Posted on April 19th, 2011
A short jaunt on the Luas (can one jaunt on the Luas?) took me out to Ian Dornan’s Simply Wines. You can’t miss the place, Ian certainly knows how to signpost. I’ve visited most of the Irish wine warehouses and they’re all very well presented. Ian’s pad is no exception.
After a good old natter, a very decent espresso, I picked up 4 Chardonnays, happy to go with Ian’s recommendations. I went for an ANZAC mix, one from the up and coming Waiheke Island in New Zealand, the others from just across the Tasman sea in Australia, but from very different areas.
- Cable Bay Chardonnay 2004, Waiheke Island, New Zealand (€20)
- Pirie Estate Chardonnay 2005, Tasmania (€20)
- Four O’Clock Chardonnay 2008, McLaren Vale (€15)
- Hope Estate Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2007 (€14)
The spoiler: all four were fantastic. Chardonnay is back – you’d butter believe it and look no further than Australia and New Zealand for its resurgence.
Cable Bay 2004, Waiheke Island
Cable Bay is made from grapes grown on Waiheke Island, close enough to Auckland. Tony O’Reilly has a stake in the company. When I was last in Auckland, some irate journalists wanted to lynch him – some sort of union issue at his New Zealand Herald. Anyhoo, great to see an old favourite, back in favour, a bit like Chardonnay.
Great balance between the crunchy apples, tropical fruit and zestiness and the creamy nuttiness you get from ageing on lees and judicious use of oak barrels.
Ridiculously good and chugs along nicely with chicken.
Pirie Estate 2005 Chardonnay
Piercing citrus, bone dry with lovely minerality and a lean structure throughout. Not as creamy or textured as the other three in the line-up, the oak is a lot more subtle but clearly very well made.
Tasmania has been up and coming over the last couple of years with Pirie out in front. These guys also produce one of the best sparkling wines I’ve had in a long time, also available from Simply Wines.
Sang well with salmon.
Spring Seed Wine Company, Four O’Clock Chardonnay 2008
Wow! I had great expectations of this one. Good breeding, you see with the Bosworth family behind it. They do some very decent drops under their own label. The labels for this series of wines are based on vintage flower seed packets and there are three variations. I like the classic look and it ties in somewhat with the organically grown grapes.
In the bottle, you’ll find a damn fine Chardonnay. Peaches and pink grapefruit to begin followed by a smooth layer of silk. I could of sworn there was some malolactic fermentation, which softens the harsh malic acids or oak treatment, but alas no.
The creaminess can be explained by time left on lees and perhaps that one of the batches was handled “oxidatively”. Interesting winemaking techniques.
Hope Estate Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2007
Probably the richest of all four Chardonnays. I’m thinking Burgundian elegance too. Textbook tropical fruits with peach stones, followed by the buttery brioche and hazelnut, all in a nice little bit of creamy sauce. Lots of fruit, nuttiness and texture.
I really love this style of Chardonnay, it shows great fruit growing and winemaking skill.
The notion of the terroir doing the talking is one thing, but just like the finest ingredients in food, you need a good chef to bring them all together and this is a perfect example of that.