Wine review — De Bortoli, Cullen and Penfolds

De Bortoli

  • Windy Peak Victoria Chardonnay 2010 $11.40–$16
  • Gulf Station Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2010 $13.20–$20

Our top chardonnay makers, including De Bortoli, long ago moved away from the fat and oaky old-fashioned styles. In this vibrant, delicious pair, from Leanne De Bortoli and Steve Webber, we taste chardonnay as good as it gets in the middle price bracket. Windy Peak – sourced from various Victorian regions, including the King and Yarra Valleys – is the softer of the two, in a subtle, taut but generous way. In Gulf Station, high acidity accentuates the lean, citrusy varietal flavour teasing its way through the richly textured, bone-dry palate. Both wines drink well now, but I expect the Gulf Station to gain complexity over the next 3–4 years.

Cullen Kevin John Margaret River Chardonnay 2009 $75–$105
Penfolds Yattarna Derwent Valley Chardonnay 2008 $72–$130

We move from two really nice chardonnays to a sublime pair – one from a tiny producer, the other from the massive Treasury Wine Estates. Yattarna, a blend of the best material available to Penfolds in any season, comes in warm 2008 mainly from the Derwent Valley. The cool origins show in the delicacy and intense grapefruit-like varietal flavour underpinning this superb white. Sipping away, the fine texture and subtle, barrel derived complexities gradually reveal their presence. Cullens, from three separate blocks on the family vineyard, presents melon and citrus varietal flavours on a wonderfully, bright, complex, deeply layered palate.

Cullen Margaret River Red 2009 $20
Vanya Cullen’s impressive $20 blend of merlot, malbec and petit verdot weighs in at just 12 per cent alcohol – yet tastes fully ripe. The healthy soils, and consequent healthy vines (probably a result of biodynamic management), have much to do with this ability to achieve ripe flavours at low sugar levels. The medium-bodied wine features high-toned red-berry aromas and a lively palate reflecting these same berry flavours. Vanya says merlot and malbec comprise the majority of the blend, making it fleshy and supple. It must be the petit verdot, then, providing the farewell tweak of austere, savoury tannin.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011