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."
Fuller bodied, textural and oaked whites
Unsurprisingly, given that it is by far Australia’s most planted grape variety, Chardonnay is found across the country in a variety of styles but it is the fuller, oaked style that the grape has become most well known for. The sickly, buttery overly oaked Chardonnay is a thing of the past and there is a strong focus towards linear styles with well defined, stone fruit and creamy, well-managed oak. Rhone white varieties also grow well in Australia’s various regions producing richly textured wines from several of Australia’s moderate or warm climates.
If you are looking for Chardonnay with well-managed oak giving texture and body, then Margaret River is leading the pack on the world wine stage. This style of wine is found across Australia but Margaret River is the region gaining the lion’s share of the awards and headlines, the maritime influences preserving the fresh, crisp acidity that perfectly balances the ripe fruit and oak. The regions top producers for this style are Flowstone, Deep Woods, Nocturne, Pierro and Robert Oatley.
Head east to South Australia and you can find some great examples of Chardonnay from Hardys and Petaluma and head even further east across to Victoria where you can find incredible Chardonnays from By Farr and Hoddles Creek in Yarra Valley. The ocean influences or cooler elevated temperatures found at Victoria’s coastline or Yarra Valley’s hills mean that premium Chardonnay fruit can be grown here without getting overly ripe in an otherwise warm area. Stone fruit and spicy oak and creamy textured Chardonnays are balanced with refreshing acidity.
Roussanne is a grape that is growing in popularity as a single variety. A Rhone white variety, often forming part of a blend with Marsanne, Viognier and other Rhone white grapes, in Australia Roussanne has found a home in several of the country’s well-known regions. Wines are ripe and textured with a fuller body and often showing rich peach and apricot fruit balanced with fresh acidity. Great examples can be found in numerous locations but look out for Wild Duck Creeks Roussanne from Heathcote which takes advantage of the cool breezes that are channeled from the surrounding hills. Powell & Son’s Roussanne – Marsanne blend is produced in Barossa but comes as a surprise when compared to the usual perceptions of Barossa wines. The wine is textured and ripe but retains a backbone of mineral and firm acidity.