Posts Tagged ‘Chardonnay’

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

Louis Latour: Old Burgundy Drink Makers

Maison Louis Latour – is a family company that spans every part of Burgundy, having an intriguing collection of wines. And an age-old establishment story.

Denis Latour had his first vineyard by 1731, and later Corton Grancey, where Uncorked wine tourists visit, by 1749. Chateau Grancey was the first purpose-built winery in France; established in 1831.

After the French revolution Jean Latour purchased prime vineyards from a cash-strapped government, confiscated from previous church and noble ownership.


Our France wine tours take guests through the regions of Burgundy; the Cote de Nuits, the Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonnaise and Macon; offering introduction-only visits to caves, only some open to the public. If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call Denise on +61 427 705 391 or email

Latour, having owned the vineyard around it, bought the chateau (with winery) in 1891.

Formal establishment of today’s family brand which buys, trades and makes wine, accumulating 48 prime hectares of vineyards, happened in 1797.

Seven generations of Latour’s (three have been called Louis), and hence the survival of the name, steered the firm to make great white wines.

The vineyards of Corton (main photo) have been Latour’s most famous. And after the phylloxera vine ravage of the Corton-Charlemagne in the 1870s for 30 years, the Latours took the odd step of replanting the common aligote variety and pinot noir, with chardonnay.

This appellation produces some of the greatest chardonnays in all Burgundy. I really like them.

Part of the success of Corton-Charlemagne from this maker is their differing approach to barrels. Since 1898, Latour has made its own barriques (2500 of 228 litres). They have a tonnellerie.

Latour Tonnellerie Savigny-les-Beaune

Latour Tonnellerie Savigny-les-Beaune

Even more remarkable is that just one type of barrel is made; medium toast firing of a secret oak supplied from a blend of forests.

Where used new, this oak is applied to high-end chardonnay and pinot regardless of appellation. The barrel taste effects are constant at Latour. One size fits all grand cru and premier cru vineyard lots.

Barriques of Corton- Chateau Grancey

Barriques of Corton- Chateau Grancey

Moxon Oak imports and sells hundreds of these barrels to Australian winemakers. And now local winemaking technocrats may buy Latour wines made with the same oak they and Louis Latour use; currently the 2015 vintage is available.

Here is a Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2015 (AUD 280) just starting its taste journey; oak shows but subtle over the lemon curd aromas of the fruit; palate now austere from oak dryness but great fruit length and grip. Great chardonnay has grip.


Corton-Charlemagne 2015

Uncorked tour guests tasted Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2014 at Corton Grancey winery in 2016; far more restrained yet oak is aniseed-like, the fruit is more shy from the vintage conditions, and flavour not as broad or orange-creme as a riper year.

This is Louis latour Corton-Charlemagne 2008 tasted underground at Corton Grancey winery in 2015; emerald green, hints of gold, no oak on nose, fungal, marmalade fruit aroma, palate powerful, filling every taste bud in the mouth, complete, rounded, acid still linear, coiled in concentration.

Corton-Charlemagne 2008

Corton-Charlemagne 2008

This is Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2005 drunk in Brisbane in 2009; pale green, not much colour actually, nose of limes and nuts, crunchy, sweetened fruit and oak impact; drying but rich marmalade in the mid palate, long flavour, tingling acid with creaminess, wine starting to open up; maturation span 25 + years.


Corton-Charlemagne 2005

Samples, tastings and purchases of Louis Latour 2015 chardonnays are available from NextGen Wine Merchants. For more information and price list please email


Year Cooperage established-Beaune


Louis Roederer: exquisite, elegant, champagne


Spring-fresh air in Reims told me that the day was to one for elegant wines.

And a great highlight was to happen on walking into the bureau of Reims-based champagne house Louis Roederer.

First this  family-owned house, with 100 hectares of biodynamic vineyards out of its 240 ha is proud of its 70% self sufficiency. This gives it cred as bubbly with soul and clearly a lot of past vision.

Champagne is a grand vineyard of 34,000 hectares dominated by small growers (average plot holdings are 5 ha) selling grapes to producers, elaborators and houses such as Roederer.

Roederer is 17 years down the track with bio grapes of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties. How significant. Tasting the champagnes allowed me to clearly recognise a flavour roundness (elegant wines) I’d expect to be derived from the vineyard; not achievable other ways (in the winery).

The natural and widely used process is malolactic fermentation (acid reduction). Here in Roederer’s own-grown crops it is not needed as any grape in-balance compensation is not required. Growing grapes the Roederer way fixes that in situ.

Verzenay pinot noir vineyards-Montagne de Reims

Verzenay pinot noir Grand Cru vineyards-Montagne de Reims-wines are elegant

A high achievement with a nudge towards the advantage of bio over conventional growing. Are the vines in sync with the moon? If not well there is a clearly defined and recognisable flavour and acid ripeness in the wines I tasted. Unbelievably good too.

It does not surprise me that the 30% of harvested grapes Roederer buy from growers will have partial malolactic fermentation where acid balancing is obligatory from grapes not quite on the mark.


Our France wine tours take guests through the regions of Champagne; the Montagne de Reims, Vallee de la Marne and Cotes de Blancs, offering introduction-only visits to caves, only some open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email

Champagne houses are known as negociants (NM on all labels) who trade in grapes for their needs to spread wines throughout the globe. The sources are geographical (Reims mountain, Marne Valley and White Slopes) which dominate the industry plantings) according to variety and microclimate dictated by history.

Roederer respect this traditional pattern. Their top wine Cristal always has to have it grape origins in all three regions (mountain, valley and slopes). Additionally Cristal comes from the best vineyards (grand cru) possible and this is from terroirs (soil) with high chalk content; it gives the Cristal taste.

Cristal is not made in years where grapes fail in any of the three regions; such as 2001, 2003, 2010 and 2011. I drank 2009. In undeclared vintages to Cristal designated grapes end up as future reserve wine to preserve the chalk-grown personality of the clear (non fizzy) wines.

Cristal 2008 on rack-elegant vintage

Cristal 2008 losing its deposit on rack-elegant vintage

We are 12 metres down, the air is cold, 11 oC, and all the bottles in every tunnel I see are Cristal- 750 ml, 1.5 l, 3l, 6l, 9l all the way up to 12l salmanazar. Here the wine is manually finished (sediment shaken down) while mainstream wines are mechanically turned for lees removal.

Back above the winery has 450 tanks to hold clear wines. That is so because there are 410 parcels of grapes by variety harvested, each pressed separately and maintained that way until blending.

More emphatic a spectacle is the process of storing older bulk stocks (reserves) in large barrels or foudres (2500-5000 litres), 150 of them, held underground in use for up to 40 years, then replaced. Oak is old and does not make reserve wine oaky, just complex and personality plus.


Cristal 2009 is 60% pinot noir 40% chardonnay, all grand cru, the mountain pinot from Verzenay (north facing vines on chalk), the valley pinot from Cumieres (south face chalk) and slopes chardonnay from Cotes de Blancs. Taste-smells complex, some age expressed as smoke and flint, has a sphere of flavour which goes creamy and ends up elegant as acidity sits behind the wine. Round, fine, still fruity, emphasises the use of older vines well established in chalk. From a rich and ripe year.

Cristal 2009

Cristal 2009-elegant-subtle

Roederer 2009 is 70% pinot 30% chardonnay, again filling out in flavour from a very warm year of growing; rounded and full, not too much flavour, just complex, lots of oyster shell from lees time, seaweed complexity, a lot of influence from north-facing pinot vines, partial oak fermentation gives robust finishing notes.

Roederer Vintage 2009

Roederer Vintage 2009

Roederer Rose 2011 is 70% pinot 30% chardonnay; the pinot from Cumieres, carefully harvested to make a special wine. This has perfume, lightness, aroma sweets and succulence, very subtle wine to make a drinker think. The key lies in an innovation making concept. No red wine is added. Grapes are chilled, berries hand removed and sorted, then cold macerated 5-7 days, chardonnay juice added, all pressed together to be fermented. Has a wonderful strawberry glisten, a light touch. Special wine.

Rose Vintage 2009

Rose Vintage 2011-superior drink

Uncorked’s next visit to Champagne and the champagne houses commences in spring 2018, see if you can join us, the experience will be memorable.

Krug: the only one

A visit to Krug. Maybe this is a wine travellers’ idea of Champagne heaven. Close. The wines will mesmerise and history rarely paralleled after Joseph Krug’s family efforts at Krug and Co since 1847.

The wine of the company – Krug Grande Cuvee contains a lattice of many wines. Sitting around a table festooned on persian rugs we spy a bottle, the minimum age range inside is 20 years but this one spans from numerous village wines from 1990 through 2006 (25 yo).

So the blend was tiraged (yeast added) in 2006 and lees aged until a 2013 disgorging-7 years dead yeast time.

And many vintages are stored in the chalk to make these Grande Cuvees – at present there are 400.

Storage -Krug's Juie Murez explains

Storage -Krug’s Julie Murez explains

Back vintages were once held in magnums (as Bollinger still do); but from the 1960’s that stopped and stainless steel is preferred.

What varieties? The three main ones grown in the champagne appellation – pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier are here; this bottle’s proportions were 44/33/21 in that order.

Krug Grande Cuvee- 2013 disgorging

Krug Grande Cuvee- 2013 disgorging

Krug Grande Cuvee NV AUD 250, 12%; always has bold colour (but so would any contributing white wine stored over 20 years); nose of power, scents of delicacy, broiche, not buttery but veins of sweets and roasted nuts, elegance from oak presence.

That’s just the aromas which will dictate a huge taste expectation. Creaming bubbles because the aged wines are so nut-like, power in the palate, dryness from oak-space and age accumulation. What a mix. A venerable powerhouse of flavour. Wine in a mouthful.

We tasted a second Krug Grande Cuvee NV, disgorged in 2012 but composed in 2003. This wine is chardonnay dominant from 120 wines, the oldest being 1988. From this tasting I am deducing that Krug do not make an annual cuvee blend but have another cycle of blending which is a house habit.

What is it in the anatomy of making Krug? Not one aspect but several; some very old base wines, strong use of pinot meunier, old barrel use and more.

Since 1964 at vintage ferments are in 4000 old barrels, and these are maintained in a fresh but old state year on year. So the base wines have that unmistakable Krug stamp of conditioned oak character, more subtle than obvious.

While Krug focuses on its spotless non vintage for the majority of its drinkers, equally memorable are its vintage bottlings.

The 2014 had just been bottled around our visit. Tasted were 2000 and 2003; with 2003 being released before 2002 as there was general discussion all over the region about how the hot year of 2003 should be regarded. Some makers did not release 2003, others did.

The Krug 2003 AUD 350, 12% is a heavenly wine; vintage Krug has little resemblance to is blended non-vintage; so the year is on show as are the various parcels (46/29/25) selected to be an ambassador for the year (after 8-9 years in bottle). Has probably 30-40 village components, quite a masterpiece, the fermentation in barrels decidedly give it “Krug” character from oak seasoning aromas and taste. Lovely wine; full-bodied vintage, though never as full as Grande Cuvee.

Krug Brut 2003

Krug Brut 2003

And if you like music to contemplate while the Grande Cuvee is penetrating your mind and palate, try this:

Uncorked and Cultivated France Food and Wine Tours visit Krug’s cellars in Reims. Joseph Krug was originally born in Mainz, Germany.

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