serie Luminosa 2014, Howard Park Allingham 2016, and McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard 2016.

Also scoring strongly, if not at the absolute pinnacle, were a bevy of lovely 2015 Chablis from the renowned Jean Dauvissat Père et Fils. There were four premier crus plus the 2015 village Chablis. The Fourchaume was my favourite, followed by Côte de Lechet, Montmains and Vaillons in that order, with the standard Chablis also showing quite well in its station, although at AUD $45, it was beaten by many Australian wines for value.

The best Kiwi wine was the powerhouse Neudorf Moutere 2016, a regular show-stopper, while Bilancia 2014 was good in a strongly funky style.

*Not William Shakespeare, but Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43 (1850).

One thought on “For the love of chardonnay”

  1. Thomas Rich says:

    Nice article, thank you. Am also a lover of Chardonnay and rediscovering Australian Chardonnay after returning from 9 years overseas. I am in a quandary though – why is white Burgundy almost solely represented here by Chablis?… and the lovely Meursault, Pulligny and Chassagne Montrachet appellations relatively scarce and rarely publicized? It also seems the new cool climate Australian cmchardonnays are very much in a Chablis mound so am intreagued by the coincidence. Thanks

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