About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, August 24, 2007
Chardonnay, In With The New
Back in December 2005, I wrote a piece lamenting the style and direction of Australian chardonnay. In part I wrote...

In making chardonnay, most, but not all Australian winemakers have made a deal with the devil. In order to hurry up the evolution of the wine and increase their sales, they indulge in malolactic fermentation. This legal skullduggery softens the acid in the wine, making it approachable at an earlier age but at a cost to the wine; its soul has been sold. Most Aussie chardonnays reach their peak between one and five years after vintage; it is rare to see a good one after ten years, they mostly just fall apart. Excessive malolactic fermentation also confers a sameness to our chardonnays, all butterscotch and nutty characters, which leads to the subtler characters of the wine being lost.

Australian riesling producers have probably been quite happy about the situation as their revival continues apace, but it seems the ABC brigade (Anything But Chardonnay) have at long last started to have an effect and the chardonnay style in this country has started to be realigned towards a leaner more mineral style with much less malo, allowing chardonnay to show off its more subtle characteristics that were formerly drowned out by butterscotch and nutty flavours. Ironically, the French have looked at their own and started to make theirs a little riper and less austere.

Site selection has been crucial to this with cooler vineyards now in vogue along with better clonal selection and less reliance on oak and malolactic fermentation. These new, sleeker wines leave you wanting more than one glass of wine, which was something the fatter, richer style never did. If you, like me, tired of Australian chardonnay, perhaps it's time to have another look and get a glimpse of the future direction of this variety, which after all, does make some of the greatest wines in the world.

Names to look for include Shaw & Smith from the Adelaide Hills, Bindi from the Macedon Ranges, Oakridge from the Yarra Valley (yes, Oakridge) and Mountadam from Eden Valley, who have also suffered some recent hiccups. If you get the chance, Bindi's sparkling wines are also superb, with a recent bottle, one of the finest Australian sparkling wines I've ever tried.
  posted at 8:24 am

At 1:30 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The ABC brigade ;)) only you Neil! That is so fun.

At 2:01 pm, Blogger kitchen hand said...

So much chardonnay lately has had hints of Sauvignon Blanc that I think there's a tanker out the back of the winery from New Zealand. Or maybe some cats in the vineyard.

Personally I miss the butterscotch style. I loved that big, broad flavour with a nose that hit you from ten feet away and a finish that went on forever. No wonder they used to call it the red wine man's white.

At 2:34 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, wished I could say I thought of it, but it's (ABC) a term that's much bandied about here, probably for some of the reasons outlined.

Hi kitchen hand, well, I do know there's a NZ ship with lots of apples on it...

With the butterscotch, it's possible to have too much of a good thing, so many producers went down that path, but I agree, there is a place for such wines. I don't know if it's the same with you, but I notice the sav blanc thing more with unoaked chardonnay.

At 12:44 pm, Blogger Blue Zebra said...

Neil very nice write up and nice to know of this new direction! Thanks!


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