Tasting T3.3 Australia & New Zealand Chardonnay

Rather than doing a big introduction for this tasting, I decided I would rather you took some time to read about the Estates below. I have put which countries they are from and you can read more about them below. Just to say quickly, Australia and New Zealand are two of the best countries in the world to produce excellent, value for money, Chardonnay wines.

The Wineries are:

Neudorf Vineyards – New Zealand

Tim and Jude planted the first vines in Neudorf in 1978. They wanted to make wines of integrity and utilise the terroir to the best of their ability. They quite literally built their first production room using an old barn and milling two macrocarpa trees. They planted many different varieties in order to find out which ones best suited their soils. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris stuck. Thus the estate was established and ever since then they have produced great quality wines at some really affordable prices.

Mac Forbes - Australia

Created in 2004 by Mac himself he wasted absolutely no time in production and produced the first vintage in 2005. All of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling were produced. In 2011 they moved to whole bunch pressing and in 2012 they moved to cork closures for their single vineyard wines. Throughout the last 19 years Mac is at pains to point out that the winery has evolved dramatically. Moving from different cork/cap closures to then changing their vinification practices to also purchasing new vineyards that perhaps 10 years ago were considered too difficult for vine growing. It honestly sounds like something changes nearly every year here and yet the quality of his wines have continued to shine with purity and expression of place key.

Kumeu River Wines – New Zealand

The Brajkovich family emigrated from Croatia to New Zealand in 1937 and saved as much money as they could to purchase a small property in Kumeu with a very small vineyard. Over the years they tended to the vines and planted more and more. In 1957 Maté met his wife Melba and during the 1960’s had four children. Michael, Marijana, Milan and Paul who all now work at the prestigious Kumeu River Wines. They brought the estate national recognition and with that it gained an incredible reputation as one of the best across the world. Using a Burgundian method to make their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, they absolutely excel in the cool climate of New Zealand. This is a top top producer and readers would do well to grab some of their wines when they can.

Deep Woods Estate - Australia

Established in 1987 with the vines being planted that year as well. In 2005 the Fogarty family purchased this estate and brought it under ownership of the Fogarty Wine Group. This is one of Margaret River’s most awarded and highly recognized wineries. The Chief Winemaker is Julian Langworthy and his philosophy utilises both traditional and modern winemaking techniques. Based in Yallingup Hills the terroir here is very unique with deep, sandy gravel over clay with lots of maritime influence from the coast. Having put a lot of effort into the vineyards the estate is now sustainably certified and both their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines have benefitted as they have both secured awards at prestigious tastings.

Felton Road – New Zealand

Purchased by Nigel Greening in 2000, Felton Road has become synonymous with quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from New Zealand. However, their Riesling has also been receiving lots of plaudits over the years. All vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically. Head winemaker Blair Walter has had significant success in both Oregon and Burgundy and came over to Felton Road to get the best out of the vines that he could. Most people would argue that it definitely worked. Felton Road produce some of the best Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy and both their Chardonnay and Riesling wines are right up there.

Yabby Lake - Australia

During the mid-1990’s the Kirby family found the best parcel of land in Teurong, Victoria, Australia. This is the Mornington Peninsula region. After careful planning and mapping the vineyards was planted in 1998. This Estates main aim is to focus on purity and wines that provide a clear insight into where they are grown and where they come from. Surrounded on three sides by the sea this region has a true maritime climate. Perfect ‘Indian Summer’ conditions are nearly always met which aids with long ripening and producing concentrated fruit with high natural acidity and fine tannins.

Tonight’s tasters are David, Harry, Kim & Jen.

Neudorf Home Block Moutere 2020

Hand-harvested, wild fermentation and malolactic fermentation in 15% new oak the rest in old oak. 3 months on fine lees in stainless steel tank.

Note: Peaches, vanilla, butter, serious stone fruits. Concentration of flavour here is great. Baked apples, exotic on the palate with mango and pineapple coming through. Medium-full bodied with layers of fruit bursting through and great complexity. Really good structure with great longevity on the palate and really long, lingering finish. This is broad, fruit driven and rich. Really great wine, acidity is gorgeous and offers lovely freshness throughout.

Mac Forbes Woori Yallock 2019

Destemmed and crushed before pressing. Wild yeast with maturation of 9 months in small old oak barrels.

Note: This is very Chablis-esque. Mineral, clean and pure. Apples, citrus with a hints of stone fruits. Gorgeous minerality on the palate with a creamy and luscious body, vanilla nicely coming through with those citrus notes. Good stone fruit notes coming through now with lots of vivacity and liveliness. Medium length on the finish and really easy to drink. A good wine, drinking great now and will certainly evolve for another 5-7 years.

Kumeu River Coddington 2019

Hand-harvested and whole-bunch pressed. Barrel fermentation with malolactic fermentation as well. 11 months maturation in bottle.

Note: Baked apples, brioche, yeast and citrus. Creamy and luscious with a powerful, fruit driven body. Really linear and bold with lots of concentration of flavour. The body is really broad and powerful with great depth. There is elegance and great purity with a really long and lingering finish. Drinking nicely now and will age gracefully over the next 8-10 years.

Deep Woods Estate Reserve 2019

Hand-harvested with whole bunch pressing. Wild fermentation with both new and old French oak. Aged on lees for nine months.

Note: Stone fruits, apples with some earthy and slight hay notes. Creamy, thick (cc) and luscious on the palate with an excellent fruit forward body. There are plenty of stone fruits, baked apples and hints of mango and lychee across the mouth. Lively, bold and broad, really expressive and clean. Lovely long finish with gorgeous acidity and citrus towards the end. Drinking beautifully now and will age really well for the next 5-8 years.

Felton Road Block 2 2016

Fermentation from wild or indigenous yeasts (unsure which honestly). Old oak barrels are used for ageing with malolactic fermentation taking place.

Note: Stone fruits, apples, citrus, pears, vanilla and butter… what a combination. Gorgeously rounded and thick on the palate. Excellent baked apples, butter and vanilla notes. Bold, expressive and really concentrated. Lots of power, great fruit and just long and broad. The balance is great, well-rounded and structured. Really impressive and drinking so well now. Will certainly evolve gracefully over the next 8 years easy.

Yabby Lake Block 6 2015

Note: Stone fruits, baked apples, citrus and vanilla. Lovely, creamy and rich on the body. Lots of great flavour with peaches, apricots, butter and vanilla all just gorgeous. Powerful and dense on the mid-palate with great, long acidity adding freshness and vibrancy. Really enjoyable with a well-rounded body and great structure. Drinking beautifully now and will continue to evolve over the next 5-8 years.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill 2013

Hand-harvested and whole-bunch pressed. Barrel fermentation with malolactic fermentation as well. 11 months maturation in bottle.

Note: This is the closest we have come to a Burgundian / Meursault style Chardonnay. Gorgeous stone fruits with baked apples, vanilla and brioche. So damn powerful with such richness and depth of flavour on the palate. This is broad, expressive and extremely developed. The structure is perfect with a well-rounded and broad body. Balance and exquisite, this is so impressive. Fresh, vibrant, powered and concentrated fruit. Sublime and drinking perfectly now, will certainly cellar well for another 5 years.


As we conclude, realistically, these are some of the best Chardonnay wines you will get out of Australia and New Zealand for value for money. I know that is a big statement, but I think the tasting notes (and scores below) speak for themselves. These were unctuous, bold and pure, fruit driven wines that excel with age and also can be drunk early. All estates here deserve some serious recognition for the work that they have put in to get to this point. I really would recommend any of these wines to any Chardonnay lovers. They are not overly oaked (in fact far from it) and are just sublime.  

The scores:

Home Block Moutere 2020 – 92 Points

Woori Yallock 2019 – 91 Points

Coddington 2019 – 93 Points

Estate Reserve 2019 – 93 Points

Block 2 2016 – 96 Points

Block 6 2015 – 95 Points

Hunting Hill 2013 - 98 Points

I don’t really think I need to say much more… you get the idea of how good these wines are.

Thank you for reading as always, it really does mean a lot.

Hopefully we will be back next week with another article! 😊

Harry Vernau

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