It's International Chardonnay Day this Thursday, 27th May

May 20, 2021

In honour of International Chardonnay Day, we asked journalist, writer and Spice Mistress Sarina Kamini to speak to some of the region's best winemakers and round up their favourite Chardonnays (when they're not drinking their own). You can follow more of Sarina's musings over on her Instagram, @sarina_kamini.

Ask any Margaret River region winemaker what makes this patch of landscape so suited to Chardonnay and each will offer their own version of a story driven by two central narratives - geography and climate: granite and gneiss rock undercarriage, steady climate, cool winds and pristine water supplies.

Tim Lovett, Senior Winemaker Leeuwin Estate:

Tell us your favourite Leeuwin Estate vintage?

"The 2013 Art Series Chardonnay is pristine and precise. This vintage is so youthful and full of energy given its age, and more importantly still in its infancy. Lemon curd, finger limes and grapefruit meet with brioche, nougat and sesame on the nose. There is a notable and alluring spice thread showing with age in the spectrum of cinnamon quill, black cardamom pod and chamomile. Concentration and delicate complexity are the hallmarks that feature aromatically. This wine has impeccable shape and frame."

And who do you drink when you’re not at home?

“There’s way too many to choose from… From Australia, I love the Chardonnays coming out of Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley at the moment. Chief Winemaker Steve Flamsteed (aka Flamo) is an absolute superstar and epic guy! All his wines represent who he is. Particularly, I love his 2018 Giant Steps Wombat Creek Chardonnay – alluring flint and sulphide hide between a great core of cut lime, lemon and grapefruit core. Then this beautiful mineral thread that is in symmetry with the acid line on the palate and an almost talc chalk like finish. Epic!”

Julian Langworthy, Chief Winemaker Deep Woods Estate:

Tell us your favourite Deep Woods Estate vintage?

“The 2017 Deep Woods Reserve Chardonnay. It was a cool, quite steady vintage and the wines are pristine with great purity and wonderful length of acid. I find this wine effortlessly complex but hugely enjoyable with lovely minerality, but great power and generosity on the palate. A bottle of this and roast chicken and a Sunday evening and life doesn’t get much better.”

And who do you drink when you’re not at home?

“I love and bought quite a bit of the 2018 Tollpuddle from Tasmania and loved it when judging at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, when it when best wine of show a couple of years ago. Great old vineyard made by the crack team of Shaw and Smith - it’s poised and super complex.”

Brad Wehr, Winemaker and Owner Amato Vino:

Tell us your favourite Amato Vino vintage?

“Our current Muse Chardonnay is the 2017 vintage. The Muse is only made every few years when I get especially excited about particular individual barrels. The 2017 was a two-barrel selection - one new barrel, one aged; one made from Clone 95 grapes, the other from Mendoza (GinGin). It’s a bond of spicy, perfumed aromatics and tropical fruit grunt. High notes and bass together. Pretty, delicate, yet with restrained power and drive. We made 48 dozen and I reckon I’ve already drunk five of them. I need to sell some before I drink the rest.”

And who do you drink when you’re not at home?

“My answer to this question hasn’t changed over the years. I was first introduced to wine via a weekend job at Leeuwin Estate many years ago. Not a bad start to my working life to be drinking Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay on the deck of one of the most spectacular amphitheatres in the wine world. I love the way it is so recognisable year in year out. I love

the generosity, the richness and fine, fleshy fruit. I love the fact they didn’t fall heavily into the contemporary notion of high acid, low intensity Chardonnay currently made by many in Margaret River. They mostly stuck to their style and you just can’t beat it.”

Luke Joliffe, Chief Winemaker Stella Bella

Tell us your favourite Stella Bella vintage?

“The 2017 is currently my favourite vintage of my Chardonnay that I love. Weather conditions were super cool, flavours more in the citrus spectrum and acids built for longevity and loads of flavour. Also, it was the first year we stopped filtering our Chardonnays to let them sing as loud as they can. The 2019 is another cool year and could surpass it….. will wait and see.”

And who do you drink when you’re not at home?

“My favourite Chardonnay to drink that isn’t my own is probably the Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay. Super consistent and a style that I love. Powerful but doesn’t show it. Like a velvet sledgehammer in your mouth – ha! Also like Chablis a lot. The 2017 William Fevre Chablis ticks all boxes for price and quality from a great year.”

Nicolas Peterkin, Winemaker and Owner L.A.S. Vino

Tell us your favourite L.A.S. Vino vintage?

The 2015 St Mary’s Jerusalem Chardonnay is my favourite vintage so far, for its structure, flavour and the vineyard which hadn’t been picked in eight years. Also the yet to be released skin contact Chardonnay - Sun On Your Skin- is my new favourite. Tasting it from tank its a really unique expression of Margaret River Chardonnay.”

Nic Peterkin sorting grapes. Picture by Ryan Murphy.

And who do you drink when you’re not at home?

Favourite Chardonnay to drink that isn’t my own label is probably my dad’s Pierro Chardonnay. It ticks a lot of boxes. Outside the family, I once had bottle of the Pyramid Valley Chardonnay from NZ at a friend’s house who was the sommelier at il Lido. Hot dang, it was / is a seriously impressive wine.” 

Joanne and Chris Davies, Winemaker and Owner Windows Estate

Tell us your favourite Windows Estate vintage?

“From the wines that we have made, 2017 and 2019 are stand outs for us. These were two of the coolest years on our farm and have produced Chardonnay with precision, purity, balance and complexity. They are the two vintages that we feel are the best representations of our site, they have the most stunning fruit intensity that builds on the palate, the minerality reflects the granite, clay and quartz soils in which the vines are grown, and they finish with a slight sea salt character, revealing our close proximity to the ocean.”

And who do you drink when you’re not at home?

“It would have to be a Chardonnay from Domaine Paul Pillot (Burgundy). His wines are hard to get hold of, but the purity of the family’s wines is just outstanding, they are a true reflection of the site and are inimitable. They are produced with a light hand in the winery, and focus and intent in the vineyard, a philosophy that we share.”

May 20, 2021
Cabin Fever Festival takes place on Wadandi Boodja. Festival management acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and play, and ask you to tread lightly and with respect when you’re enjoying Cabin Fever events.

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