Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley Chardonnay 2006 $24.95
Pooles Rock Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2005 $29.99
Unlike riesling, which is usually a pure expression of the variety, most top-end chardonnays come gilded with winemaker artefacts: principally the aromas, flavours and textures derived from fermentation and maturation in oak barrels. In the best wines these add-ons meld beautifully with the fruit flavour. The tastiest of these tried lately is Heggies 2006. It’s simply bottle-draining delicious and brings all of these flavour elements seamlessly together. It’s one of those rare wines that lights up the face of everyone with a glass of it in hand. Pooles Rock 2005 is also impressive in its round, soft Hunter way.
Stefano Lubiano Tasmania Pinot Noir 2005 $52
& Tasmania Merlot 2005 $31
Some time back I reviewed Stefano Lubiano’s Primavera Pinot Noir – as the name suggests a fresh and youthful expression of the variety. This is a more sophisticated drop, showing the depth of a superior vintage with ripe varietal definition, layered, soft tannin structure and complexity. It’s a wine that intrigues and holds your interest from first sip til last and ought to develop with five or six years bottle age. Lubiana’s merlot is a pleasant surprise – something we might expect out of St Emilion or Pomerol, but not the banks of the Derwent. For sure it’s taut and elegant, but there’s no sign of unripeness or hard tannins – just plummy varietal character with taut, savoury tannins.
Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2005 $50 to $55
This wine looked magnificent at a recent tasting run by Rob and Kay Howell of Jeir Creek Winery. Eileen began in 1986 as a fairly big, short-lived, oaky white sourced from Padthaway, at the time probably the coolest region growing appreciable volumes of chardonnay. It was typical of wines of the time and one of the leading examples, too. Eileen’s sourcing followed the best chardonnay plantings, heading further south and to higher altitudes in the ensuing years to mature as a fine, potentially long-lived style this decade. The current release, a Tumbarumba-Tasmania blend, has — in its intense, delicious fruit flavours, complex barrel-related complexities and taut structure – more than an echo of the great French white Burgundies on which it is modelled.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007