WINE: Chardonnay an eternal classic

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Rob Palandri was raised in Margaret River and has been involved in the wine industry as a producer, wine bar owner, agent, drinker and reviewer of 1000s of wines.

FOR a grape variety that is the most distributed white grape in the world, Chardonnay only made its fashion statement on the wine fashion catwalk in the mid 1970’s.

The origins of this grape are many hundreds of years older than that and are in France, Burgundy where the grape variety name was not permitted on the label.

This region was the home of stunning, uniquely individual, complex and intense white wine that bedazzled the new world winemakers who happily planted the grape and put the word Chardonnay on their labels in the mid 1970’s, causing a major shift in white wine drinking habits globally.

Australia joined the party at that time.

No other white grape approaches the versatility of Chardonnay.

In Burgundy it makes the highest quality most expensive still white wines globally while in Champagne it is one of the three major grapes that produces Champagne.

On its own Chardonnay also makes beautifully crafted Champagne Blanc de Blanc.

It’s not hard to pinpoint why Chardonnay is the world’s favourite white wine.

Its flavours range from lemon, citrus, apple, pineapple and melon on the lighter flavours spectrum to stonefruits, buttery, creamy, nutty and butterscotch on the heavier flavours spectrum.

There is a Chardonnay for everyone, it’s just what would you like to drink.

There is no doubt that Australian winemakers are driving the style of this great grape to wines that have more emphasis on the region of origin that translates to savouriness, texture, minerality, fine and necessary acidity and beautiful integration of barely discernible oak maturation.

A welcome change for many drinkers away from the powerful, bold and thickly textured oaky styles that still have their place on the Chardonnay flavour spectrum.

In Australia, it is widely grown and the regions where it seems to produce outstanding wines is Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, Mornington, Yarra Valley, Great Southern, Pemberton and Margaret River.

This latter region is almost certainly the greatest and most consistent region for high quality Chardonnay barring Burgundy, which has stratospheric pricing to match its quality wines.

An added benefit is that Chardonnay is one of the few white wines that actually gets better with bottle age.

It’s a great food wine, particularly with shellfish, specifically tiger prawns and crays, oysters and delicate white meat fish.

It can handle and enhance food dishes with some creamy, buttery sauces and it matches well with cheeses on the mild flavour spectrum like parmigiano, aged cheddar, brie and camembert.

Pricing is generally a good indicator of quality, be prepared to pay $25 plus.

Here is a good selection of Chardonnay’s with varying flavour spectrums.

2017 Castelli Chardonnay(Pemberton) $29

This is cool climate. Very intense bold flavours. Powerful mouthfeel. Not a shrinking violet here. Ripe yellow stonefruits and noticeable oak flavours. Good length and generous warm long finish.

17.5/20 (91 points)

Available Grand Cru, Liquor Barons Wembley, Scarborough Cellars

2017 Soumah Chardonnay Select Vineyard (Yarra Valley) $30

Sweet and fresh stonefruits bouquet, lovely medium bodied, no edges, round and integrated mouthfeel, quite delicious and so drinkable and enjoyable. On the lighter flavours spectrum.

17.5/20 (91 points)

Available Liquor Barons Swanbourne, Steves Fine Wines, Vintage Cellars

2017 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay (Margaret River) $45

Pristine, enticing peach and stone fruits bouquet. Fresh, textured, round, medium rich body. Great balance of fine stonefruit flavours and superb oak integration. Long finish, top class, classic Margaret River Chardonnay at its best. Will cellar. I think their best yet.

18.5/20 (94 plus points)