If you've ever opened a bottle of Penfolds' Yattarna Chardonnay, the chances are you've enjoyed the pristine fruit from the Derwent Estate Vineyard. Chardonnay has been purchased by Penfolds from the Hanigans (owners) for the past 10 vintages.
Having walked the fence-line of this vineyard, I still rate it the most beautiful piece of dirt in Australia for growing grapes. Sitting on the hill above a bend in the Derwent River, the property is (ideally) north-facing, and gentle breezes off the river and the west keep air-flow at optimum for growing cool-climate grapes.
The 2014 Derwent Estate Chardonnay was tried in a line up of esteemed and often celebrated company. Not only was it the standout wine, it also happened to be the cheapest - and by some margin. The panel was compelled to re-visit, and re-visit this wine - such was its balance and level of complexity rarely found in a wine of this price.
It sits very happily in the realm of Chablis - lean and sensitively oaked - there's delicacy and power all at once. Winemaking shows the utmost respect for the fruit resource. It's softly textured and driven by perfectly ripe chardonnay fruit and an elevated acid line. It's a wine that will evolve and blossom over the next 5-8 years.
We've tried $100 chardonnays that don't deliver this quality.
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He's a terrific communicator. His words are measured, as are his scores out of 100. It's why, when Campbell rates wines I tend to seek them out.
I tried the wines of Mitchell Harris when they unleashed their first babies in 2008.
At that time, I'd just opened the Union Bank Wine Store in Orange, NSW. I was looking for wines that celebrated the regions from which they came, and producers who understood and appreciated the importance of quality focused, (V)independent retail stores.