Chardonnay has seen quite a few twists and turns in its popularity over the last few decades, but at last it’s coming into its own. Here are 5 Chardonnays from the Hunter Valley, NSW that embody this magnificent varietal and show its sceptics exactly what they’ve all been missing.
Australia’s oldest wine region and only a couple of hours north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley champions quite a few different wine varieties.
Verdelho, medium-bodied Shiraz and of course the Hunter’s iconic Semillons grow beautifully here. But a well-crafted Hunter Valley Chardonnay is a thing of real beauty.
A far cry from the giant wobbly blobs of butter that were the Chardonnays of the ‘80s, a modern Chardonnay is a bottle of minerality, depth and carefully harnessed power.
Yes, there is a bit of butter in some Chardonnays still. But the diacetyl compound from fermentation that produces such a buttery flavour is used as a fine tool rather than a sledgehammer.
Instead, stone fruit, vanilla, a little citrus and a wonderful creamy body lead the charge in this remarkable wine variety from one of Australia’s best regions.
5 iconic Hunter Valley Chardonnays you must try
Scarborough Wines’ The Obsessive Chardonnay
One of the pillars of the Hunter Valley wine region, the Scarborough family have stayed true to the traditional Chardonnay style even through the tough years when ordering a Chardy at a bar was social blasphemy.
The Obsessive, named in honour of the winery’s founder Ian ‘Scarbie’ Scarborough and his demanding standards, is a tour de force of a Chardonnay and easily one of our all-time favourites.
Fermented and matured for 15 months in select new French oak barrels, this rich, wholesome wine is full of roasted cashew, vanilla, brioche and oaky butter flavours blended cleverly with lemony citrus, ripe nectarine and barbecued peach.
Bimbadgen Estate’s McDonalds Road Chardonnay
Bimbadgen’s beautiful cellar door and distinctive bell tower featured on their labels (and which, by the way, is climate-controlled and used for wine storage) deserves a visit when you’re in the Hunter. For no other reason than to try their Chardonnays.
The McDonalds Road Chardonnay is a golden straw colour, full of melon, white peach and rich French oak aromas.
Light melon and citrus flavours match the nose and are balanced with more oak that lengthens the palate, all brought together with a caressing, creamy texture. A really sophisticated wine.
Silkman Wines’ Hunter Valley Chardonnay
There’s a reason why Silkman’s Shiraz was selected to be one of the four Hunter wines to go up against Grange at the 2021 HVWFF at the Wine Store. And that quality runs through to their Chardonnay too.
This is a contemporary Hunter Chardonnay, produced from an extremely small parcel of exceptional fruit, grown in the heart of Pokolbin.
In spite of its youth, there’s an elegance to this wine. And for those who like their Chardies oaky but still with plenty of fruit, you’ll love this one. Lively nectarine and citrus on the first sip leads out into a full-bodied, rich yet somehow still fresh finish.
Iron Gate Estate’s Chardonnay
No matter how many times you visit the Hunter Valley, there’s always another winery to discover. And somehow Iron Gate Estate has eluded us all this time… until now.
Portions of Iron Gate’s Chardonnay is fermented in a blend of Hungarian, French and American oak barrels, while the remainder is left to mature on lees in stainless steel tanks.
On the nose you get toasted almonds, chocolate banana, pastry and that distinctive Chardonnay charisma.
Initially there’s a taste of smooth citrus, stone fruit and playful sweetness until the slightest touch of oak comes that binds everything together. The finish is long with a generous mineral acidity.
Ridge View Estate’s Impressions Single Vineyard Chardonnay
Another tucked-away Hunter winery that’s only come onto our radar recently, Ridge View Estate’s Chardonnay is nothing less than a surprise.
This is a truly great Chardy that belies the dodgy label. Oaky on the nose, creamy from eight months on lees, and flavours of melon, white peach and light oak.
The result is a lightly structured, smooth wine with balanced fruit sharpness and sweetness. If they could make a strawberries and cream lolly for grownups, this would be it. Above all, this book should not be judged by its cover.
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Do you have a favourite Chardonnay? What’s your go-to winery in the Hunter Valley? Tell us in the comments!