Mike Press Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2011

mike press chard

So, back on the Chardonnay wagon (unwooded, this time – no oak here!) and there’s nothing like having someone else do the work for you. This wine was suggested by Adam Easterbrook through the magic of Twitter. Adam even sent me a list of retailers of this wine!

I picked up the Mike Press Adelaide Hills Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (that’s one seriously long name there!) from Cellarbrations at Brighton for the princely sum of $9.99. Yes – that is outside my $15-20 price bracket for this exercise, but packing punch for price is what this exercise is all about …

In the glass the wine is pale gold and with quite a pronounced nose. I’d actually go so far as to describe this wine as surprisingly aromatic. Yes – that’s not a word you’d normally associate with Chardonnay but it’s very apt for this wine. The wine is very tropical fruit – pineapple, mango, some sweet citrus (think pink grapefruit) and maybe even some banana. And the wine tastes of those same tropical fruits as well as some ripe stone fruit – think pineapple and nectarine. The wine has some good, refreshing acidity and nice length and weight.

At just shy of $10 a bottle this wine is really good value – or perhaps it should be ‘insanely good value’. The wine is not for those after something oaky, and nor is it for the occasion where you’re after a restrained, cool climate specimen. However, if you have friends who are Chardonnay nay-sayers (and particularly any obsessed with Sauvignon Blanc) then this is a great wine to show them. Drink it with fish and chips, roast chicken, roast pork … or, indeed, just by itself.

If you have a favourite Chardonnay that everyone should be drinking … let us know!

Bay of Fires Sparkling Tasmanian Cuvee Brut NV

A slight hiatus in wine reviews and this week not a still Chardonnay. I actually did have one lined up for you but unfortunately a bit of early winter flu very much got in the way of constructive wine tasting. No point in bringing you a tasting note that reads “I felt sick, the bottle of wine sat open in the fridge for three days, it tasted OK”.

So this week I bring you a sparkling wine from Tasmania and at just under 44% Chardonnay it almost fits the Chardonnay brief. This non vintage wine from Bay of Fires is a blend of the three traditional Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir (48.5%), Chardonnay (43.9%) and Pinot Meunier (6%). The wine is made by Fran Austin and Ed Carr (Ed Carr of Arras fame) with grapes coming from some of Tasmania’s best growing areas. This is a good pedigree to start with!

The wine is pale gold with plenty of fine bubbles* in the glass. The nose is quite pronounced with yeasty, bready characters, a touch of citrus and also strawberries and cream. On the palate there is good acidity and the citrus is more pronounced than on the nose – it’s definitely lemon. There are also bread and dairy characters. The back label suggests yoghurt and if you think of a natural, unflavoured and unsweetened yoghurt, this is a pretty accurate description. The wine has good length and the palate finishes with some suggestion of savoury characters.

I really liked this wine and while its RRP is $31.50 you can pick it up for under $30 if you do some research. I haven’t had my favourite sub $30 sparkling wine for a while so I’m not sure if this knocks it off its pedestal or not (yes, that does sound like an excuse to go out and buy more sparkling, doesn’t it?). Definitely a good wine and reasonable value for money.

* The important thing with bubbly is not the size of the bubbles per se but how long they hang around. The smaller the bubbles (the ‘bead’ in winespeak) in theory the longer they’ll take to dissipate.

Ad Hoc Hen and Chicken Chardonnay 2010

After last week’s uninspiring M√Ęcon-Villages, I’m pleased to report that this week’s wine, the Ad Hoc Hen & Chicken Chardonnay 2010 from WA’s Pemberton region, restored my faith that I would be able to find good Chardonnay in my $15-20 price bracket. I picked this wine up from a major national retailer, but the Ad Hoc website notes that the 2010 vintage is sold out.

On the nose the wine had some lemon notes with an obvious, but not overbearing, oak influence. There was some creaminess and the citrus was accompanied by some tropical fruit – think melon and even banana and mango.

All of this flowed through to the palate: plenty of lemon and good acidity mellowed to creaminess and tropical fruit. The best way to describe it was a mixture of pineapple and natural yoghurt. The wine had a lovely weight to it and reasonable length. It did strike me as being ever so slightly warm (the wine is 13.5% abv) but not enough to put me off.

Larry Cherubino, the winemaker, has four brands under his belt: Ad Hoc, The Yard, Cherubino and Laissez-Faire. He started his wine making career with Hardys and then Houghtons before setting up on his own in 2005.

The tasting notes for the 2010 give it a cellaring potential of up to 5 years. I guess we’re about half way through that and the wine is drinking beautifully. At $19 a bottle it puts last week’s effort to shame.