It’s true that I drink more white wine in summer. But that doesn’t mean I abandon the fair maidens during colder months. The often written “glass of rich red in front of a roaring fire” is fine, but I can equally enjoy a good glass of white in front of a fire.
Here are nine chardonnays from five regions and three vintages. Apart from good Chablis I’m not a great fan of chardonnay without the correct amount of oak influence. The Tom Smart (Pickwick Papers, 1837) saying, “never say never”, came to mind on tasting the Conte Estate chardonnay. Wow. It was the first Australian unoaked chardonnay that for me hit all the right points. This doesn’t make it a Chablis clone. It makes it its own wine, fair and square, a fair damsel with a core of steel.
Tumbarumba continues its advances as a quality wine-producing region. It has long been recognised within the wine industry as a grape-growing region, with its produce going into many great wines. But it needs greater recognition among consumers. This could be hard, as it’s not exactly tourist country.
Enough of the chatter; to the wines.
Conte Estate ‘Primrose Lane’ McLaren Vale Unwooded Chardonnay 2016: This may lack oak, but it has a gorgeous, fresh, lively nose. It’s also fresh and alive as it sails across the palate. The absence of oak in this case lets mineral characters shine, and this wine shines clear and bright. It’s a remarkable wine. 94 points and great value at just $20.
Curtis ‘Heritage’ McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2016: Ripe and fruity would sum it up. It’s a wine of plumper dimensions. 90 points. (No price.)
Moppity Vineyards Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2016: Classic chardonnay nose, tight structure in the mouth, white peach (not yet fully ripe) character showing midway, and a smooth cruise to finish. 93 points and $35 is the pointy end of the wine price spectrum.
Allegiance ‘The Matron’ Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2016: Chardonnay, yes, and balanced, giving enough but no more,. It’s just not ringing bells. 91 points and there’s a lot of wine around at $25.
Mornington Estate Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2016: It’s full of flavour but in no way plump or fat. An easy journey and gives enough on the return to raise the drinker’s interest. 93 points and worth $25.
Dromana Estate Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2013: Light on the nose and light on entry, but comes alive on the journey, with age allowing the depth to come through. Its flavours stretch outwards, wrapping the palate. A touch hot on the finish but all in all a good wine. 94 points and worth $35.
Thistledown ‘Two Roads’ Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016: Good chardonnay nose and a wonderful array of flavours slowly unwind on the journey. Pick a classic chardonnay descriptor and it will appear somewhere on the palate. The flavours are slight at times, more pronounced at others. A good, long finish, 95 points and a top price but worth it at $45.
Mr Riggs ‘Cold Chalk’ Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015: Good, clean, defined nose. Strong flavoured wine but attractive enough. 93 points and an OK price at $30.
Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Chardonnay 2016: Light on the nose and light on the palate, but it skips along, leaving pleasure in its wake, so no complaints. 92 points and good value at $20.