Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 1998

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The second of two aged Australian chardonnays I managed to get my hands on, this actually turned out a lot better than the Penfolds Yattarna, which is interesting given that in an earlier comparison of the 2003 vintage of the two I found my preferences distinctly on the side of Yattarna. These two continue to duke it out for the title of best Australian chardonnay.

From the Margaret River, this was a surprisingly vibrant and youthful yellow for a ten year old wine. The nose was toasty and buttery with vanilla, pineapply custard and lemon. In fact, I was a little disappointed when I first smelled the nose since it suggested more of the same Californian style chardonnay I have been having for months. However, with a little air the nose caught up to the palate, which was off in another, much more exciting, direction.

The first thing I noticed about the palate was the texture of the wine: extremely delicate. There was an amazing lightness to the wine despite its intense body and depth of flavour. I got lots of lemon, a little lime, pineaple, a touch of mineral brightness and a longish finish with a momentary feel of heat, which left with air. This is not a wine with dozens of flavours, but texturally it is whimsical and dances across the palate. One can also not help but mention that the structure and layering are just right to make restraint a fairly futile task. Each component is carefully and delicately built upon the others with precision and direction. This is not a wine that makes you guess about its intentions – rather it is a very well delineated path into a stunningly beautiful vista with bracingly fresh air.

Excellent to Excellent+
$51 at Benchmark Wine


  1. Edward
    May 10, 2009


    Exactly how much study are you doing for these finals 🙂

    I still think the Leeuwin is the best Aussie chardonnay – which is widely available. Some people say that Giaconda make the best in terms of quality – but it is hard to find and also much more expensive (usually $A150 mark compared to $A70-90 for the Leeuwin).

  2. Shea
    May 10, 2009

    I wish I were drinking this much, but these are old notes from before finals period! I’ve been try for a while now. Looking forward to the end.

    I’ve never seen Giaconda in Canada or the US – not sure if it gets out here. Too bad.

  3. Joe
    May 10, 2009

    What was the alcohol content on this wine? And where did you find a chardonnay with this age – your cellar, or a shop?

  4. Shea
    May 10, 2009

    14% abv. I got it at Benchmark Wine, as mentioned at the bottom. They buy private cellars and resell the stock and have very high standards for provenance. Great little place based out of Napa and excellent prices.

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