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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > NEW WORLD: Chardonnay Australia

Winner Details

New World: Chardonnay, Australia

2016 Gold: 4 Silver: 4 Bronze: 5 Commended: 6
2015 Gold: 4 Silver: 8 Bronze: 5 Commended: 8

Watching the rebirth of Australian Chardonnay has been one of the plus points of this competition over the past five or six years. The disappearance of over-sweet tropical fruit and too much oak, and the appearance of fresher, more mineral styles has met with a growing chorus of approval from our tasters.

Moreover, what started as something of an oddity has now become an established style. Few of our judges were surprised to find leaner expressions of Chardonnay here, and the vast majority of them were delighted with what was in front of them. It was good, too, to see such a geographical spread of top medals – everywhere from Tasmania to Margaret River to Eden Valley and Victoria.

But (and there’s nearly always a ‘but’ in these matters) a few gentle caveats were also raised about the fact that some customers still, you know, actually like those richer, sweeter styles and might be somewhat confused to order an Aussie Chard, expecting a glass of something that tastes like Del Monte pineapple juice, only to be met with a neo Chablis acid-fest. Worth bearing in mind.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The Margaret River flight were good wines. They were expensive, but they stood up to their price point, and they were true to the region.’ Jade Koch, team leader

‘The good wines are expensive but affordable.’ Charlie Young, Vinoteca

‘There was good variation. Some had a lot of oak, but there were more delicate wines as well. It did raise the question of what you want from Australian Chardonnay.’ Ian Howard, The White Hart Inn at Lydgate

‘From Australia, you want punchy fruit and creaminess, and you had that most of the time here. There’s a definite market in our place for wines at that £60-£70 level on a list.’ Timothy Connor, Bread Street Kitchen

‘There was some really good stuff here. The quality to price and freshness were very good for the money. The Australians have found a good style for themselves here I think.’ Carlos Ferreira, The Sign of the Don

‘I like both styles of Australian Chardonnay – the richer and the leaner. There’s definitely a case for saying that Australia can do both styles well. The problem would be the nasty confected wines – which they can occasionally slip into as well.’ Laura Rhys MS, team leader

‘There were issues of sulphur with quite a few of these. Australia should be past that.’ James Fryer, Portland

“There’s still a movement away from Chardonnay in the north. If they want it, people generally look for that more Chablis-like style.” Ian Howard, The White Hart Inn at Lydgate

“None of the wines were over-oaked and if you’d tasted them 10 years ago they might have been.” Charlie Young, Vinoteca

“I have some clients who do actively look for Australian Chardonnay, but it’s generally the cheaper, more fruit-driven styles that they want, not the expensive ambitious wines.” Tamas Czinki, Northcote

Award winners

Found 19 wines

New World: Chardonnay, Australia

Giant Steps, Yarra Valley, Chardonnay, 2015, Victoria , Australia

Gold medal winner

'Expressive' and 'very focused' according to The Clove Club's Sam Heathcote, Giant Steps Gold Lister was 'ripe yet not sweet, with well-handled oak, a generous mouthfeel and a very persistent finish'. Consultant sommelier Emily Bonsor found this a 'more savoury style with good tropical flavours', while Portland's James Fryer enjoyed its 'subtle white peach, pear and quince nose, rich apricot and stone fruit palate with some notes of wheat and oak spice'.

£14.00 Liberty Wines

Langmeil, High Road, Chardonnay, 2014, Eden Valley, South Australia , Australia

Gold medal winner

Flinty elegance allied with balanced oak complexity and a long finish gave Langmeil Gold. 'Plenty of fruit on the palate and energetic acidity balancing the oak influence,' said Timothy Connor of Bread Street Kitchen. 'Approachable style with bright, juicy fruit and integrated oak,' added team leader Laura Rhys MS.

£9.15 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Burch Family Wines, Howard Park, Miamup, Chardonnay, 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Gold medal winner

Depth and balance made this a stand-out, with its lemon and lime aromas, and soft tropical fruits and lightly spiced palate. 'Complex, attractive nose, nice flowing acidity, fresh and genuinely enjoyable,' began Vinoteca's Charlie Young, with team leader Jade Koch adding: 'Rich, buttery and juicy, with elegant, breezy minerality. Enticing, bright and engaging.'

£12.20 Enotria&Coe

Fraser Gallop, Parterre, Chardonnay, 2013, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

'Classy' came the comment from Gold List coordinator Christine Parkinson. No wonder it picked up a Critics' Choice Trophy. Team leader Jade Koch found 'butter, banana and butterscotch' on the nose, commenting: 'Juicy and alive, with crunchy fruit character on the palate, coupled with moreish and elegant minerality.' 'Pure, mineral, classy nose. Intense, long, great integration and quality,' confirmed Vinoteca's Charlie Young.

£16.22 Bibendum Wine

Tolpuddle, Chardonnay, 2014, Tasmania , Australia

Silver medal winner

'Well made, quite bready with a leesy mid-palate and good poise on the finish,' began Chris Wood of Chelsea Vintners, with Ian Howard of The White Hart Inn at Lydgate noting 'balanced fruit and oak, with good, crisp citrus and green apple fruit'.

£25.00 Liberty Wines

Accolade Wines, Hardys, HRB, Chardonnay, 2014, Pemberton/Margaret River/Adelaide Hills , Australia

Silver medal winner

Consultant sommelier Emily Bonsor noted 'intense oak on the nose', enjoying its 'tropical, buttery, zesty yumminess and lovely mouthfeel', while MIchael Fiducia of Drake's Restaurant highlighted its 'warm brioche aromas with a light prickle on a rounded palate'.

£15.04 Matthew Clark

Josef Chromy, Chardonnay, 2014, Tasmania , Australia

Silver medal winner

'Good fruit intensity with nice elegance, freshness and polished oak,' began team leader Laura Rhys MS, with The Sign of the Don's Carlos Ferreira noting 'citrus with tropical fruits, good balance and a little spice'.

£14.58 Bibendum Wine

Penfolds, Bin 311, Chardonnay, 2014, Tumbarumba, New South Wales , Australia

Silver medal winner

'Fresh peach and apricot nose, elegant with some nice oak,' began team leader Tom Forrest, adding: 'Soft stone fruits and tropical character on the palate with a mineral core and fresh lemon and pineapple on the finish.'

£33.65 Bibendum Wine

Dandelion Vineyards, Twilight of The Adelaide Hills, Chardonnay, 2014, South Australia , Australia

Bronze medal winner

'Cooler-climate style,' began Northcote's Tamas Czinki, continuing: 'Showing flowers, peach, honeydew melon and moderate oak, with delicate fruit and a medium finish.' 'Light tropical nose with a refreshingly fruity palate,' agreed Michael Fiducia of Drake's Restaurant.

£7.00 Liberty Wines

Larry Cherubino, Ad Hoc, Hen & Chicken, Chardonnay, 2014, Pemberton, Western Australia , Australia

Bronze medal winner

'Crisp and well-rounded, good stone fruit flavours with moderate acidity and buttery oak,' said Ian Howard of The White Hart Inn at Lydgate, with Chris Wood of Chelsea Vintners noting its 'interesting leesy character'.

£11.45 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Fowles Wine, Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch, Chardonnay, 2014, Victoria , Australia

Bronze medal winner

'A more delicate style with nice peach and nectarine fruit, green apple notes on the palate and balanced oak,' said Ian Howard of The White Hart Inn at Lydgate. 'Elegant, restrained, bright citrus and lively acidity,' added team leader Laura Rhys MS.

£17.40 Enotria&Coe

Vasse Felix, Chardonnay, 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Bronze medal winner

Alexandru Pastrav of Fenchurch Sky Garden was taken with this 'outstanding' example, noting: 'Amazing nose, really intense aromas of white and ripe exotic fruits. On the palate it is vibrant, with well-integrated oak and a long finish.'

£11.31 Negociants

Rathbone Wine Group, Xanadu, Exmoor Drive, Chardonnay, 2013, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Bronze medal winner

'Textbook Aussie Chardonnay with bright acid and apple fruit,' began team leader Jade Koch, with Vinoteca's Charlie Young adding: 'Elegant, touch of oak, good intensity and balance, with apple and peach flavours.'

£9.18 Bibendum Wine

Bellvale, Athena's Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2012, Gippsland, Victoria , Australia

Commended medal winner

Shaw & Smith, M3, Chardonnay, 2014, Adelaide Hills, South Australia , Australia

Commended medal winner

£16.40 Liberty Wines

Katnook Estate , Founders Block, Chardonnay, 2014, Coonawarra, South Australia , Australia

Commended medal winner

Voyager Estate, Chardonnay, 2012, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Commended medal winner

Amelia Park , Chardonnay, 2013, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Commended medal winner

Hay Shed Hill, Chardonnay, 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia , Australia

Commended medal winner

£13.10 Bancroft Wines