Up from the Cellar #4

So! No.4 on the cards. This tasting is a little look at 3 very individual wineries. I, personally, wanted to have a look at how Chardonnay can change with different terroir. So I decided to taste three bottles each from a different, new world, country.

Now before we start I just want to say that this is not a comparison tasting. Mainly because the vintages are different as are the price points. However, my goal was to give an idea, a look, if you will into how Chardonnay differs across the globe. So we have one Chardonnay each from Australia, South Africa and America.

We start with Vasse Felix in Australia. Established in 1967 by Dr Tom Cullity in Margaret River. The first vines to be planted were Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Riesling. In 1987 the Holmes a Court family acquired Vasse Felix and started to look at the global market. The first vintage of Vasse Felix Classic Dry White is made. The Holmes a Court family still run the estate today and have invested significantly in a new cellar, purchased new vineyards and create wines that have won numerous awards.

Next up is Lismore Estate from South Africa. Samantha O’Keefe owner and winemaker excels in producing classic cool climate wines. They are rich and complex whilst beautifully expressing their individual terroirs. Several wines are produced here from Pinot Noir and Syrah to Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. Both winemakers and critics alike have applauded O’Keefe for her complex wines that are able to rival that of Burgundy and other impressive regions.

Last but certainly not least, we have Domaine Anderson in the USA. Jean-Claude Rouzaud, Patriarch of the Louis Roederer family, visited the area of Anderson Valley in 1981 to begin cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Frederic, son of Jean-Claude, continues pursuing quality made wines. 50 acres of vineyards are owned by the estate throughout Anderson Valley.

These wines were tasted with food and opened a good 30 minutes before just to air. Shoutout to my grandparents in Spain who we did this small tasting with whilst we were away… such trials and tribulations they have in their retirement! Although the food they prepared was wonderful.

Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2020

Destemmed and whole berry pressing. Natural fermentation takes place in French oak barriques some new with others anywhere from 2-5 years old.

Tasting Note – Rating 93

Exotic stone fruits with orange blossom and slight hints of vanilla on the nose. Extremely fresh and clean on the palate, with a luscious body and great acidity. Stone fruit is exquisite and well-rounded with exotic notes of guava and mango. A really nice finish rounding out a top wine from this estate. Really impressed… My grandpas thoughts were ‘It’s got a lot of Chardonnay in it’… I can only assume that was a good thing considering what we were tasting!

Lismore Chardonnay 2017

Whole bunch pressed, then racked into older Burgundian barrels for fermentation and 11 months of maturation. 5% new French oak was used for 2017.

Tasting Note – Rating 93

Stone fruits and wet slate are primary characteristics on the nose. Peaches and nectarines very prominent with good floral notes on the palate. A very clean and linear wine with good freshness. Stone fruits really prominent with good exotic notes of lychee and mango. Medium bodied with good acidity, drinking really nicely and gives great pleasure. A fantastic expression of South African Chardonnay.

Domaine Anderson Chardonnay 2016

Whole cluster pressing, and racked into small oak barrels to allow native yeast fermentation. Malolactic fermentation takes place over winter and into spring. The wine is then aged for 10 months in barrel with a bit of new oak before bottling.

Tasting Note – Rating 96

Here comes the big boy… Peaches and vanilla forward on the nose with lovely honeyed marmalade notes coming through. Peaches and mangoes on the palate are very clear with a thick full body. Lovely acidity coming through still and this has a good few years left to age if required. Personally I think it is drinking perfectly now! A beautiful wine from America and one that you should definitely have in your cellar!

As I said these are all different so it is not a comparison but more to understand the difference between the terroirs. Something interesting to note is that both the Australian and South African wines had good exotic fruit flavours, whereas the American wine was much closer to a Burgundy style wine.

The Vasse Felix is a ‘fruit bomb’ in my opinion, however with good elegance and structure. The Lismore started off very similar to a Chablis but then once opened for a bit longer started developing more of those New World characteristics, hence the exotic notes of lychee. The Domaine Anderson is very much a Burgundian style. Lots of vanilla but with pure expression of stone fruits and, due to ageing, marmalade and honey coming through.

I would highly recommend any of these wines as a good first try if you’re looking to delve into something different. These wines offer great pleasure at varying price points.

Our next article will be a 60th Tasting so lots to read! Our next Up from the Cellar will come out in July and look at Rose’s for the summer!

Thank you for reading and we’ll see you in two weeks!!

Harry Vernau

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