At Giaconda Rick Kinzbrunner has created arguably Australia's greatest Chardonnay, and is making a mean fist at its most sensual, aromatic Shiraz (Syrah) and is on the road to make top Nebbiolo. His focus and determination to benchmark himself against the very best wines of the world is compelling.
I've visited Giaconda a couple of times and what struck me is the array of great empty bottles in his house - wall to wall of Montrachet, top northern Rhone and great Barolo. His ambition is to truly reach for the stars.
As a winery worker across Victoria in the 70s he moved to California and studied at UC Davis and did vintage with some key thought leaders (Simi, Stag's Leap, Matanzas Creek), along the way becoming friends the likes of Steve Kistler and David Ramey - both producers of fabulously layered, complex Chardonnays which give you an insight into his aims with Chardonnay at home in Beechworth. In Europe he worked for the Mouiex family, co-owners of Chateau Petrus.
He bought the land in Beechworth in Victoria's alpine country in the early 1980s and planted a tiny vineyard which today totals 4ha. The Estate Chardonnay comes solely from this site.
A freak wine and in my opinion Australia's greatest Chardonnay. Complex, layered and an utterly gorgeous texture, closer to Grand Cru Burgundy than Chablis. Rick's chardonnay has a stuck match complexity and texture that reminds me of Domaine Ramonet in Chassagne-Montrachet. Since completing an underground cave for fermentation and maturation in 2010 he now finds his wines end up closer to 13.5% than 14.5% abv thanks to the higher humidity. Giaconda Chardonnay needs a few years in bottle and ages extremely well for more than a decade. A recent bottle of 2004, and a vertical of 2008-2013 last year affirms my view that it is one of Australia's greatest wines.
Justin Knock MW