Best Australian Chardonnay Wine
Drinkers in Australia can be pretty excited by the sheer quality of Australian Chardonnay right now. We’ve had our existential moment when the pendulum swung back hard from the big oaked wines to the skinny, lean wines, and now the majority of top producers are finding balance, texture, flavour and length in that middle ground area. There are great options out there for every drinker’s particular taste.
The popularity of un-oaked examples emerged to counter this and now the vogue points towards the cooler regions. These styles are refined, distinctive and are often more expressive about the vineyard site, region and season. Winemakers are now responding to the personality of the fruit before intervening in the winery.
Read more about Australian Chardonnay wine and wine regions
What does Australian Chardonnay taste like?
What many might not realise is that Chardonnay is, in and of itself, quite a neutral grape, with many of its flavours arising because of the region it has grown in, and the winemaking art via the use of oak and different approaches to fermentation.
In fact, the grape is capable of such diversity of expression that there is no single, universal ‘style’ of Chardonnay.
Let’s explore some of the most popular Chardonnay styles that have wowed wine lovers here in Australia.
- SPARKLING BLANC DE BLANCS – Chardonnay is hugely popular in the production of French-style Sparkling wines, much desired for its citrusy, minerally characters.
- LIGHT TO MEDIUM-WEIGHT, LIGHTLY OAKED – Lightly-oaked Chardonnay is relished for its lighter, somewhat fruity profile, crisper texture and floral, citrus-tinged aromatics.
- MEDIUM TO FULLER-WEIGHT, MORE HEAVILY-OAKED – Closer to the ‘classic’ style, such Chardonnay uses oak to elicit notes of confectionery and vanilla in the wine, and help deliver a mouth-filling, buttery-like texture.
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Best Australian Chardonnay wine regions
It is the diversity of Australian grape growing regions and the fact that Chardonnay can be grown quite well in almost any conditions that makes Australian Chardonnay so special.
Chardonnay is planted in virtually every region in Australia, but the ones that have excelled include Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley, Tasmania and the Adelaide Hills. Here are three of our favourite Chardonnay growing regions.
Adelaide Hills Chardonnay
This cool region is highly suited to Chardonnay. The wines are elegant, finely structured, typically with white peach and nectarine flavours. Part of what makes the Hills a special region for Chardonnay is obviously the climate and the other exciting element is the diversity of producers and styles. With plantings at a range of altitudes, up to about 600m, they are producing thrilling Chardonnays with beguiling natural acidity, flavour and intensity.
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Yarra Valley Chardonnay
Victoria also produces some top end Chardonnay; particularly from the Yarra the Yarra Valley naturally produces fine minerally Chardonnay from a range of sites and soil types. The best sites are highly individual and show characters of their place, making the Yarra Valley a special place for this varietal
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Hunter Valley Chardonnay
The Hunter Valley, according to all modern doctrines, should not be capable of either growing, or making Chardonnay, but it does. The oldest producing Chardonnay vineyard in the world is in the Hunter Valley. The best of the region are wines that can live as long as the Semillons – they have the natural strength of acid and lower pHs to ensure that long life.
The Hunter produces rich, ripe wines, with beautiful freshness and vitality. The warm, sunny days lend themselves to powerful, rich flavours, which wine lovers can enjoy all year round.
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Best food pairings for Chardonnay
With its diversity in styles, Chardonnay can be matched with a wide range of dishes.
Whichever style you prefer, Chardonnay is a truly delicious wine to pair with food. While classic pairings include roast chicken and other white meats, these are best reserved for the fuller-bodied Chardonnay wines, so the rich flavours of the meat do not overpower the wine. The lighter styles and Sparkling wines that use Chardonnay as their base, however, open up even more intriguing possibilities for your palate.
Best wine glass for Chardonnay
Fr an all-purpose white wine glass, choose a long stem with a good-sized bowl so there is plenty of space for the wine to breathe. Always hold the glass by the stem to ensure the bowl is not heated by your hands.
For fuller-bodied whites like Chardonnay, go for a glass with a larger bowl to really bring out and enhance the creamy texture of the varietal.
With so many sizes, shapes and styles, choosing the right wine glass can be a little daunting. Check out our guide to wine glasses here