Category Archives: Australian Chardonnay

Aug 08 2016

How wild yeast fermentation helps to create a sense of place

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By

Have you recently had a glass of white wine that was a little cloudy in appearance or had a bit of funky nose? But on tasting it impressed you with its richness, complexity of flavours and palate length? Chances are you were drinking a wine that was fermented with wild yeast.

Using wild yeast for fermentation is a growing trend. While most of the big commercial wineries still prefer to use a cultured strain of yeast isolated for its desirable fermentation characteristics and reliable results, boutique wineries have not been afraid to embrace the risks of wild yeast fermentation.

Recent New Zealand research shows that yeasts are territorial and vary according to place. Intuitively this makes sense. The vegetation and surrounding air contains hundreds of strains of yeasts, and the types of strains are determined by the fruit, flowers, soils, trees and grasses in the local area. Consequently, winemakers interested in making wines that express their ‘terroir’ or sense of place believe that fermenting the fruit with wild yeasts helps to impart the wine with a character that is unique to where the fruit was grown.

Of course, wild yeast is only one of several ingredients that gives a wine its special character. Other elements like vineyard location, soil composition, vine maturity, farming practices and winemaking techniques all contribute to the expression of a sense of place.

In an article about wild yeasts, wine critic Huon Hooke singled out the acclaimed Cullen’s Kevin John Chardonnay 2011 as one of the best examples of a wine that has undergone a wild yeast fermentation: “This was slightly feral and very exciting. It lives dangerously. Biodynamically grown and wild fermented, it’s a pioneer and benchmark of the genre. It’s so complex it’s difficult to describe, although honey and oak and what I call ‘balsamic’ (like the smell of balsamic vinegar, without the vinegar or sweetness) aromas are all involved, welded to a razor-sharp, crisply tart, long and linear palate structure.” (Winemakers turn to wild fermentation, Good Living,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2016

Newcomer Cloudburst generates extraordinary excitement!

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By

In 2013 the Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 caused a major upset at the Margaret River Wine Show. The relative newcomer – 2010 was in fact the first vintage of the cabernet sauvignon – claimed trophies for best cabernet sauvignon, best single-vineyard red and best red wine of show, beating out a host of well established and famous wineries.

And the accolades have kept mounting! Here’s a recent assessment from wine critic Huon Hooke of a sampling of the last three vintages of Cloudburst cabernets,.. [Read More]

Jul 07 2016

Leeuwin Estate Masterclass with Winemaker Phil Hutchison

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By

Recently the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown singled out “eight stellar” Western Australia producers “who are killing-it when it comes to innovation, quality and coaxing the terroir into the bottle: Cloudburst, Cullen, Frankland Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood, Peccavi, Plantagenet and Woodlands.” (Western Australia Killing-it, 4 March 2016,

Of course, to see Margaret River pioneer Leeuwin Estate on this list is no surprise. Still owned by its founders Denis and Tricia Horgan and now under the direction of their children and grandchildren,.. [Read More]

Nov 11 2015

Masterclass: Billy Button and Mayford Wines – Putting the Alpine Valleys Region on the Map

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By

Two very talented winemakers, Jo Marsh of Billy Button and Eleana Anderson of Mayford, are neighbours and good friends in the beautiful Alpine Valleys wine region, an area that covers the foothills of the Victorian alps and borders with King Valley to the west and Beechworth to the north. Last week the pair shared the stage at a very interesting masterclass at Different Drop in Pyrmont.

We were welcomed with a glass of the 2015 Billy Button ‘The Torment’.. [Read More]

Nov 11 2015

James Suckling Announces his Top 100 Wines of 2015

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By

You know the holiday season is fast approaching when the world’s top wine critics start announcing their top wines of the year.  The team at tasted an astonishing 9,000 wines, and Suckling himself tried 7,500. With the exception of Champagne, Australia and New Zealand, which are covered for the website by Australian wine critic Nick Stock, Suckling reviews wines from all over the world and in 2015 travelled to wine regions in France, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Spain, and the United States!

The list of his top 10 wines in 2015 is an interesting compilation because to come up with the rankings,.. [Read More]

Nov 11 2015

Masterclass: Creating a Sense of Place – The Lane Vineyard, Adelaide Hills

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By

You know a winery is serious about “terroir” when they print the Google Earth coordinates of the particular block each wine comes from on the front label!

The Lane Vineyard, arguably the Adelaide Hills’ most picturesque vineyard, prides itself on creating wines that display their sense of place.

And it’s a very special place indeed!

Last year John Edwards, who founded the winery with his wife Helen, reminisced about their decision 22 years ago to buy a 70 ha cattle grazing property high in the Adelaide Hills overlooking the Onkaparinga Valley: “We’re so blessed to have bought this block rather than the one across the road… [Read More]

Feb 02 2015

Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2012 makes list of top 50 Australian Wines

Posted on February 02, 2015 | By

Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2012 was one of four Penfolds wines to make the Top 50 Australian wines of 2014, a list recently put together by wine critic Nick Stock for (Tasting Report: Nick’s 50 Best Australian Wines of 2014, 5 February 2015,

The 2010 Penfolds Grange took the number one spot, the Penfolds St Henri 2010 came in fifth, the Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 came in seventh and the Yattarna 2012 occupied 12th place… [Read More]

Feb 02 2015

Decanter Magazine names Australia’s Top 4 Chardonnays

Posted on February 02, 2015 | By

Decanter Magazine recently conducted a blind tasting to come up with a list of the “Best Chardonnays in the world (outside Burgundy).” Nominated for consideration by top wine critics were the finest chardonnays from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. 80 wines in total were tasted. (The Best Chardonnays in the world (outside Burgundy) by Stephen Brook, Decanter Magazine, March 2015)

While the Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 from New Zealand was crowned “Wine of the Tasting,”.. [Read More]

Jan 01 2014

Marchand & Burch Chardonnay: Burgundy comes to the Great Southern!

Posted on January 01, 2014 | By

One of the most exciting developments in the Australian wine industry over the past 10 to 15 years has been the emergence of new regions and/or sub-regions making great wine. In a previous post, Great Southern, WA: The New Centre for Australian Riesling?, I discussed how the Great Southern region of Western Australia is displaying fantastic potential for riesling and perhaps even starting to close the gap in terms of quality with its better known Clare and Eden Valley peers in South Australia!

If reviews for the Marchand &.. [Read More]

Sep 09 2013

50 Wines to Try in 2013: Lake’s Folly Hill Block Chardonnay 2012

Posted on September 09, 2013 | By

In answer to a reader’s question, “If I crave that old-school, rich, buttery chardonnay, where can I get my fix?” the Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Jane Skilton MW highlighted two good examples from NSW’s Hunter Valley, the Scarborough White Label Chardonnay and the Oakvale Reserve Chardonnay.

You may have guessed that the reason for the reader’s question is the recent dearth of ripe, rich buttery chardonnays in Australia. As Skilton notes “the current vogue is for winemakers to explore a tighter, more restrained style of chardonnay that has much more discreet oak and subtle malolactic characters.”.. [Read More]