I’ve been looking for this wine for nearly half a decade. It is not easy to find in North America as most of it is purchased by avid collectors in Australia. Bindi is one of Australia’s top producers and its Quartz Chardonnay is considered one of the very best in the country.
The classic superlative for new world Chardonnays is “Burgundian”. But I think this misses the point. Great wine should not remind you of somewhere else, but be entirely distinctive. I also imagine that this complement is made mostly by those who throw the word around easily without thinking deeply about the distinctions between Burgundy and elsewhere (and even within Burgundy itself). Which is why this wine is so grand. It is not Burgundian. It is Australian (or, more precisely, Victorian), in a manner distinct from any Chardonnay I’ve had from Europe.
From the Hottest to the Coolest
Bindi is located in the Macedon Ranges in the Australian province of Victoria, and is not too far away from Melbourne. The Macedon Ranges are a unique region, having the coolest climate of any Australian region and sparse soils composed of granitic sandy loam. The special block from which this extremely rare Chardonnay is made holds a high concentration of quartz – hence the wine’s name.
Bindi was founded in the 1980’s by Bill Dhillon, who emigrated from India in 1958 (the winery is named after the ornamental dot on Indian women’s foreheads), and in a testament to his personality and sense of respect, who put one of his grammar school teacher’s portrait on the wine label. His son Michael Dhillon now runs the place.
The vines for the Quartz Chardonnay were planted in 1988 in what is now known as the “Original Vineyard”. This is an indigenous yeast only operation that eschews enzyme additions, fining and filtering. Bindi is now also moving towards biodynamic farming.
This is a Chardonnay of place. It is singular. A big, rich wine that is driven by minerals rather than fruit. This unusual potency underlies further contrasts – tartness with chalky dry extract against ease and purity. A remarkable achievement in Chardonnay and further proof to me that Chardonnay is, when great, a terroir grape, not a cellar grape.