Sorrenberg produce near enough my favourite Australian Chardonnay. I was particularly interested, however, to see what the 2011 looked like, given that it was a very cold and wet vintage in Beechworth. Langton’s have described it as an “awful vintage” in Beechworth, while two of the leading producers, Castagna and Savaterre, have produced little if any wine from 2011.
Of course, one of my learnings over the years is that from so-called awful vintages come some stunning wines occasionally. While most wineries in a region may struggle in a given vintage, there are often a couple of wineries that have not only been very diligent in the vineyard during a tough season, but have also had a bit of luck in terms of avoiding the worst of the conditions that their neighbours down the road experienced. I’d suggest this has what happened with Sorrenberg as they have produced yet another superb Chardonnay.
This is not to say the vintage hasn’t left its mark, for in relative terms it has less fruit volume and more prominent acidity than previous years, but it’s still first and foremost a Sorrenberg Chardonnay. Winemaker Barry Morey always puts his Chardonnay through 100% malolactic fermentation, a decent percentage of new oak, as well as some less stirring. The key thing with this type of treatment, however, is that the fruit from Sorrenberg is always up to the task. The 2011 has some lovely creamy cashew notes, along with some stone fruit flavours, but this generosity and creaminess is offset by the steely lime juice streak that runs its long length, and a quartz-like minerality. Over the course of 3 days it came together beautifully, with the fruit fleshing out and integrating with the acidity. It’s another beautiful Chardonnay from Sorrenberg, but definitely one that you need to leave in the cellar for the next couple of years. Of course there's the rub, for Sorrenberg is one of the few Australian Chardonnay producers still using cork. Cellaring their wine means running the Chardonnay cork lottery, something I’m typically loathe to do, but I make an occasional exception, and Sorrenberg is one of them.
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