Few things over the past three or so years have been sufficient to drag me away from wine writing. Tasting and reflecting on wine is one of my greatest pleasures; if it weren’t, I certainly wouldn’t have co-created this site and spent so many hours contributing to it. Learning about wine is its own reward, and my involvement with the drink continues to surprise me as it takes new twists and turns.
The last couple of weeks have conspired, though, to reduce my output to zero. A gloriously non-alcoholic holiday, followed by a jet-lag infused first week back home and, finally, a messy chest cold have hardly inspired me to ponder the finer points of wine. Happily, the cold is under control, the jet-lag mostly gone and my post-holiday blues seem to be rapidly receding. What better opportunity to get back into things with this Hunter Valley Chardonnay?
I must write a whole article at some point about the intersection of taste, wine style and fashion. While on vacation, I read a slim but spectacularly interesting book about Celine Dion (yes, you read that right) that is perhaps the best summary of aesthetics by way of personal taste I’ve ever read. More on that soon; for now, suffice to say this wine embodies a firmly unfashionable style and does so with verve and dedication.
A rich, golden hue is followed by an aroma that showcases winemaking before all else. Yes, we’re in Worked Chardonnay territory here, and that will be enough to turn some drinkers off immediately. But, dammit, it shouldn’t; nothing this complex and generous ought to go unappreciated. There are grilled nuts, cream, a hint of honeycomb, herbs and finally some white stonefruit. It’s a very young wine, as evidenced by a sharpness to the aroma profile that is not entirely pleasant but which should soften with a little time.
The palate begins with the same sharpness, here translating as a slight bitterness, but quickly moves through to a set of flavours that tread an interesting line between freshly savoury and guiltily sweet. What’s clear is there’s quite firm structure at play, completely preventing the wine from being heavy or cloying. Although I’ve tasted more intense wines in this style, there’s significant impact as this hits the tongue, and its power carries right through the middle and after palates. A creamed honey lift starts towards the back of the mouth and coats the finish with a softness that counteracts a continuation of the slight bitterness that is this wine’s most distinctive flavour component. Very decent length, though a bit hot on the finish.
Hunter Chardonnay, thanks for welcoming me back.