Julia Harding (Jancisrobinson.com) "Intense and mixed fruit aromas: apple, melon, pear and stone fruit. No oak flavour but the firm and gently creamy texture and light spice suggests this has had some old oak influence. (I found out later that it was fermented in older oak with indigenous yeasts and only 10% went through malo.) Well-balanced acidity, giving a serious Chardonnay with impressive range of flavours and length for the price. Not quite as edgy as some De Martino wines, but deep and persistent with quite a savoury, lees finish. Good Value"
James Suckling "There’s a fresh and lively feel to this rich and layered chardonnay that offers plenty of peach flavour and some mango, too. All delivered in a quite assertive, structured and punchy, taut mode. Drink now."
Winemaker "The 2018 vintage has produced a classic Hawke's Bay Chardonnay. Beautifully fragrant citrus, stone fruit and roasted nuts combine on a finely styled, textured and balanced palate showing good complexity."
94++ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Clearly, young is stating the obvious but I love sampling embryonic wines which provide pleasure today and in the future. The Soumah team picks this particular Chardonnay as early as they can to ensure a fresh line of citrus fruit and crisp natural acidity, which and if read alone would offer a degree of understatement. The joy of this young wine comes from its silky structure and palate feel which are achieved through barrel fermentation (specifically maturing gracefully for eight months prior to bottling). The nose offers a little poached pear and apple with a light sprinkling of sweet spice. The palate is crisp, clean, full of energy and lovely precision. Stony / minerals rather than dry. There’s a chewy grip which is admirable. Impressive with a few years of improvement ahead of it. Certainly, worth buying.”
Winemaker "Elegant, driven & focused. Aromas of Fresh stonefruit and fig with hints of macadamia, the palate is fresh and approachable - attractive peach and nectarine, supported by a soft underlying acidity and creamy texture with harmonious oak. Drink now or cellar confidently for 5+ years."
95++ Points, Stuart McCloskey "Whilst writing, I am sipping on a new wine from the Stella Bella stable. Otro Vino Chardonnay which and to quote them translates to ‘Other wine. Adventurous, creative, exotic, and explorative hand-crafted wines.’ I like it. In fact, I like it very much. It lacks the concentration of the Suckfizzle, but the same winemaking philosophy is matched. Sea spray, citrus and offers a lovely texture. A more detailed tasting note will be released soon. Highly recommended and should really be retailing for at least five pounds more a bottle.
Featured in James Halliday's 2019 Top 100 Whites Under $25
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95 Points - James Halliday "This has the typical energy, finesse and drive that makes Hoddles Creek have a ‘must buy' tag year in, year out. It has all the power needed to cruise through the next 10 years, with grapefruit, Granny Smith apple and stone fruit decorated with a necklace of bracing acidity."
96 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Certainly, one of the best value Chardonnays in our portfolio as the flavours and structure command a much higher price. The nose opens with grapefruit, an orchard full of ripe, yellow stoned fruits, quartz and a lovely undercurrent of spice. Similarly, the palate offers grapefruit and yellow stoned fruits. Complexity comes via wild fennel and lip-smacking salinity which I love - lots of minerality too. Impeccable balance, refreshing, focused, full of energy and not a step out of place. Just a joy… Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Do not overchill!”
96 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "What a treat from Franco D’Anna and his team. The Estate Chardonnay offers great quality and outstanding value. Generous and appetising perfume brimming with ripe nectarines and grapefruit with a great streak of minerals. The flavours on the palate follow suit and mirror the mouth-watering aromas. Simply scrumptious! A full bottle will be gone before you notice…"
95 Points - Sam Kim, Wine Orbit "Refined and sophisticated, the wine shows elegantly fragrant aromas of ripe peach, fig, toasted almond, vanilla and oatmeal on the nose, leading to a concentrated palate that displays excellent depth and weight, wonderfully complemented by creamy mouthfeel and bright acidity. A multi-layered beauty offering poise and complexity. At its best: now to 2025."
Winemaker "Intense and complex, this wine displays aromas of ripe peach, fig, toasted almond, vanilla and oatmeal on the nose.. A concentrated palate that displays excellent depth and weight, wonderfully complemented by a creamy mouthfeel and bright acidity"
96 Points- Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Captivating aromas hinting of intensity and elegance. Struck-match, minerals as well as citrus and white nectarine make for an amazing nose. The palate follows suit with layered textures delivering delicious complexity. Impressive and long on the finish with a touch of cashew and spice. Quite simply, Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay over-delivers on every level especially when considering its modest price tag."
96 points - Decanter "Smoky, earthy and mineral led bouquet. Complex and alluring. A great wine on the palate - dry, layers of spice and fruit, medium+ acidity, weighty and creamy. White peach and lemon, nectarine and red apple. Wood spice and wood smoke. Complex, layered, long. Drink now and through 2030."
96+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “The Upper Ngumby vineyard is within the confines of Yarra Glen, sloping gently east. It is protected from the late afternoon sun by the Christmas Hills, rising up to the west. The fruit was barrel fermented with 100% wild yeast, matured on lees for eight months with some secondary fermentation to create depth and finesse, which team Soumah succeed effortlessly. The nose offers a mix of lemon zest, minéralité and ozone. Serenely pure in two words. The palate is long and sophisticated. Full of drive, vigour and energy – lovely freshness and very moreish. This will flourish with more time in the bottle, drink now to 2025.”
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “I love the nose with its steely freshness – racy and cool climate, sweetened with a whiff of poached pears. The palate is much fuller than the Upper Ngumby and will appeal (enormously so) to those seeking a richer style. There’s a lovely combination of depth and mouth-watering freshness. The fruit is evidently sweeter and fills the mid-palate gloriously. Stony minerality keeps the wine in perfect check. This is a chardonnay on full parade, just bumptious and proud to be. A touch of salinity on the super long finish. Bloody brilliant – it’s as simple as that. Drink now to 2025.”
97+ Points – Magdalena Sienkiewicz "The perfume is so inviting with an abundance of citrus and minerals infused to perfection. The aromas are super pure but intense at the same time (give it a few minutes in the glass). Notes of lemon oil, chalk and oyster shell build up with aeration, together with a lovely touch of nougat, ginger and nashi pear. The flavours follow suit with elegance. It is generous, but equally composed, super smooth and even slightly viscous (amazing texture). No wonder this is the go to wine of team Shadowfax. Sampled using Zalto Bordeaux glassware following 30 minutes of decanting."
Bob Campbell "The first Bilancia Chardonnay I have tasted. Fruit from La Collina vineyard and Bridge Pa Triangle. Indigenous yeast and 15 months in oak without fining or cold stabilisation. Attractive, elegant chardonnay with tight citrus, mineral, struck flint and savoury yeast lees and spicy oak flavours. A classy chardonnay with development potential."
96+ Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Although Bricolage blends are a permanent feature of the Topper’s Mountain range, the composition varies from vintage to vintage. The 2014 Blanc is a fascinating blend of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. The Gewürztraminer influence is clear as it takes centre stage with its highly aromatic profile. Rich citrus and lychee dominate the perfume however, the aromatics are incredibly complex nevertheless. Wet stones, sweet vanilla, red grapefruit, cantaloupe melon and sea spray. Wholly unique. The palate is much more savoury than the perfume suggests but the freshness prevails. An abundance of citrus and minerals are delectable and they linger with impressive length. Such a distinctive wine. Unusual blends often present wacky styles however, Bricolage Blanc is rather fine and incredibly textural. Hats off! Bottle age served this wine well – there is no need for further cellaring and you should enjoy this beauty on the day of opening."
Huon Hooke, The Real Review, July 2018 “This unusual and excellent wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Petit Manseng. With a pungently spicy Gewürz-driven bouquet, it has an oily, round texture and is voluptuously soft, with stacks of flavour and character. The finish lasts long and the acidity keeps it tight and fresh.”
Mike Bennie, The Wine Front, Sept 2018 “Fleshy white of savoury nuttiness, floral characters, exotic spice and medium weight. There’s a sense of hyper-floral lift in both perfume and palate, but the gist is mostly about greener fruit flavours of pear and just ripe stone fruit. Finishes succulent and a touch grippy with a nice, bitter twist. Really lovely, really good.”
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96 Points - James Halliday "Hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, fermented in French oak (15% new), with natural mlf; 11 months in oak. Gleaming green-gold; the cashew/walnut complexity of the bouquet carries through to the palate, but here takes second place to its intense pink grapefruit core. Awesome second-tier wine."
97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Reductive at first but diminishes with a little aeration. I’ll start with my conclusion; overall a Chardonnay which is flamboyant, generous and thoroughly moreish, which will please those who are seeking a fuller style of wine. The value is off the charts – I believe most would be happy to pay north of thirty-pounds. With aeration (20 minutes or so) the wine unfurls with notes of creamed cashew, lemongrass, freshly juiced lemons, spice and wet, hot stones. Layer-upon-layer of fruit washes across your palate. Wonderful creamy richness juxtaposed with grip and acidity. Oodles of finesse with a finish which is endless. A real showstopper with the quality and structure to age gracefully over the next decade. A WOW for the money. Incredible value. Served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
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96 Points - James Halliday "From a single vineyard in Karridale, hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, fermented in French oak (20% new), mlf, matured for in oak for 11 months, plus 30 months in bottle. Karridale is in the southernmost (coolest) part of the Margaret River, but the youth of this wine is nonetheless amazing - as it has been in prior vintages. No single fruit flavour dominates, nor is the oak particularly obvious, it's just a very good chardonnay."
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The nose offers swathes of complexity, coupled with reductive flinty notes. Lemon oil in abundance which I love. The wine is broad on the palate, concentrated and fans out magnificently with a fine border of acidity. Weighty, nutty and the waxy expression is very appealing and not at all heavy. Sweet stone fruits complement the savoury edge – Zips of lemon and lime acidity delight. Unashamedly ripe and struts its stuff with much confidence. Moreish and mouth-watering. Has cellaring potential but has immediate appeal. Served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware and Queen’s Somebody to Love played at full blast. Fermented with 100% wild, indigenous yeast and fermented in French Barriques of which 27% were new with the balance 1 and 2 years old. It was then matured for 10 months in barriques.”
96+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “60% Pinot Noir / 40% Chardonnay. I like the nose very much as it wafts from my glass with a crescendo of red berries, pomegranate, crisp green apples and chalk. The palate is super fresh and comes across more succulent and fuller compared to the Cuvee Catherine. The mousse is rich and the mid palate weight adds further depth and a lovely mouthfeel. The fruit is fresh and sings with ripe raspberry, wild strawberry, pomegranate and a little bitter orange rind on the long finish… I detect a little chalkiness and salinity too, which brings a welcome distinction to the fruit. The balance is textbook and the structure provides some girth. I like it very much, but I feel the cold, outside temperature and driving rain is playing havoc with my senses (take note to my score!) - the colour and flavours talk to me of the summer and not the deep winter. Unquestionably, this drinks fabulously now, but I would like to see a further five years bottle age. Served using Zalto Universal glassware. Do not overchill.”
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Struck match, citrus, lemon and orange peel, flint, wild mint, spice and an unmistakable twang of pink grapefruit unfold from the glass. Like the Cabernet – the balance is exceptional. Crystalline purity is the signature along with a soft, powdery mouth feel. The palate follows a similar line with confit lemon, lemon grass and spice all fabulously infused with floral notes. Finesse more than oomph, nonetheless this is an exquisitely composed Chardonnay. Expressive in a reserved sense and will provide a complete drinking experience in 5-8 years. Gracious, and all the better for it. Do not overchill and ideally decant for 20-30 minutes. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
97+ Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "The 2018 Keltern burst with energy as vibrant perfume oozes form the glass. Buttered popcorn, citrus oil, ripe peaches and minerals make for a super expressive nose, but it needs at least 15 minutes in a glass to unfurl. The flavours coat every facet of the palate with great weight revealing further complexities. Creamy cashew nuts add character and richness while sweet nectarines are counterbalanced by a savoury edge. Lengthy and simply scrummy, I can see this becoming my new go-to New Zealand Chardonnay."
97 points - Sam Kim "Stunning and elegant, this is exquisitely composed and expressed on the nose showing white flesh nectarine, grapefruit, fig and lemon pith characters with nuances of spicy oak and flint. The palate exhibits exceptional concentration and focus, wonderfully enhanced by refined texture and perfectly pitched acidity. It’s splendidly poised and brilliantly structured for a long haul. At its best: 2022 to 2030."
97 Points - James Halliday "A tiny 0.37ha interplanted with Bernard/Dijon and Gin Gin clones on south-facing deep silver grey sands. Wild fermented in new and used oak. Pale straw-green; highly fragrant/perfumed, palate fine and intense; minerally aftertaste. 13% alc, screwcap. Drink to 2030.
"Stone fruit and citrus. Marzipan with hints of honey.
Slate-like mineral acidity"
Winemakers notes "Specific rows on three carefully selected Oatley vineyards at 450 to 520 metres made the cut for this outstanding modern Australian chardonnay. With a cross-section of old and new clones, hand selected and harvested at a couple of degrees lees potential alcohol than normal, this is a fascinating wine with a wide drinking window. Basket pressed, tight grained low toast French oak and natural yeast fermentation."
I love the salinity, purity and that same buttery pastry... Supremely sophisticated and yet again, in a class all of its own
97++ to 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Different and rightfully individual, but I can see glimpses of my old friend. The nose is evocative and builds with more aeration. Grilled, creamy nuts, buttery pastry, crème pat, fresh vanilla pod underpinned with confit lemon, crisp orchard fruits and the most striking mineral freshness imaginable. The palate is a little subdued but that’s ok with me as this beauty will last a decade or more. It’s textural, satiny, fleshy and elegant in a muscular sense. I love the salinity, purity and that same buttery pastry. The acidity is racy and the pithy structure chewy and delightful. Supremely sophisticated and yet again, in a class all of its own by an indescribable sense of completeness. One of the highlights of my year and I am pinching three dozen for sure. Do not overchill, decant for 20-30 minutes and ideally serve in Zalto Bordeaux glassware or similar. Drink now to 2030+ (I believe this will be 99 points in 5-8 years)”
97+ - 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The ’18 Bonadale Chardonnay is displaying both vibrant and youthful characteristics ranging from buttered citrus, lemon oil, spring flowers, spiced orchard fruit – a faint waft of pastry cream is building… The vineyard is elevated and sun-exposed providing wonderful depth and roundness mid-palate, which works a treat with the chewy extract. Minerals (chalk in particular) provides structure and some textural grip. Tensile, finely tuned (fine boned is stature) and despite the exposure to the sun, provides a ‘cool’ feel which may be indicative of the vintage. The fruit is ample, ripe and the balance is nigh on perfect. It is easy to imagine how this wine will evolve over the next ten years – the shoulders will broaden, the minerality and acidity will scale back, allowing buttery, orchard fruits to flourish. Really exquisite without the bottle age. Decant for 30 minutes, do not overchill and serve using Zalto Bordeaux glassware”
95 Points - Bob Campbell "First release of a new Marlborough chardonnay. Full-flavoured, with salty, briny, citrus, toasty yeast lees and spicy oak flavours. Lively, tangy wine with a pleasing texture and lengthy finish. Intensity and power suggest good cellaring potential. Clearly one to watch."
16.5 Points - Jancis Robinson "Dusty but deep citrus fruit. Very ripe, almost apricot fruit on the palate. Rounded and generous and not particularly oaky, just a touch of spice on the finish and very good freshness."
97+ - 98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “It’s taken some time for this beauty to develop and it certainly has a bright future ahead. Do not overchill and allow the wondrous bouquet to unfurl to crisp yellow stone fruits, lemon oil, rich with minerality (wet chalk), buttered citrus, spring flowers and nashi pear. I adore the bouquet which I find so evocative. I could happily spend the day swirling and sniffing without the need to taste (it’s that alluring). The palate is tight knit, finely boned, endlessly long and built with cellaring in mind. The elegant textural element is wonderful. The purity and balance are exceptional. Tensile whilst providing fleshy orchard fruits. Structured but the flavours amplify with aeration and provide a real sense of volume. The wine is as long as you are willing to travel and finally ends with a lick of salinity. Magical and I absolutely adore it… Currently my favourite Chardonnay in our portfolio. Drink now to 2030. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
97++ - 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Like the ‘South’ the bouquet speaks of its birthplace but with a little more concentration. Lemon oil, lemon thyme, licks of wet stone, sea salt and take a walk past Jasmine to really appreciate the floral aromatics. The palate is a touch waxier in style / weightier and offers more immediate enjoyment. That tell-tale salinity is such an attractive quality and works a treat with the fresh zip of citrus, flint and razor-sharp acidity. Extremely elegant and judged perfectly. This is just a beautiful, crystalline Tassie Chardonnay which will be amazing in five or so years. Served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Do not serve from the fridge. 11-13 degrees being the best temperature. Decant for a wee while as this wine needs a little aeration”.
98 Points - Stuart McCloskey "The most floral bouquet of the three, with buttered citrus and fresh vanilla seeds drifting from the glass. Still, and not to bore, lemons, minerals and salinity are also present.. The palate offers an intense experience and not necessarily through flavour as the vitality and tension offers a wonderful shrill of excitement. The balance is exquisite and, given its age, it is difficult to pin-down exact flavours save for a little crisp, green apple. So much energy and tightly coiled like a piston waiting to explode. Minerals and citrus contrast with a marine-influenced finish which I love. Truly outstanding and will be hitting its stride in five or so years. Potentially perfect in ten. Served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Do not serve from the fridge. 11-13 degrees being the best temperature. Decant for a wee while as this wine needs a little aeration”.
97-98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet is penetrating, precise, and certainly descends from a cool, maritime climate. Scents of lemon, mineral, sea spray and jasmine graciously unfurl from the glass. With time, the aromatics intensify and quite considerably (see my footnote regarding temperature and decanting). The palate is incredibly complex, regal and struts its stuff with such confidence, all the while highlighting its self-control. Tightly coiled but balanced perfectly with a satiny stream of citrus and minerals. The saline note on the long finish is lovely. There’s beautiful weight to the wine and it cradles your palate with an admirable suspense. A very, very fine Chardonnay which would benefit from five or so years in the bottle and will fan-out gloriously over a decade or more. Served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Do not serve from the fridge. 11-13 degrees being the best temperature. Decant for a wee while as this wine needs a little aeration”.
95 Points - James Halliday "A blend of all three single vineyards comprising 60% Derwent Valley, 30% Tamar Valley and 10% East Coast. A good combo with the same intense precision and length but the flavours seem somewhat bolstered, a sum of its parts perhaps. Lemon drops and zest, lemon saline, aniseed and lovely creamy, ginger fluff flavours across the palate from the lees. The acidity is electric and lights this up."
Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "A blend of Tamar Valley, East Coast & Derwent Valley fruit. Well, this wine is, including a full laser show. Lemon rind, bread dough, wheatgerm, aniseed, cinnamon and white peach. Intense, precise, so much crunch and energy, chalk dust, green olive and brine, searing long finish. Drink while wearing sunglasses, and little else. That’s how pure and cool it is."
97-98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet is explosive but does require a little aeration (30 minutes in a decanter will do the job nicely). Lemon oil, citrus, limestone and chalk aplenty – it’s so fresh and taut (the zippy acidity really crackles), which are all terroir indicators referencing this wine’s elevated (550m) site in the Macedon Ranges. The palate feel, fruit, structure and acidity are all in harmonious chorus. Similar to the bouquet, the palate strides forward with citrus in abundance – almost lip smacking. The texture is deeply satisfying with satiny ribbons of lemon curd and Yuzu. The vineyard was planted back in 1993 which aids the wine’s tremendous concentration. The finish is racy and super long… A wonderful Chardonnay that speaks of its surroundings. One for the cellar and I very much look forward to revisiting the wine over the coming years. Drink now to 2035. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
97-98 Points – Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Exuberant and complex perfume radiates from the glass with an abundance of orchard fruit, citrus and an entire meadow of spring flowers. Notes of crystalline minerality add to its aromatic elegance. Ripe pears, apples and white peaches make an introduction on the palate before leaving the stage to allow grapefruit, lemons and lime take control. There is a pleasing roundness to the plentiful citrus, which are hard to pin down at this stage, but suggest underlying complexities yet to blossom. Even though this is such a young wine, its ample flavours coat every facet of your palate with perfectly judged weight. This will evolve beautifully over the next 5-10 years, but don’t hold back if you love the flavours described. Tasted using Zalto Bordeaux glassware, which often brings out more savoury notes in wine I find. Please decant for 30 minutes at the very least, longer if you can."
99 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Personally, I feel this is becoming more extraordinary with each passing year. I could write a short book on the bouquet alone, which is hedonistic, breathtaking and takes you on the most magical of journeys. Where to start? Honeyed liquid minerals, wet stones, saline / ocean spray, sweet pastry spice, candied lemon, lemon oil, white flowers (honeysuckle), creamed hazelnuts, anise and buttered white toast in the background. The palate feel is powerful and the amplitude and depth astonishing. The poise, detail and balance are equally exceptional, all adding to a sense of being in the presence of a world class wine, which you are… The fruit is sourced from three cool climate regions; Tasmania, Yarra Valley and Tumbarumba – The Tassie fruit providing wonderful lift and refinement. The utterly extraordinary palate offers immeasurable layers of minerals, stones, sweet, buttered spiced orchard fruit. It’s glossy, silken, almost too perfect as sensations go. A bright line of acidity carries to the core, providing intensity and above all, perfect balance. Oiliness is emerging which adds more fullness and dimension. This wine possesses one of the longest and purist finishes I have ever encountered from an Aussie Chardonnay – the spiced buttered finish held together with grippy acidity is simply magnificent and continues for minutes. Value aside, certainly one of the best white wines I've enjoyed in the past 3-5 years. I feel compelled to give it the highest possible score however, I will resist as I believe a further five to ten years in the cellar will provide absolute perfection. This is just the beginning… Served at circa 13 degrees (cool garage temperature will be perfect) and using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Important note: The temperature and your glassware choices are critical.” Tasted 16th November 2020
97 - 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey - "The bouquet is highly finessed with orchard fruits, fine floral notes, whispers of brioche and almond. The palate is equally fresh, incisive and shows all the hallmarks of elegance and grace which Chardonnay can deliver. I believe the ’15 Catherine Cuvée has reached an important crossroads which is exciting. Today, it’s charming, tensile and carries crystalline purity with ease, but and with a little aeration, the wine opens beautifully to reveal layer upon layer of fruit with touches of honey. I believe this will turn a corner in five or so years to reveal a real gem as all the qualities and characteristics are peering through – it is tightly wound for the time being. This has been a true joy to sample and is certainly one of the region's very best. Served using Zalto Universal glassware. Do not overchill."
97++ Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz - "Lovely nose – elegant, but not shy. Orchard fruit, brioche and almonds ooze gracefully from the glass. The palate is supremely elegant too. The wine opens with a lovely sweetness from ripe pears and juicy apples. The palate weight and creamy complexity is on point but has the room to develop. Terrific purity and balance. Clearly it has potential to age (5-10 years) however, I will personally struggle to find enough patience as it’s utterly delicious in its current form. Mouth-watering and simply brilliant. Sampled using Zalto Universal glassware and please do not overchill."
98 Points, Stuart McCloskey - tasting note coming soon.
96 Points - Nick Stock (James Suckling.com) "This has a slightly reductive edge to the nose with sliced-lemon, grilled-almond and peach character. Really fresh and pristine. The palate has a very impressive, concentrated feel with nectarines, peaches and citrus fruit. So pure and long. Drink now. Screw cap."
2021 Best Chardonnay Wines - Wine Companion Awards
97+ - 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet is inviting with poached apples and pears (lightly spiced), lemon oil and lots of sea spray which builds fabulously with more aeration. A wine of great delicacy with the balance between fruit, structure and acidity pitch perfect. The palate is chiselled and laser-like with racy acidity. Saline, lemon, green apple and flint. Very sophisticated and intellectual, but natural all the same. The focus and purity feel unforced – very contemporary. Bottle age will develop this wine into an absolute beauty. It certainly has the pedigree and structure to offer at least a decade. Oh so graceful and the finish lasts for minutes… I predict this will score 98 to 99 points with a few years bottle age.”
Neal Martin, Vinous "The 2016 Virtuoso Chardonnay, God forbid, actually brought to mind a Meursault Village from Coche-Dury on the nose (yes, it is that good!). There is a touch of reduction here, but it is well managed and does not impede fruit expression. The lightly spiced palate is very well balanced, with a honeyed opening and touches of hazelnut, almond and sesame, leading to an intense finish that lingers in the mouth. Brilliant."
95 Points - Sam Kim, Wine Orbit "This is impressively complex on the nose showing grilled stone fruit, hazelnut, gun smoke, lemon peel and vanilla characters, leading to a sumptuous palate that is concentrated and weighty. The wine offers terrific fruit power as well as engaging savoury nuances, finishing gloriously long and gratifying."
97 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "Struck match, lime, grapefruit, almonds, chicken stock, flickers of cool green. Fine and composed, surges through the mouth, grips on tight, and doesn’t let go. So long. Flint, chalk, crunch, texture, subtle bitterness. It’s all here. It’s very Adult Chardonnay. Racy. A nudge and wink to those in-the-know. Outstanding."
96 Points - James Halliday "Bright straw-green; the complex bouquet has a positive touch of funk, as does the palate, but it's here that all the parts of the wine are fused together. The seamless flow of white peach, melon and grapefruit is given context by delicate cashew oak and fine acidity."
97 Points - Decanter "Among all of the different regions where Chardonnay has impressed in Australia, the Yarra is perhaps the one where the fruit itself charms most readily from the off. This steel-green wine carries its oak very lightly, and the fruit sings out: nectarine, peach and dessert apple all draw the drinker into the glass. On the palate, the wine is soft, tender, almost juicy: its perfect ripeness apparent in that limpidity of expression, and in the seamless incorporation of vibrant and rounded acidity into a natural and succulent poise. The oak, once again, is almost invisible: a swelling of tone rather than flavour. The only danger with deliciousness of this order is that you might be tempted to drink it all too quickly. Fine quality raw materials suggest there's no hurry here."
2021 Best Chardonnay Wines - Wine Companion Awards
98 points - James Halliday "Planted on a east-facing terraced hill slope. It's quite certain the wine was barrel-fermented with a percentage of new French oak, but it's been soaked up by the fruit. It's an intricately polished wine, the fruit/oak/acid balance sheer perfection, its longevity impossible to guess."
95 Points - Campbell Mattinson "Fabulous chardonnay. The cup runneth over. Slick, spritely, satiny and sustained. There’s flavour, there’s finesse, there’s a flourish to the finish. Lemon, lime, a sorbet-like aspect, nectarine and white peach, with a classy clip of spicy-sweet cedarwood oak. There’s almost a bacony aspect here, a smoked meat note, rosemary even, though it’s exquisitely pure of fruit. Potential for positive development is huge."
98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “In the late summer, team Stolpman pull every leaf away from the fruit to allow for full sun penetration. A month prior to harvest, when the sun exposed side of each cluster tans, but the inside remains green, every grape cluster is gently hand rotated 180 degrees to facilitate an even suntan. The focus, determination and attention to detail provides one of the best new world Roussannes, in my opinion. Spiced pear, apple, buttered citrus, tangerine skin, orange blossom and honey unfold majestically from the glass. There’s theatre, with golden hues whilst the viscous intensity grips the side of my glass with all its life. The palate is concentrated, full bodied with waves of honey and buttered fruits covering every facet. There’s a spiciness (fresh ginger) which gently starts at the tip of my tongue and continues to lay a path of warmth all the way back. Intensity is the core of this wine, with minerality and acidity providing some welcome relief. With time, honeysuckle and peach emerge, but so too does the spiciness, which I love. Emphatically long; never-ending to be perfectly honest and will continue to provide an extraordinary wine experience for many years to come. Do not overchill. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware”.
98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Time in the glass is the great benefactor (mine was left for an hour) resulting in a bouquet that blossoms and comes alive with buttered lemon, citrus peel, quartz, salty sea spray and chalk – vibrant and captivating. The palate delivers wave after wave of seductive buttered citrus fruit underpinned with razor sharp acidity. The density and palate feel are truly remarkable for such a young wine. I fear you would miss the amplitude, sheen, depth and glossiness if poured straight from the fridge (word to the wise). Yet another suave, seamless and immensely pleasing wine which will only get better over the next 10+ years. For Burgundy purists or those seeking something special, but do not want to part with £100 – this is the one for you. Compelling drinking. Decant for an hour and serve using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
Enjoy your favourite wine the way it was meant to taste with these wonderful lead crystal creations from Riedel, which are shaped according to the character of the wine in order to enhance its rich, aromatic flavours.
Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "Australia’s leading authority on Chardonnay north of 2065, Prof. John Humphrey, has been applying firm but fair pressure on me to get these wines reviewed. Let’s see if I get it right. Matchstick, ginger biscuits, lime and white peach, kiss of vanilla oak, and white flowers. It’s cool, refined, distinctly pure and minerally, not a huge amount of flavour, though what’s there is very appealing. Fine flinty texture, oatmeal and slightly toasty savoury things on a long lemon water-coloured finish. Beautiful thing. Diaphanous. High appeal on the glass to glass measure, but also delight in refinement and style."
95 Points - James Halliday "Poise and power in equal measure. Balanced flavours of white stone fruit sprinkled with lemon zest, ginger and oak spices. Finely tuned across the palate with texture from the lees influence, but still strikingly fine from its acidity."
Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "A very good Chardonnay out of Butcher’s this year. As fit as a butcher’s dog, you might say. Smooth, composed, light in flavour, cool and savoury, white fruit and citrus flecked with exotic spice and aniseed, quartz-y texture, a little lemon rind in the long fresh finish. Texture is a highlight. So very elegant and adult. So nice."
The 2018 vintage had a slightly warmer than average year, this led to the richness that Butcher’s Hill is known for, however there were no heat spikes through the ripening period that allowed slow and even fruit development. The resulting wine is reminiscent of Grand Cru Chablis with a great deal of energy, tension and vitality. Partial malolactic fermentation (around 50%) allows the wine to combine and create complexity throughout the palate and the use of larger oak barrels (one third new) allows the penetration of ripe stone fruit and floral notes through the grapefruit acidity lingering with a long flinty finish.
Gary Walsh, The Wine Front “That balance between finesse, fruit flavour and flinty struck match is just so spot on here. White peach, ripe lime, cashew and fine spicy oak. It’s juicy and intense, subtle honey and lemon curd richness, cool clean acidity, flinty and electric, light toasty oak and matchstick layering in complexity, and a very long spiced and lime drizzled finish. Beautiful wine, and for my tastes, pretty much in the zone now and over the next few years.”
Decanter Magazine “There are so many top-drawer Margaret River Chardonnays, they could have filled half this list on their own: Cullen’s Kevin John, Leeuwin’s Art Series, Voyager, Moss Wood, Thompson Estate, McHenry Hohnen... But I’ve picked Pierro, a personal favourite. It’s a powerful, weighty wine that can carry its mighty oak (24 months, 65% new), with fresh acidity to offset the opulent tropical fruit and buttery popcorn notes on the seductive palate.”
94 Points - Jeb Dunnuck (erobertparker.com) "Another sensational effort for these two brothers, the 2014 Chardonnay Home Block Spring Ridge Vineyard reveals more minerality, as well as medium to full-bodied richness, terrific purity and classic, tropical aromas and flavors. Expansive, gorgeously textured and balanced, drink this beauty over the coming 5-7 years."
95 Points - Antonio Galloni "Varner's Chardonnay Amphitheater Block is rich, ample and super-expressive. Lemon peel, almonds, chamomile, earthiness, dried apricot and sage meld together effortlessly. The 2013 Amphitheater is a classic Varner Chardonnay built on phenolic intensity and plenty of savory/floral notes that add nuance, while the fruit is pushed a bit into the background."