Leeuwin Estate makes one of the esteemed Chards from Australia. Most drinkers do not associate Australia with the great Burgundy grape, but the country is making some of the best new world examples out there. The problem is getting your hands on them in the North American market. The few quality Aussie chards that do make it here tend to be from the major producers like Penfolds and Leeuwin, both of which make great Chardonnay but have a hefty price tag to match.
Wood but No Malo
Located in the Margaret River, Leeuwin Estate has been making wines since 1979 (after many years working with Robert Mondavi to find the best sites in Margaret River). The Art Series Chard is the flagship wine that made their reputation. It is made from fruit from the “block 20” vineyard on the estate, which is the estate’s best. I think one of the keys to this wine is that it sees no malo-lactic fermentation. Winemaker Paul Atwood believes the purpose of malo is to balance acidities, but is already happy with the wine’s acidity so sees no purpose to using malo. This approach (i.e. preserving the high natural acidity of the grapes) is what gives the wine poise even though it is aged in 100% new oak. The wood is perfectly integrated into the wine.
Top Modern Aussie Chard
This is a modern styled Chardonnay with considerable ripeness. It is not, however, overdone in any way. It is one of the best balanced modern style Chards out there most years and 2009 is no exception. Tropical fruits dominate up front but citrus and savory notes prevail on the finish, which is extremely long. This wine is also positioned perfectly for aging as it is very happy with oxygen. Over 3 days opened the wine continued to develop positively, which is quite rare with most wines.
I am not generally a fan of this style of Chardonnay, preferring more focused and acid driven examples. However, I had no problem appreciating this impressive example from Leeuwin.
Bottled under screw cap. 14.5% ABV.
Excellent to Excellent+
$110 at Metro Liquor (on sale); $125 at Marquis Wine Cellars