Chardonnay cavalcade

The 2017 Yarra Yering Chardonnay was the equal top wine of Huon Hooke’s recent chardonnay tasting. (Photo: Yarra Yering Wines)

From my latest chardonnay tasting – of more than 100 mostly Australian wines – it’s obvious the 2017 vintage has been a big success. While many regions suffered reduced crops, quality was high. The other vintage under the spotlight, 2016, has also yielded many superb chardonnays despite it being one of the warmer recent seasons in the eastern states.

Top wines were Yarra Yering and Suckfizzle – both scoring 97 points. I notice the Suckfizzle, which I wrote about a few weeks back, topped last week’s Margaret River Wine Show* with 97 points, which makes total sense to me.

Four wines scored 96 points: By Farr, Santolin Gladysdale, Windows Estate Petit Lot, and Flametree SRS Wallcliffe, all 2017s except the Windows was 2016. The Farr is gloriously rich and multi-faceted, the Santolin has wonderful palate tension, and the Flametree has smoky sulfides allied with powerful citrus fruit.

Then came five wines on 95 points (still gold-ribbon scores): Oakridge 864 Funder & Diamond Drive Block 2016, which is still tight and reserved and needs more time; Tarrawarra Reserve 2016, which is rich and full and loaded with classic chardonnay complexity and generosity; and a trio of 2017s – Oakridge Willowlake Vineyard, Grosset Piccadilly and Tapanappa Tiers. I’ve noted before what great value the Oakridge single vineyard wines are at AUD $38, never far in quality behind the 864s, which are AUD $85.

Just whisker away on 94 points were Montalto Tuerong Block and Coates The Reserve, both 2016s, and Meadowbank, Cherubino Gingin Wilyabrup, Sittella Reserve Wilyabrup, Tokar Estate and Tertini Tasmania, all 2017s.

A few words about that last one.

Tertini is located in the NSW Southern Highlands just south of Sydney, but winemaker Jonathan Holgate has cast his net over Tasmania in the 2017 vintage and made some fascinating wines, an AUD $40 riesling and an AUD $60 pinot noir as well as this crisp, layered, creamy and smoky chardonnay, also AUD $60.

Holgate tells me,

“We’ve started producing these wines because of (owner) Julian Tertini’s connection with Tasmania, and we’re half-way through a vineyard development in the Coal River Valley.

“Julian wanted a wholly Tasmanian produced product. No trucking fruit, juice or wine back to the mainland. Since he immigrated to Hobart (from Italy) in the 1960s he has always wanted to invest and give back to the state.”

Cheers to that. The wines are an awesome debut.

Tertini, by the way, was co-founder and managing director of Freedom Furniture and more recently MD and part-owner of Fantastic Furniture.

*ALDI’s AUD $15 Blackstone Paddock Margaret River Chardonnay 2017, which I raved about a fortnight ago, was one point off another gold medal at the Margaret River show: 94 points and a silver medal. Pretty consistent.

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