Awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).
This winery changed hands in May 2016, with one family company, Brown Brothers, taking it off the hands of another, its founder, Phil Sexton. So associated is Innocent Bystander with the Yarra Valley that the new owners made the intelligent decision to build a new winery in Healesville, just across the parking lot from Giant Steps. They quickly signed contracts with all the grape growers that Phil used for Innocent Bystander, so that the style of the wines remains unchanged. This regional and varietal style, reflecting the soil, climate and topography of the cool climate in the Yarra Valley is the base upon which the reputation of Innocent Bystander has been built.
Fruit for this wine was sourced from three of the Innocent Bystander estate vineyards: Sexton, Tarraford and Applejack. This selective approach results in highly expressive wines, true to the regional characteristics of the Yarra Valley.
The 2017 vintage was one of the longest on record, characterised by relatively dry conditions with little disease pressure. Cooler weather also helped the grapes retain good levels of natural acidity. The resulting wines are very elegant.
Fruit was hand picked and whole bunch pressed, with the free-run juice kept separate from the pressings. The free run juice was fermented on solids with no racking or clarification taking place prior to fermentation which used indigenous yeast in new and seasoned French barriques and puncheons. Lees stirring occurred monthly until winter and no malolactic fermentation took place. The wine was lightly fined prior to bottling in February 2017.
This Chardonnay has fresh pear and lemon notes that combine with delicate white flowers. Lovely soft aromas of poached apple and marzipan evolve in the glass. Crisp, fresh and dry on the palate, the wine is tightly sprung then unwinds to reveal a citrus pith texture, wrapped around a fresh stone-fruit core.