The season for chardonnay

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Choose the right wine every time - Taste Food and Wine 2008 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Choose the right wine every time - Taste Food and Wine 2008 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

It is the season to drink Charddy, tra-la-la-la-la ... and what better way to fill them than with some one of these delicious chardonnay from the top shelf of your cellar - we've given you 12, one for every day of Christmas.

Scorpo Aubaine Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2006  $31
It is our great pleasure to introduce Scorpo Aubaine. This is probably your first acquaintance with this delightful Chardonnay, but as soon as you learn of the company it keeps, you’ll be getting along like old friends. Scorpo is the child of Sandro Moselle, whom you got jiggy with when no less than six of his Kooyong wines rocketed into our inaugural edition. If you’re anything like us, you’ve been busy getting well-oiled with his wines ever since! We now feel that you’re ready for a deeper relationship with something a little more intellectual. Aubaine is a complex wine that you’ll need to sit down and think about for a while. But don’t worry, there are some nice footholds and handholds of familiar flavours that you’ll find as you climb up its body. It will also taste like something completely different every time you turn around, but you’ll love every facet of its enigmatic personality.

Dalwhinnie Moonambel Chardonnay
2005  $38
Mesmerising minerality is the theme in this edgy, muscular, brittle, mountain-side Chardonnay. Stone and soil appear in every pheromonal moment that this wine is near your being. It is driven by rapacious linearity and nerve-jangling, squeaky-fresh lime notes. We would advise creamy sauces and/or juicy seafood dishes (like scallops, mussels or clams) to allow Dalwhinnie to do its fandango on your tongue. This is vital wine made with unrivalled passion.

Kooyong Estate Chardonnay 2005 $38
It dances out of the glass, lifted by flitters of lime leaf that command every movement like a puppet on a string. The puppeteer in control is Sandro Moselle, and every year his nimble fingers become more delicately tuned to drawing out every nuance of flavour in this spectacular Chardonnay. Prepare yourself for a show that will take your breath away – this wine makes Cirque de Soleil look like Punch and Judy.

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2006 $40
Rob Mann can do no wrong, and his latest Chardonnay is further proof of his burgeoning genius. It’s upright, tall, intellectual and handsome – much like the wine critics that are reviewing it. There’s not an ounce of flesh that isn’t necessary on its defined chassis (like one of the critics, anyway). We suggest that you cook something decent and then take a moment’s silence to absorb this wine in its unadulterated glory.

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2006 $40
Brothers Michael and Paul Brajkovich hold the record for outlasting a hoard of international winemakers and media for the latest nights in succession at The Matterhorn Bar in Wellington (almost equalling Jukes and Stelzer stamina-levels). They also hold the coveted position of making NZ’s most highly regarded Chardonnays from their estate at Kumeu (pronounced Koo-mee-you) near Auckland. The calm, controlled precision of these wines is a direct reflection of Michael himself, a true technician and master craftsman who understands the intricacies of his art to the nth degree. His Estate Char-donnay is a blend of ten vineyards, which he perfectly assembles into a fine, minerally, chiselled hull without sacrificing one iota of the peach and lemon blossom that effuses from every seam. He also creates a number of single vineyard propositions, of which Kumeu River Maté’s Vineyard Chardon-nay 2006 (AUD$60, NZ$50) is the King.

Howard Park Great Southern Chardonnay
2006 $42
2006 will be remembered as the last HP Chardonnay made by “Kegs” (Mike Kerrigan – no relation to Darryl, we’re assured). The fruit comes from the little town of Denmark, which is about as close to the South Pole as vines can get in Western Australia. Biting cold winds careen off the Southern Ocean and produce very fit grapes with hints of fresh mint tips and pine needles. Kegs has cracked the recipe for Denmark Chardonnay like no one else, and the result is a delicious and eminently age-worthy prize. We know, because we’ve been avid followers of the wine and the man for years. This is far from the last you’ll hear from Kegs. Stay tuned.

PHI Chardonnay 2006 $44
To drink PHI is to step into The Matrix and meet The Architect in his room lined with video screens. It takes a trilogy of action films to build up the mental endurance to even get into this wine, let alone understand it. And when you do finally enter its zone, you’ll come face-to-face with your maker, transfixed in a room with your own face on every one of those screens. This wine says more about you than you will about it. When you eventually escape, you will wander around in a daze for weeks, trying to figure out what just happened. Steve and Stephen have architected their most sublime and intellectual Chardonnay to date, and it is like nothing ever made in our current version of reality. It’s so desperately puerile, so dramatically streamlined and so freakishly age worthy that it will slow down everything that touches it to bullet-time slow motion.

Hardy’s Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2005 $48
Eileen will always have a slight image issue (apologies to all Eileens out there) but once you’ve got over the embarrassment of buying a wine that is seemingly targeted at pensioners, you’ll be rewarded by the finest example of this wine ever made. After reading our praise last year, you’ll be puzzled as to how this is possible, so you’ll just have to line up a bottle and discover for yourself. This is a very detailed wine with lots of chapters, so be sure to take your time and read them slowly.

Felton Road Chardonnay 2006 $51
Blair Walter challenges the Brajkovich brothers at Matterhorn endurance (refer Kumeu River, above), but there are few in NZ who can challenge his Riesling and Pinot Noir. Who would have guessed that his Chardonnay would join theirs in our list this year? Cultivated under the most soil-respecting biodynamic régime conceivable, his vines give birth to wines of gorgeous length, beautiful complexity and sheer elegance. They are a privilege to hold in your hand and a life-changing experience on the palate. Often available for $40 in Australia, and we saw it for $27.50 last time we were in NZ.

Cullen Margaret River Chardonnay 2005 $62
Vanya is perfectly in tune with her vineyards and her wines and this Chardonnay shows this rare and superb partnership in all its glory. Chardonnay is so easy to make well, but incredibly difficult to make brilliantly. Cullen improves and augments its holistic recipe every year and the results are amazing. The taut minerality underpinning the 2005 is nothing short of breathtaking. This new era in Aussie Chardy is gripping viewing.

Pierro Chardonnay 2005 $65
This wine is on a mission. It is a Chardonnay vector – its magnitude of flavour and unwavering, direct assault on your palate are almost shocking. Zesty grapefruit, mandarin skin and spice are laced together with a silk thread of acidity. It parades its region on its sleeve. Pierro Chard is a wine for true fans of the variety, the region and roast chicken. It’s inclusion in our list again this year is dedicated to my (Tyson’s) brother-in-law, Craig, whose Chardonnay epiphany began when he discovered Pierro in our book last year. He is still in remission.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2005 $94
Is this the best Chardonnay in Australia? Too right it is. Brilliantly complex, unreser-vedly restrained and yet a full-on clog dancer from its very first moment on your palate. The trajectory of this wine is astronomical. You’ll still be tasting it tomorrow. Did we say this is the best Chard in Aus? Long live the Queen.


Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2007 Members can purchase the latest edition of Taste Food and Wine 2009 from our online partner Seekbooks at a 12.5% discount, postage and handling extra.


  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)
  • Pyrenees (VIC)
  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)
  • Great Southern (WA)
  • Margaret River (WA)

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