Chardonnay tussles with shiraz for the strongest category in Australian wine today. Western Australia does the heavy lifting, putting forth half of our highlights, the vast majority, of course, from Margaret River. The Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Tasmania are next in line, though a long way behind the dominance of the west in sheer numbers.
Reflecting the strength and diversity of the category, three winners emerged from the 11 nominations in our Awards judging, each receiving first-place votes and total scores too close to separate. Put to a second vote, the scores were again too close to single out a winner, so we have done the unprecedented and put forward three very different wines from three of the top producers in three very distinct regions. Seek them out. We love them all.
Find out more about chardonnay in our essential guide.
"An ultra-cool climate blend of Tasmania, Tumbarumba and Adelaide Hills fruit wastes no time in setting the terms of engagement with a wine of infinite class. The flinty/smoky aromas introducing an almost painful intensity on the mercurial palate, a celebration of white-fleshed stone fruits. It has made light work of 8 months in 100% new French oak. Struts its stuff without a care in the world." – James Halliday
"Benchmark pedigree Margaret River chardonnay from the perfect 2018 vintage. Kaffir leaf, ocean spray, nectarine, yellow peach, custard apple and white peach are the start. Saffron curls, vanilla pod and freshly grated nutmeg frame saline acidity, crouched and coiled. Length of flavour extends across the palate in an endless procession of texture and complexity. All of the power, grace and excellence of previous years is here, amplified." – Erin Larkin
"It might have a smidge more volume and ripeness compared with the exemplary 2017, but this is a very fine follow-up. The same DNA. It's about harnessing the power. Expect citrus, flint and form. Length, precision and a mineral drive. The devil is in the details, according to winemaker Dave Bicknell. This wine is the embodiment – indeed the reward – of that." – Jane Faulkner
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*This is an edited extract from the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by Jane Faulkner, James Halliday, Erin Larkin, Tony Love, Ned Goodwin MW, Jeni Port and chief editor Tyson Stelzer.
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