Yes Yes Yes, I love puns. Unashamedly. And seeing that I’m late with this post and writing on the Melbourne Cup tuesday I thought it a suitable title for this week’s edition.
So is there actually some substance behind the cheesy title? Well yes! Today I”m talking about the grape that Australia should be known for on an international stage. And if we’re not known for excelling in it yet, the word is spreading quickly. The grape? Shiraz? Cabernet? Riesling? Pinot even? Not a chance. It’s Chardonnay.
For those of you who share my passion, good for you. For those that think you don’t like Chardonnay? You just haven’t tried the right one yet.
Over the last 5-8ish years, Australian Chardonnay has moved light-years away from the heavily oaked, over-ripened monsters of the past and into something more akin to a tightly coiled spring. All of this has happened while much of the consumer’s attention has been focussed on the (tres average) ‘sauvalanche’ of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Sauv Blanc is great as a springboard into other varietals, so if you haven’t moved on yet, it’s time to expand your horizons. While many were busy necking bottles of cloudy bay, Aussie winemakers (in suitable regions – this is important) took their cues from the great Chardonnays of Burgundy and toned down the oak while dialling up the acid, and have started to create something that shows some respect to its European heritage but crucially has an enormously strong sense of place and identity.
So why should we be heralding this? The highest compliment that you can pay a wine is that it speaks uniquely of the place and conditions in which it is grown. Chardonnay is showing this in ways that our more famous styles have never been able to. Wines from producers such as Oakridge and Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley are starting to hone the expressions of their vineyards and seasons and it’s exciting to watch (Adelaide Hills, the Mornington Peninsula and a few other cool climate regions are equally as good). These wines are lean, focussed, and have all the balance to enable them to age gracefully; and every year the winemakers are getting better and better at making them. Those in the know have been singing about Aussie Chardonnay for some years now and the message is finally starting to get through. Jump on board or be left behind (and while you’re at it, we can start you on what’s possible with Chardonnay in France…)!
Most importantly though, the wines are breathtakingly delicious and worth discovering! Isn’t it time you drank more of them?