There’s an interesting conceptual tension at play with this wine. The Oakridge range is structured, at the high end, around ideas of vineyard differentiation, terroir and the progressively more precise identification of sites and blocks of special interest. A highly Burgundian view of wine, then, and one that is certainly au courant in the Australian wine scene.
The wine itself is, simply, spectacular. It’s surely one of the best Australian Chardonnays I’ve tasted in a long while, and blasts into one’s palate memory through a combination of balance, impossibly fine detail and the sort of good taste that speaks of highly attentive winemaking. The flavour profile mixes crystalline fruit with a whole heap of prickly sulphides and other funk, which sounds like modern Chardonnay gone wrong but which, in fact, comes across as an utterly coherent collection of notes. It’s the clarity and detail of the wine that really allow each element to shine. Rarely are flavours articulated with such precision and placement. It’s a controlled experience from head to toe, with only a flash of lemon juice flavour and acid on the after palate standing out as somewhat separate and simple.
The complex rush of flavours and sense this wine gives of having been orchestrated brings us back to its origins as a single-block-within-a-single-vineyard wine, one that by its nature might suggest a fashionable minimising of intervention in the winery. This is anything but a hands-off wine, though; it’s one made in a very specific style, using obviously beautiful fruit and applying a series of winemaking techniques with real skill and a very firm view of how Chardonnay should taste. This is a wine of its maker as much as of its vineyard and, in being so, honestly engages the reality of winemaking: it doesn’t just happen on its own. I can’t help but think this is a far more intricate and interesting view of wine than one where the role of either the vineyard or the winemaker is pushed into the background. This Oakridge wine, delicious as it is, is a veritable narrative of the way people and nature collide in the course of making wine.