Family owned d’Arenberg is located in the breath-taking McLaren Vale in South Australia and produces an enviable range of wines. From humble beginnings, these wines quickly gained cult status amongst imbibers and judges alike – it’s a deft combination of winemaking tradition and vinous innovation. A tall order for some, but one that d’Arenberg takes in their stride as they continue to push the boundaries and get under the skin of each individual vineyard in order to get the best from the vines. This is backed up by an engaging consumer-friendly approach to the ‘deadly serious fun’ of wine.
Residual sugar = 3.9g/litre (ie dry).
D'Arenberg's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details (2018 sheet - 2019 sheet imminent).
ABV = 14.0%.
Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
Also awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).
Dawson James is the project of Peter Dawson and Tim James, who met in 1976 when they were both working at Hardy & Sons, and where they continued to work alongside each other for 20 years. They have since moved on to different projects, including Willunga 100 in McLaren Vale for Tim, but have collaborated again to produce the Dawson & James wines in Tasmania. Their shared passion for Australian art, farming, camping and gastronomy, as well as their dedication to fine Australian wine, have combined in this exciting project, and the wines are the proof of their winemaking wisdom and enthusiasm. The wines come from the Meadowbank Vineyard, which is located around 60 kilometres north-west of Hobart, an area characterised by rugged topography and the fast flowing, pristine waters of the Derwent river.
The Meadowbank Vineyard is located in the Derwent Valley in southern Tasmania, and was planted in 1989. The site is 70 metres above the river level and the north-easterly aspect gives it optimal sunlight exposure for grape ripening. The soil is a combination of brown sandy loams over structured clays and sandstone rock. It has a devigorating nature, helping the balanced growth and structure of the vines. Vines are trellised to single cordon and managed to one bunch per shoot, and yields are kept at less than six tonnes per hectare.
For this vintage: the vineyard received good rainfall in spring and early summer resulting in good vine health, however inclement weather around fruit set reduced crops. Temperatures throughout ripening were slightly above average but it was a cooler season than the preceding two years with a notable absence of heat spikes.
Grapes were hand picked and wholebunch pressed. Free run juice was transferred to oak sourced from Burgundian cooperages. Primary fermentation in oak, 40% was new oak, was followed by partial malolactic fermentation. The wine remained in oak and on its lees for nine months with fortnightly stirring.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
This Chardonnay has a bright pale yellow colour. The aromas are subtle creamy, nutty and toasty notes derived from barrel fermentation accompanied by zesty lemon pith fruit characters. On the palate, there are intense citrus fruit flavours which are balanced by lively acidity and mineral characters.
ABV = 12.2%.
The Hamelin Bay winery is located at Karridale in the southern point of the region within a few miles of the ocean. The 63-acre Five Ashes vineyard is located on well drained gravel soils and faces north across the valley to gain the suns warmth in this cool region. The wines themselves are an expression of the natural beauty and uniqueness of the area, the fruit ripens with an intensity of flavour and richness of character. Owned by the Drake-Brockman family, who have a long association with the area, they have in recent years, achieved great recognition and awards for their range of outstanding wines.
Barrel fermented and then matured for 10 months in new, one- and two-year-old French oak barriques with fortnightly battonage.
This cool climate Chardonnay has aromas of peach, pear and dried banana preceding a lovely toasty and complex palate. It is a full flavoured creamy Chardonnay created to be similar to a Burgundian wine. Fermented and aged on its lees, the stone fruit and toasted palate - flavours of ripe peach, nectarine, orange blossom, cashew, vanilla bean and nougat - is balanced with crisp citrus acidity. The integrated oak creates a luxurious mouthfeel which leads onto a butterscotch finish. Enjoy with spicy Asian dishes, scallops or lobster thermidor and chicken chasseur.
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
At 76, when most people would be thinking about easing up, Joe launched Josef Chromy Wines in December 2007. In just over 4 years, Josef Chromy Wines made an impressive impact on the Australian wine industry.
Josef Chromy's winemaking style is founded on producing wines that show a true ‘sense of place’ and celebrate the individual characteristics of each unique vintage. To ensure the integrity and delicate characteristics of the fruit, the grapes are received and vinified in Tasmania’s most advanced winery with emphasis on the wine being an expression of its terrior.
In all of their wines balance is the ultimate focus, striving to marry fruit, natural acidity, structure, tannin and texture. The use of state-of-the-art technology for traditional winemaking techniques enables a gentle, minimal intervention approach which allows the subtle and delicate flavours of the cool climate vineyard to be expressed to their full potential.
Please click on the blue link below to see the winemaker's notes on this wine.
Citrus zest, tropical lime and white stonefruit aromas with underlying hints of toast and walnut. The palate shows elegant primary citrus fruit flavours of lemon and grapefruit, underpinned by sweet, creamy macdamia nut notes and hints of oatmeal. The palate is structured and balanced, with juicy lees complexity and toasty undertones. Fresh, natural acidity gives focus and length.
ABV = 13.1%.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Mount Horrocks Wines is run by proprietor/winemaker Stephanie Toole. Stephanie restricts production to approximately 3,500 cases per annum in order to achieve her aims of quality and single vineyard expression. Stephanie describes her wines as 'essentially hand made food wines with an emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours'. All grapes are 100% estate grown from three separate vineyard sites totalling nearly 10 hectares which, in 2014, were 'A grade certified' by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). Her persistence with classic, no-compromise winemaking and a fully integrated organic approach to growing and making sets Mount Horrocks wines apart from the mainstream.
The 2017 harvest was later than previous years, after a cool and slightly wetter summer and growing period. The grapes were hand harvested in the cool of the morning, when the grapes were in pristine condition.
100% estate-grown and certified organic, the grapes are carefully hand-harvested in the cool of the morning and sent straight to the winery where they are destemmed, crushed and gently pressed. The free-run juice is isolated and settled prior to fermenting in French oak barriques, one-third of which are new.
Each barrel is stirred weekly for three months then left on gross lees for a total of nine months when Stephanie conducts a series of tastings to determine the final blend. Once assembled it is bottled without fining.
Very pale white gold. Dried wildflower and lightly stewed apple over nuanced spicy oak. Crisp, lightly savoury, lemony Semillon with texture and length. Layered and flavoursome yet relatively light and bright for what is a wood-aged white, the pristine fruit shining through on the finish, balanced by chalky acidity. Sips nicely on its own but truly shines with grilled white fish or poultry. Worth cellaring through to 2028.
ABV = 12.5%.
The 2014 vintage of this wine was a huge hit when it featured in Decanter (www.decanter.com) recently. The current 2017 vintage is now newly available and also superb; indeed, as the below vintage table (also from Decanter) shows, 2017 is already talked of by some as the best Riesling vintage in Australia for over 15 years.
The 2014 vintage was awarded 98 points and rare Exceptional status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling (see blue link below) .
See also here for Decanter's assessment of Australian Riesling vintages (click blue link below).
Clare Valley is one of Australia`s oldest wine regions and is probably best known for its Riesling wines. Polish Hill River is a sub-region one and a half hours drive north from Adelaide. Named after the Polish settlers of the mid 1800s, the climate is ideal for premium grape growing with a combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period.
Pauletts' reputation for producing wines of finesse, elegance and intensity is justly deserved with consistent skill and care from vintage to vintage. Neil Paulett graduated from the Roseworthy oenology course in the early 1970s and spent a further ten years honing his winemaking skills at Penfolds before buying his own property in the Clare Valley. Located some 90 minutes north of Adelaide,this lovely property now extends to 150 hectares with 47 planted with vines. Since the first vintage in 1983 there have been many accolades both at home and internationally. These wines are a true reflection of the region and are of outstanding quality.
The Clare Valley yields one of the world`s great styles of Riesling. This youthful, aromatic, dry wine has intense mineral and floral aromas on the nose. These aromas follow through on the palate leading to flavours of lime, citrus and white blossom. Tropical fruits and citrus dominate the fresh, racy acidity and a distinct minerality comes through on the palate leaving a fantastic, clean finish.
This wine is a good choice to accompany seafood, especially prawn, crab, oysters and bass and mildly spiced Thai stir fry and seafood curries.
ABV = 12.8%.
The Tooma River flows from Mount Jagungal, high in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. It carries the snowmelted water gently downstream until it feeds the winelands around the famous Murray River, and without which viticulture would not be possible in the arid climate of inland Australia.
The grapes for this wine were grown in the sun-drenched countryside of the Riverland region of South Australia, where the warm and dry climate is ideal for ripening Chardonnay into a fruit driven and satisfying style.
Individual parcels are selected for picking and fermentation in steel tanks, and after fermentation a further rigorous selection and careful blending process results in this Reserve wine.
Chardonnay thrives in the warm and sun kissed Australian vineyard – delivering an unmistakeably vibrant and fruit driven style. This wine is no exception and is packed with grapefruit, lime and melon flavours, all bound up with a zesty, crisp citrus balance which cuts through to the finish. A deliciously refreshing glass by itself, this is also a great partner for full flavoured fish, crustaceans or spicy Asian influenced dishes.
ABV = 12.5%.
Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition article, The Most Exciting Wines of 2019 (see blue link below).
NB: previously called the Xanadu Estate Chardonnay, recently renamed by the producer!
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article: Decanter buyer's guide: Australian Chardonnay (see blue link below).
See the link below for the full set of awards the Xanadu Estate Chardonnay 2017 has (so far) received (it has only just reached the UK!).
Xanadu was established by Dr John Lagan, an Irishman, who arrived in Margaret River in 1968 and was inspired by the pioneering spirit of the region. At the time, the potential of Margaret River as one of the world’s finest wine-producing regions was only just being considered. So less than a decade on, Dr Lagan with his wife Eithne established one of the region’s earlier vineyards, planting his first vines in 1977. Lovers of literature will remember Xanadu as Samuel Coleridge’s mysterious, idyllic, exotic city; home of Kubla Khan. Dr Lagan, himself a great literature enthusiast, drew parallels between Coleridge’s visions of utopia and his newly adopted home, and thus the name Xanadu was born.
To see Xanadu's excellent information sheet for this wine, please click on the blue link below.
ABV = 13.0%.
"A stunning Chardonnay for the intensity and complexity it delivers, this has attractive flinty aromas aligned with white peaches and nectarines. The palate has mouthwatering intensity with fresh acidity and very attractive fruit purity. Grilled hazelnuts to close. Drink now".
96 Points, James Suckling - June 2019
A true classic of the Chardonnay world. Simple as.
Established in 1989 by Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW, Shaw + Smith's aim is to make contemporary, high quality wines that stand among the best of their type in Australia. The wines are made exclusively from fruit grown in the Adelaide Hills, one of Australia's coolest and most exciting regions. Shaw + Smith specialise in grape varieties suited to cooler climates, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and also make fantastic wines from Shiraz and Pinot Noir.
Fruit was sourced principally from the Shaw + Smith vineyard at Lenswood, which lies at 500 metres above sea level. Low yields were achieved by aggressive pruning and pre-harvest bunch thinning. All fruit was hand picked to avoid any fruit damage.
The grapes were chilled overnight, whole-bunch pressed, and then fermented in new and used French oak (one third of which was new). The wine was matured for nine months in oak with some lees stirring, then two months in tank on lees prior to bottling.
To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine, which has been prepared by the team at Shaw + Smith, please click on the blue link below.
The M3 opens with aromas of white flowers, grapefruit, and white peach. Notes of brioche and toast add complexity to the elegant fruit. The palate is long and flavoursome, with great texture and bright acidity. Savoury, toasty nuances from the oak are beautifully integrated and linger on the finish.
ABV = 13.0%.
The Murray Darling is the second largest wine region in Australia and the name of two rivers (the Murray and the Darling) which converge in the Murray Darling Basin in New South Wales. Until the 1880's, the region was a dessert, then irrigation opened up the area to agriculture with vines being particularly suited to the climate. Today there are over 30 boutique wineries, such as Deakin Estate, Trentham, Zilzie and Chalmers producing excellent wines as well as top everyday wines.
Spee'Wah is actually shipped to the UK in temperature controlled sealed tanks, then bottled in lighter glass bottles. This not only ensures its quality, but is environmentally friendly and drastically reduces its price on the shelf.
100% Pinot Grigio.
Apples and pears predominate this lovely fresh, dry white wine. The palate stays light, though becomes a little more opulent as the wine opens up with peaches and hints of tropical fruits leading to a clean, dry finish.
Light and crisp with flavours of apples, pears, peaches and tropical fruit.
ABV = 12.5%.
Brian Croser was one of the first Australian winemakers of the modern era to deliberately match grape variety to site. He is adamant that terroir defines fine wine, and that the best way to achieve terroir is to be light-handed in your viticultural approach. All efforts should be concentrated in the vineyards so the correct chemistry and ﬂavour balance on the vines can be achieved.
A committed ‘terroirist’, he believes the concept of terroir is the uncopiable effect of the geology, soil, climate, latitude, longitude, aspect, surrounds, and all other factors affecting the grapes. Quite a checklist to guarantee. In Tapanappa, Brian has established a winery that produces wines from three specific sites, each remarkable for their individuality.
The overriding viticultural principles of the estate are close-spaced, manually pruned and harvested fine wine vineyards. Tiers Vineyard, planted in 1979, was the ﬁrst to be planted in the Adelaide Hills, thus pioneering the cool climate wine industry in South Australia. It is an almost perfect homoclime of Burgundy, mirroring the site south of the Côtes de Beaune which produce stellar Montrachets, and is absolutely suited to Chardonnay.
The tiny 4ha Foggy Hill vineyard on the highest point of the Fleurieu Peninsula, where fog gambols off the Great Southern Ocean, has a much lower diurnal temperature difference than the Piccadilly Valley, making it cooler and more moderate, and therefore ideal for growing Pinot Noir, first harvested here in 2007.
Dating from 1974, the Whalebone vineyard in Wrattonbully is an archeologically unique site due to the presence of a 35 million year old whale skeleton discovered in its limestone soils. Here, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz thrive on a ridge of Oligocene Limestone similar to St. Emilion in Bordeaux.
See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note on this wine from Brian himself.
The varietal aromas are ripe peach and melon. Subtle marzipan and brioche aromas and flavours are contributed by the malolactic, yeast lees contact and oak. A consistent terroir feature of Tiers Chardonnay is its very significant texture followed by a savoury finish and the persistence of the flavours. This Chardonnay will develop spicy honey and brulee characters with bottle age.
ABV = 13.0%.