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Chardonnay, the classic wine that transforms with time

Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith explains why cool climate Chardonnay from the Granite Belt transforms with time into an exceptional aged white wine, which can be paired with a wide variety of predominantly earthy dishes.


Have you ever wondered whether any white wine will improve over time? Join Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith in this detailed exploration into specifically why cool climate Chardonnay transforms with time into an exceptional aged white that can be paired with a wide variety of dishes. Learn about the key factors that contribute to successful wine ageing, along with the influence of the vineyard, strategic winemaking decisions, bottle closures and cellaring conditions on a wine’s ageing potential. And most importantly, debunk the common misconception that white wines lack ageing capabilities. The oldest wine that Domaine Bouchard et Fils hold deep in the Beaune cellar is a Chardonnay from the 1840s, not red.

What does a wine need in order to age?

When it comes to successfully ageing wine, let’s start with the three key components — tannins, acidity and residual sugar. Tannins (the phenolic compounds found in grape skins, seeds and stems) function as natural antioxidants. They slow down oxidation, protecting a wine’s aromatic and flavour profile over time. Acidity, takes on the role of a  freshening agent, maintaining the structural integrity that underpins a wine’s ageing potential. Residual sugar can also act as a preservative, which is why dessert wines are exceptionally famous for their ageability. In the case of dry Chardonnay here there is no sugar but often alcohol sweetness.

The vineyard also plays an important role. Wines made from vineyards located in cool climate regions and from grapes strategically harvested early, will naturally have higher acidity which will contribute to the longevity of the wine. Peter does not practise malolactic fermentation, which serves to deacidify freshly-fermented grape juice. He prefers natural preservation.

In the winery, several winemaking techniques can further shape a wine’s ultimate ageing potential. The use of oak for fermentation or ageing can increase and integrate  tannins, while fermenting on lees adds complexity and texture to the final wine, fostering complexity.

Bottle closures, whether cork or screw cap, play a part in the ageing journey. Cork’s permeability to controlled oxygen accelerates development and bottle variability, whereas screw caps, airtight in nature, impede it. Current technical closures may deliberately admit prescribed micro amounts of oxygen but not in the case of Peter’s winemaking.

And finally, ideal cellaring conditions are crucial to successfully ageing a wine. Wines need cool temperatures, darkness, stability and humidity control in order to transform to their full potential over time in the bottle.

Want to know more about ideal cellaring conditions? Check out our blog on ‘Why Age Wines And How To Do It Right’. 

Can you age white wine?

Contrary to a common misconception, the ageing potential of wine extends beyond the realms of reds, and white wines can mature into elegant, aged wines. Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Sémillon stand out as age-worthy varieties. 

Take Chardonnay, for instance, particularly those from the Adelaide Hills, like Penfolds Bin A. Chardonnay’s high tannins (distinct from red wine tannins) and pronounced acidity set the stage for a remarkable ageing journey. This producer’s Chardonnays are just so good, and many are sold with up to 8-10 years of bottle age.

Similarly, Riesling, famed for its strong acid spine, particularly in regions like Clare Valley, undergoes a unique transformation, developing kerosene and petrol notes as it matures. 

Meanwhile, Hunter Valley Semillon, renowned for its honeyed flavours and ridiculously low alcohol (9.5-11%) exemplifies the ageing potential of this white grape.

In the dessert wine realm, Sauternes from Bordeaux — crafted from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot — stands out. Its high sugar content and balancing acidity allow it to gracefully age for 40-plus years.

What makes Granite Belt Chardonnay so suited for ageing?

When grown in the Granite Belt (Queensland), Chardonnay demonstrates the unique balance between grape and terroir. The cool climate, elevated terrain — ranking among Australia’s top three highest regions — and the distinctive granite soils create an ideal environment. Here, the fruit avoids overripening, preserving a crisp acidity that has become the Granite Belt’s signature. This acidity combined with Chardonnay’s high natural tannins makes Granite Belt Chardonnay ideally suited for ageing.

Find out more about our Terroirs of the Granite Belt aged reserve Chardonnay and Shiraz.

Terroirs of the Granite Belt


2010 Settlers Rise chardonnay on a crimson backgroundWhat makes the Terroirs of the Granite Belt Aged Reserve Chardonnay special?

An Aged Reserve Chardonnay, like the Terroirs of the Granite Belt, is a rare find. Most wines are either consumed soon after their release or just don’t have the key components required to age gracefully. 

This Chardonnay — meticulously crafted by Peter Scudamore-Smith MW; from two distinct vineyards, north and south of Stanthorpe — has transformed with time.

The successful ageing stems from the natural acidity and tannins combined with the deliberate use of natural yeast and 8 months of barrel ageing with no lees stirring. The result is a light to medium bodied Chardonnay that is elegant and pairs exceptionally well with a range of dishes.

What does the Terroirs of the Granite Belt Aged Reserve Chardonnay taste like?

On the nose, this cool climate Chardonnay now shows its true mature character, with no remaining aromas of oak. The developed tertiary aromas and flavours of wheat, bread crust and mushroom are now in focus. The primary fruit aromas are there but instead of zesty lemons and limes, they have evolved into citrus marmalade. There is a lingering bright lemon acidity on the palate with a long dry finish. The wine is understated, never too exuberant, and in sync with its granite terroir — exactly what you’d expect from cool climate Chardonnay with substantial bottle age.

Read the detailed tasting profile for our 2010 Terroirs of the Granite Belt Aged Reserve Chardonnay.

Ageing Chardonnay Infographic



What food pairs with aged Chardonnay?

The bright acidity and elegant flavours found in aged Chardonnay of marmalade, crème brulee and fresh bread are a perfect pairing for a wide range of dishes, such as:

  • Creamy dishes (e.g. Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce)
  • Ham or bacon dishes (e.g. traditional Spaghetti Carbonara)
  • Mushroom dishes (e.g. Garlic Mushrooms)
  • Cheese by itself (e.g. soft ripened styles).

Aged Chardonnay can also be a unique alternative to traditional red wine pairings such as Beef Burgundy due to its texture, complexity and crisp acidity. And indeed, also with dry aged beef cuts, as the long time maturing of sealed primal cuts reduces the taste and flavour of the red meat to a subtle nuttiness and sweet juicy notes which are dominated by red wines (if paired). Always pair these with a substantially-flavoured white.


Now that we have debunked the myth that white wines lack the ability to age, you are likely keen to explore some examples of aged white wines. In terms of Chardonnay, a great place to start is examples from the Adelaide Hills, such as Penfolds Bin A or from Margaret River, for example the famous Leeuwin Estate; and examples from the Granite Belt, such as Terroirs of the Granite Belt.

You can find out more about how Granite Belt Chardonnay ages from Peter Scudamore-Smith MW by watching this video: Ageing Granite Belt Chardonnay Profile

The Real Review – Top Rank Wines dinner at OTTO Brisbane

The Real Review dinner of Top Rank Wines at OTTO Brisbane in South Bank shone a light on twelve great Australian and New Zealand gold ribbon wines. The restaurant vista, close by the Brisbane River on a stormy spring evening, charged the tasters’ expectant palates.

The large agnolotti parcels were in true Piedmontese fashion, simply coated with gremolata to tease out the relative textures and flavour intensities of each pinot.

OTTO executive chef Will Cowper pitched his matching plates in the frame of an Italian osteria, his understated seasoning clearly allowing the subtleties and characters of the wines to shine and contrast.

View gallery

First course

The chardonnay lineup served with the first course of Fiori di Zucchini

The chardonnay lineup served with the first course of Fiori di Zucchini

Fiori di Zucchini—fried zucchini flowers, ricotta, parmesan, peperonata

The wines

The Single Vineyard Villa Maria with its layers of flavour, crème brûlée, smoke and nut complexity contrasted the single-parcel Talisman with its delicious grapefruit aromatics. The Collector chardonnay, older and slower-maturing, emphasised struck-match character and its linear acidity highlighted its understated development. It will be a long-liver.

Melted cheese and chardonnay go well together. All three wines shone, the lighter body and bright acid finish of the Collector was consistent with contemporary high-end Australian chardonnay.

Second course

The pinot noirs pours with the agnolotti—‘OTTO Reserve’ by Rangers Valley brisket and bone marrow filled pasta, mushrooms, cavolo nero, gremolata

The pinot noir pours with the agnolotti—‘OTTO Reserve’ by Rangers Valley brisket and bone marrow filled pasta, mushrooms, cavolo nero, gremolata

Agnolotti—‘OTTO Reserve’ by Rangers Valley brisket and bone marrow filled pasta, mushrooms, cavolo nero, gremolata

The wines

Three single-vineyard pinots were well matched with this dish. Quealy, grown at Balnarring, has a massive backbone and linear texture when pitted against the svelte floral, soft and silky outlook of the Moorooduc, grown in the low-altitude Tuerong-Moorooduc area. Mountford, from half a hectare on this vineyard’s highest slopes, is a deeply-flavoured, full-bodied, broader textured wine.

The large agnolotti parcels were in true Piedmontese fashion, simply coated with gremolata to tease out the relative textures and flavour intensities of each pinot. Soft (Moorooduc) to bold (Quealy); beefiness contrasting the meatiness of the wines’ whole-bunch ferments.

Third course

Agnello—Longreach lamb rump, green asparagus, peas, zucchini, broad beans, goat’s feta, mint

The wines

Grenache and its blends are styles enjoying some popularity at last. These wines were starkly different. Toby Bekkers (64% syrah, 36% grenache) is from five vineyards on multiple soil types yet it meshed so well: poised, subtle and long-flavoured with minerality in the finish.

Dandelion Vineyards Menagerie (75% grenache, 20% shiraz, 5% mataro), is all from one 80-year-old Tanunda vineyard. The lamb was cooked at low temperature then finished rare and charred to impart a delicious smoked surface, with simple spring vegetables underneath. It was no distraction from the divide between the Bekkers’ silky texture against the Dandelion’s brute Barossa dry-grown concentration.

Fourth course

The reds were served with the Formaggi—Parmigiano Reggiano served with quince paste, pane carasau & fruit bread

Formaggi—Parmigiano Reggiano served with quince paste, pane carasau & fruit bread

The wines

Warm-area shiraz with this much class appealed to many diners’ palates. Pepper Tree Coquun (Coquun is local First Nations dialect name for the Hunter River) has intense colour, a surprise from this region, and comes from 56-year-old vines. It’s sumptuous and mouth-filling. So agreeable.

The most popular match was the lamb with the Bekkers Syrah Grenache.

Heirloom from Willunga grapes eclipsed the former wine with a grander taste of elegance, fine tannin and towering richness of flavour.

The Yangarra Estate, from a nearby vineyard and blended from several blocks, has black fruits, severe structure and a great compromise between fruit and savoury qualities, oak and natural tannin dryness. The wine is an ideal ambassador for Yangarra.

With a structure as tannic as any cabernet sauvignon, the Taltarni, from the original 1969 plantings, is outstanding. A savoury style, with mouth-sweetening tannins and dark fruits to sustain the dense flavours. The parmesan had crunch, but the best enjoyment came from eating the cheese then drinking this selection solo.

The diners expressed a divided response to modern funky chardonnays, while the multi-layered tapestry of flavours in cool-region wines remains popular. Tasters were doubly enthusiastic about the future of warm-region grenache in their weekly wine diet, yet the overt tannins of the Barossa GSM challenged more timid palates.

The most popular match was the lamb with the Bekkers Syrah Grenache. It was cooked sous-vide to a juicy pink and successfully released the wine’s spice and licorice flavours so beloved by Australian drinkers.

The Real Review

Visit the Real Review for authentic, unbiased opinion on the most interesting, current wines in Australia and New Zealand. You can expect:

  • insightful commentary and news about wine and food
  • food and restaurant trends relevant to the wine loving Australian and New Zealander.

4BC Sunday Tipple: Wine Adventure with Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith

Let Peter Scudamore-Smith take your palate on a wine adventure. From McLaren Vale to the Granite Belt, this podcast explores:

  • Nero D’Avola from Golden Grove, a varietal originating from Sicily, excellent potential here given the changing climate as drought-resistant
  • Montelpulciano from McLaren Vale, a varietal originating from Abruzzo on the eastern coast of Italy 
  • Aglianico 2020 from Hidden Creek, from the home of pizza, high country outside of Naples, grapes grown in the Murray Valley, wine hand-made on the Granite Belt by Andy Williams, a perfect pairing with pasta

You can visit  to stream the podcast online and catch up on 4BC Weekends with Spencer Howson and Fleur.

The art of buying and selling fine wine

Interested in selling your fine wine collection? For some, this is a thought tantamount to sacrilege.

But what if your cellar was overstocked and you needed to make room for some new releases? Or you could be thinking “What if that bottle of Romanee-Conti Uncle Art gave us for our wedding adds up to an overseas airline ticket?”

It might be time to cash in on some of your prized bottles because your taste for reds has changed. Give yourself a gold star for resisting temptation!  This is where a fine wine auction house can help you realise your return on investment.

Wickman’s Fine Wine Auctions is always looking to buy and sell fine wine. Uncorked and Cultivated has a great relationship with this fine wine auction house, and has done since 2011. Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith is often called upon to value wine collections, and to help Uncorked’s clientele realise decent prices for their stock through the auction system.

“Auctioneer Mark Wickman has been auctioning and valuing wine in Australia since 2003, and has been instrumental in helping Uncorked’s clients maximise their returns from wine investment,” said Peter Scudamore-Smith, founder and director of Uncorked and Cultivated.

“This is a fine wine auction house which has a bidder membership spanning Australia and Asia’s wealthiest private wine collectors, Masters of Wine, top restaurants, casinos, sommeliers, and commercial wine buyers. Wickman’s can guarantee you one of the most popular marketplaces in Australia to sell your wine, with clearance rates in excess of 70%!”

We asked Auctioneer Mark Wickman just how did your wine auction house come about? “In 2003 my 8 year old son wanted to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. One of the solutions was a charity wine auction. We raised $5000 that year and eventually created a commercial venture from those seeds”, said Mark.

PetrusAnd the most expensive bottle of wine you’ve auctioned? “That would be a 1962 Chateau Petrus from Pomerol in Bordeaux  for $10,000. A buyer wanted it for a 50th birthday celebration. Funny enough, shortly after a case of the 1962 came up for sale in the US and sold for around $12,000 USD per bottle. After 2012 the price dropped dramatically, no doubt there was not so much demand for 51st birthdays!”, said Mark.

Wickman’s is one of Australia’s leading wine auction houses. If you have excess wine, or your taste has matured towards Brunello and would like to consider selling them in an upcoming wine auction,  you will find information on how to sell wine with Wickman’s here.

Upcoming Wickmans Wine Auction Events

  • November Fine Wine Auction 9th November to the 16th November
  • December Fine & Rare Wine Auction 30th November to the 7th December

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