Winning streak for Penfolds Chardonnay
Penfolds is best known for its reds, but Chardonnay is stealing the limelight on the show circuit this year.
The latest accolade for Penfolds was its 2017 Cellar Reserve Chardonnay winning the Len Evans Memorial Trophy for Champion Wine of Show, awarded at the National Wine Show last week.
This “outstanding exhibit”, according to chair of judges David Bicknell, also won Best Chardonnay and Best White Wine.
The Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, which has a recommended retail price of $55, will be released this month.
Before arriving on shelves, Penfolds Reserve Bin 17A was crowned Best Wine of Show at the 2018 Royal Sydney Wine Show, where it also took out Best White Wine and Best Chardonnay.
“Penfolds' commitment to sourcing good fruit and letting the winemaking team have a proper crack really shows in the winning wine,” said PJ Charteris, chairman of a judging panel comprised of 30 industry experts. “For a chardonnay to have such power, but also poise, puts it almost in a league of its own.”
Chardonnay's big comeback
Chardonnay has officially returned to favour with both wine judges and consumers this year, taking out a slew of trophies in Australia and New Zealand in the past few months.
New Zealand’s Isabel Estate Vineyard was awarded Best Single Vineyard White Wine for its Isabel Estate Wild Barrique Chardonnay 2017 wine at the prestigious 2018 New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards earlier this month.
It joins the 2017 Suckfizzle Chardonnay from Stella Bella Wines, which recently took out Wine of Show at the 2018 Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show.
As Good Food notes: "We tend to look back on chardonnay like a big perm: best left in its own era.
"Just like the shoulder pads of its heyday, Chardonnay went out of fashion in the '90s. Its buttery flavour and rich, yellow colour were suddenly seen as too big: people were sick of drinking it, and they wanted subtler wines as Australia's love for different varieties grew.
"There was even an entire movement dubbed ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) that meant the 'C' word was all but banned from everyone's lips – while out in civilised company, anyway."
But winemakers are turning that lip curl into serious appreciation for new iterations of the classic varietal.
And the result is growing sales, with a recent Australian Retail Liquor Trends report by market research company IRI showing Chardonnay sales are up 2% to $5million in the off-premise.
In October, ALDI claimed best white wine and best chardonnay of show at the 2018 Wine Show of WA or its $15 2017 Blackstone Paddock Limited Release Chardonnay, which was described as a remarkable feat given this year's judges praised the high standard of the 2017 chardonnay class.
In August, Brokenwood Wines was awarded Best NSW Wine for its 2016 Forest Edge Chardonnay at the Sydney Royal Wine Show.
“We’re seeing an end to chardonnays that taste like you’re pulling splinters out of your mouth,” Stuart Hordern, senior winemaker, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“There’s been a real renaissance in Australian chardonnay over the last decade and in NSW particularly. Chardonnay makers from Orange, Tumbarumba and single-vineyard sites in the Hunter Valley have stepped off the oak to let the region to shine through.”