The RedtoBrown Wine Review appreciates a nice bottle of Chardonnay. This noble grape is on the upswing, following the Kath and Kim ‘Cardonnay’ backlash and the seemingly irresistible rise of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. Part of this renewed interest in Chardonnay is a result of some very nice leaner (some might say meaner) examples entering the market that have countered the sunshine in a bottle stereotype. Personally, I am just as enthusiastic and excited by what I would term the ‘evolved’ style of chardonnay in Australia that balances robust but controlled fruit flavours with intelligent use of oak (good quality, and a smaller percentage of it new).
In recent years, TarraWarra Estate under winemaker Clare Halloran has produced several examples of this relatively lighter, balanced style of chardonnay. The wines Red and I have tried in the past have been generous, though not overwhelming, flavoursome yet structured.
On 22 June this year we were lucky enough to try two of the TarraWarra Estate Reserve Chardonnays at the TarraWarra Cellar Club Dinner. Tasting notes, Face-Off style are below:
2004 Reserve Chardonnay (13.4% abv, $60 rrp)
Red: A lovely Chardonnay that is drinking at its peak now. It has a generous Chardonnay nose, with some nice nuttiness. Time has seen this wine develop a beautiful richness on the palate and it was perfect with a rich chicken dish. If I’m nitpicking I felt the spicy oak has never quite truly integrated with the fruit, but ultimately this doesn’t detract from the enjoyment that it delivers. 4 stars
Brown: The 2004 is drinking very nicely indeed. There is some evident oak on the finish, though it does not detract from the evolving fruit flavours and developed rich creamy texture. Having enjoyed a magnum of the 1998 Reserve a full 11 years after release, I would not be surprised if the 2004 is still drinking well in several years time. In saying that, it is near its peak (for my tastes), so personally, I would be drinking up.
91Pts/ 4 Stars
2008 Reserve Chardonnay (13.4% abv, $60 rrp)
Red: This is an impressive Chardonnay that I think will rival the great 05 given time. It’s still reasonably tight, but everything is there. Lovely grapefruit. Lovely spicy oak. Just enough creaminess to let you know where it’s going with time. Great structure and length. Everything in balance. It provides plenty of satisfaction right now, but give it a few more years and it will take things up another notch again. A beautiful Yarra Valley Chardonnay. 4 Stars ++
Brown: The 2008 Reserve is made in a familiar TarraWarra Estate style: a style as noted in the introduction that I am a fan of. It has youthful power, balancing grapefruit and lemon pith fruit flavours with cashew nut creaminess, French oak-driven spice and fresh acidity. It is easy to drop the ‘B’ word (balance) in relation to this wine. The wine is not flabby, rather fitting its suit snugly; it is a relatively youthful wine that is drinking well now, but will clearly develop further flavour, complexity and texture. In 2013/14 it will be crying out for some oven roasted chicken to accompany it. 93pts/4 stars