It is not surprising to see Australian chardonnay being feted recently by the English press as the best value wines outside Burgundy; and in some cases showing obvious palate equality.

That story will not go away either as more Australian chardonnays step up to that high standard every week – and it is also Australia’s most widely-planted white grape.

The May focus tasting conducted at Uncorked and Cultivated tasting room was looking squarely at chardonnays: from Burgundy, Sonoma, Auckland and Australia (Granite Belt, Orange, Tumbarumba, Adelaide Hills, Margaret River, Macedon and the Yarra Valley), all the Oz from cool growing areas.

The tastings were conducted blind for the participants; and in rotation, were asked to identify the origin of the wines. Difficult. More so, because to get a guernsey to this tasting, deliberations need to be accompanied by sensible reasons.

Overall there were several conclusions. The wines from many regions, Old World and New World were of high quality. There were few wine faults and many highly-tuned, meticulously-handled wines.

To me the unexpected result was that Australian chardonnay has refined itself so far now, along the minerality trail and repression of oak influence, that the representative Puligny-Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne burgundies were clearly more full bodied (and more oaky).

Is that a smart outcome? Well yes when the competition is coming from light textured, acerbic sauvignon blanc and other unwooded treasures which relay on their cutting acid finish, and odd dose of minerality.

These chardonnays tasted are reported in order of my preference.

Oakridge 864 2009, Yarra Valley, 13% (USD 64); +++++; very pale green, muted, slightly smelly, peach, sweet fruit, then very minerally, long, long, minerality, and no doubt high in acid, but tantalising wine, little impact of oak, no doubt it is there, crosses over from the fruity to the savoury with the abundant fruit. From the Van der Meulen vineyard (read formerly Seville Estate); one of the regions oldest vineyards-about 35 years.

Oakridge 864-Van der Meulen Vineyard 2009-top chardonnay

Barwang 842 2006,Tumbarumba, 13% (USD 32 ); ++++1/2; greens but some age, some yellows, very complex nose, no singular pristine aromas here, a mix, spicy oak but restrained, hard to detect, some funk, very square as it dries off, a lot of power combined with complex flavours.

Top mature chardonnay-Barwang 2006 from 842m at Tumbarumba

Catalyst Flint 2009, Orange, 13.5% (USD 26.75); ++++1/2; very pale, greens only, funk, barrel-ferment complexity, oak-smoke, palate quite structured, flavours long, finish quite slippery, long-flavoured, mineral.

Bindi Quartz 2009-coolest terroir, minerality all over it

Bindi Quartz 2009, Macedon, 13.5%, (USD 80.25); ++++; pale, emerald greenness, restrained smell, barely detectable oak/barrel ferment smoke, very fresh, taste a little chunky, then dipping into sublime minerality, long, long, palate, then grapefruit sweetness; a wine of the tasting.

Shaw and Smith M3 2009, Adelaide Hills, 13.5%, (USD 42.75); ++++; pale green/emerald, sweet oak, fresh, a sniff of stressed yeast, scented oak, slither of funk, more oak, has layers of sweetness; more oak complexity and a drying finish.

Voyager Estate 2005, Margaret River, 13.4%, (USD 45); ++++; green/straw, bacony, restrained, some aged aromas-honey, muted, very tight palate, complexity in the oatmeal style, high acid, soft oak, enticing.

Puligny-Montrachet (Faiveley) 1er “Les Folatieres” 2008, 13%, (USD 100); +++1/2; straw-yellow; forward, oak cedar/spice, complex and oaky, a big thumper, oak textured and full of it, square style, lees/mlf smoke complexity, a trifle phenolic makes the finish hard.

Ridgemill Pedigree 2009, Granite Belt, 13.5%, (USD 37.50); +++1/2; very pale, oak spice, lime and peachy fruit, long and linear, good minerality.

Corton-Charlemagne (Latour) Grand Cru 2005, 14%, (USD 200); +++ 1/2; slightly golden, closed up, oak spice, very full flavoured, lots of marmalade, nectarine, bitters, age complexity, lots of concentration, soft, trifle hot. Producer information says “drink now”. Grapes are harvested as ripe as possible.

Chateau St Jean 2008, Sonoma, 2008, 13.4%, (USD 14); +++; pale green, perfume, a fruit salad of ripeness, stonefruit, not very subtle oak, a powerhouse of flavour, more a commercial style favouring fruit ripeness over complexity and texture.

Macon-Verze (Leflaive) 2008, 12.5%, (USD 30); +++; pale, apples to the fore, slight funk, lots of natural yeast, composed nose, quite a simple wine, taut, high acid, essentially unwooded white.

Kumeu River Mates Vineyard 2005, 13%, (USD 43.50); +++; deep colour, intense emerald, some gold, aged and aging, honied, aromatic with lots of lemons, nectarines, very sweet fruit, good wine but quite old, very high acid which ends up as dryness.

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