Who’d have thought I’d be revisiting an $18 Chardonnay from 2006 with such curiosity and enthusiasm? Such is the state of Chardonnay in Australia. A golden age of sorts, led at the entry level by this label amongst others. The Hoddles Creek Chardonnay (and its Pinot Noir sibling) has quickly become the sort of “must purchase” wine beloved by wine enthusiasts of good taste and limited means (that surely covers most of us). I’ve visited with this wine on a few occasions, two of which I’ve documented on Full Pour (in 2007 and subsequently in 2011). Here we go for a third time.
The lean character of this wine has remained pretty constant over its life so far, and this tasting reveals a wine that in some respects hasn’t moved much since my first tasting. It’s worth pausing to reflect on the fact this is a cheap wine in absolute terms; that it still has life at this point is in itself remarkable. There are some tertiary flavours for sure — honeycomb and nuts mostly — but the wine retains plenty of primary freshness and white stonefruit flavours.
Where it isn’t evolving so much is in weight and opulence; I wondered on previous tastings whether it might gain some weight, and at this stage it seems destined to retain its linear, quite driven movement through the mouth for a while yet. Will it ever become an expansive wine? I’m not sure; in any case, there are plenty of other Chardonnays to satiate that particular craving. A more interesting question is whether its fruit is starting to fall away here; it does seem to lack that last ounce of intensity, and I don’t recall whether it provided greater impact and flavour in previous tastings. In any case, it has a poise right now that flows from a nicely resolved structure and flavour pitched at a moderate level of intensity.
For my taste, I’d like an ounce more generosity, something the flavour profile suggests but never quite gets around to delivering. Still, that’s probably a question of taste more than quality; certainly, this is a striking, important wine in terms of contemporary Australian Chardonnay.