Chardonnay has had a bad reputation in recent years, with the grape tarnished by a trend for big, bold and aggressively oaked version of the wine which was sought after back in the 80s.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before demand for bigger, punchier and excessive Chardonnays reached its peak and wine lovers grew tired of feeling like they were chewing on a dirty wet log.
But good news – the grape is back, it’s been revamped and it’s better than ever! Is Australia to thank for that? We think so!
The Wine Pig has been banging on the Chardonnay drum for a while now, sometimes, its seems, to an empty audience. But what’s not to love about the crisp, elegant, modern style of this wine which we’re confident will take the world by storm.
Our love for all things Chardy starts in the cold climate Victorian region of Yarra Valley, where The Wine Pig offers a huge congratulations to our top five Chardonnays and their producers.
For the Chardonnay lover in all of us.
Clonakilla, Canberra District – 2014 Tumbarumba ChardonnayIt’s no secret that The Wine Pig has fully embraced its new and growing love for all things Chardonnay and Clonakilla now has raised the bar for Chardonnay producers Australia-wide. It has the classic cream and oak textures while also dishing some melon, pear and spice characters. Truly wonderful.
Coldstream Hills, Yarra Valley – 2011 Reserve ChardonnayThis fine and beautifully balanced Chardonnay by Coldstream Hills has the classic Yarra Valley notes of white peach and citrus, finished off with hints of French oak which add a little punchiness to an otherwise fresh and vibrant wine. It’s elegant, seamless and incredibly sophisticated.
MountAdam Vineyards, Eden Valley – 2013 High Eden Estate ChardonnayThis is a superb 2013 High Eden Chardonnay by Mount Adam Vineyards in Eden Valley, South Australia. An amazingly deep flavoured wine with fantastic body. Packed full of stonefruit notes with an additional hint of nuttyness. A wonderful elegant Chardonnay! Thank you Mount Adam!
Fox Gordon, Adelaide Hills – 2015 The Empress ChardonnayThe 2015 vintage of Fox Gordon’s ‘The Empress’ Chardonnay has lashings of the classic stonefruit and French oak but with the added perk of these classic flavours being complemented by delicious blood orange and toasted nut notes. It’s acidic, it’s oaky. It’s fresh and it’s creamy. In all, it’s seamlessly balanced and deliciously quaffable.
TarraWarra Estate, Yarra Valley – 2013 Reserve ChardonnayObviously, being in the Yarra Valley, you don’t have to go far before bumping into a delicious cold climate Chardonnay. Creamy, buttery and fantastically smooth, this Chardonnay mixes its hints of oak with beautiful stone fruit aromas leaving you wanting more and more with every sip.
De Salis, Orange – 2013 Lofty ChardonnayDe Salis's 2013 Lofty Range Chardonnay sits right at home in The Wine Pig's favorite Aussie Chardonnays. Located on the edge of Mt Canobolas in Orange, NSW, the cool climate helps create a perfect fullbodied wine. In keeping with the De Salis style, this Chardonnay is complex, rich and has great big flavour while at the same time managing to maintain the perfect balance. It truly needs to be tasted to be believed!
Punt Road Wines, Yarra Valley – 2014 Chemin ChardonnayThis is up there as one of our favorite Chardonnays from the region. A perfect example of a cold climate version of this beautiful wine. The Wine Pig just can’t get enough of the buttery, creamy texture which is perfectly balanced with some light acidity and a hint of zing.
Seppelt, Victoria – 2013 Jaluka ChardonnayAgain from the Yarra Valley, as one of the country’s most iconic producers, Seppelt certainly didn’t disappoint with this deliciously lively and fresh wine. It’s fruity and crisp without the sharp acidity sometimes found in other varietals, while keeping the creaminess of a traditional Chardonnay on the lower end. You are guaranteed to impress your friends with a bottle or several of this over the weekend.
Grant Burge, Barossa Valley – 2012 Summers ChardonnayMeanwhile, this Chardonnay is a little different. Although based in the warmer climate of Barossa Valley, the grapes are actually collected from Grant Burge’s cool climate Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley vineyards. Grant Burge has actually created a very soft and naturally acidic Chardonnay wine which could even rival the Yarra Valley! This is definitely a winner for the dinner table.
Evans & Tate, Margaret River – 2015 Butterball ChardonnayThe Wine Pig tops of this list with a Chardonnay for fans who yearn for more of the qualities in the old days – its packed full of extremely rich, butter flavours with a touch of stonefruit and melon characters all encased in a smooth, luscious wine. It leave you yearning for more!
Just north-east of Melbourne, Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s most well-known cold-climate wine regions. Famous for it’s Chardonnay, sparkling wine and Pinot Noir, its proximity means many high profile wineries have made it an important destination for Aussie wine lovers.
So The Wine Pig (and a couple of willing fellow wine lovers) scheduled in a day visit to some of the many cellar doors the Yarra Valley wine region to find out more about what the area has to offer.
Here were our highlights.
TarraWarra Estate is at the heart of the Yarra Valley, just an hour from Melbourne. The modern and architect-designed cellar door overlooks the heritage block of Pinot Noir vines and over the valley. Do a tasting then make sure you grab a glass of your favorite and sit out on the big bean bags on the lawn and enjoy the view. Picturesque and beautiful!
2015 Pinot Noir Rose: A very light and elegant Pinot Noir Rose with punches of fresh strawberry mixed in with some fresh acidity and a tight handle on any sweetness which is sometimes overwhelming. A perfect warm weather wine to tickle your palate.
2013 Reserve Chardonnay: Obviously, being in the Yarra Valley, you don’t have to go far before bumping into a delicious Chardonnay. Creamy, buttery and fantastically smooth, this Chardonnay mixes its hints of oak with beautiful stone fruit aromas.
PUNT ROAD WINERY
This Yarra Valley winery was named after the famous Melbourne inner city thoroughfare that joins the northern suburbs to the south. Today, the cute and homely cellar door sits in a charming garden setting with the opportunity to buy a bottle and sit back and cook a BBQ on the grounds. Like a big warm hug, you could easily go back time and time again and never get tired of visiting and tasting.
2011 sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay: It’s so appropriate to come across an excellent sparkling wine in such a beautiful setting. Punt Road’s Pinot Noir Chardonnay sparkling is wonderfully elegant with delicate tiny beads which give a fresh zesty finish. A perfect celebration wine.
2014 Chemin Chardonnay: This is up there as one of our favorite Chardonnays from the region. A perfect example of a cold climate version of a beautiful wine. The Wine Pig just can’t get enough of the buttery, creamy texture which is perfectly balanced with some light acidity and a hint of zing.
The winery is in the middle of its rebranding from Train Trak to Zonzo Estate, and while the new crops are yet to come to fruition, The Wine Pig was lucky enough to pop along in time to sample the best of the rest. The cellar door is currently in a large barn, sitting opposite the very popular Zonzo Estate restaurant and looking out over the valley hills. A fantastic spot to grab some great wine and refuel with some lunch before continuing on your wine journey!
Train Trak 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon: A standout from the soon-to-be halted Train Trak range. The medium-bodied wine is very deep crimson in colour and is packed full to the brim with deep juicy berry flavours which are balanced on an elegant and silky finish with fine grained tannins. It is exceptional and we’re excited to see, and taste, how Zonzo Estate’s new offerings compare.