Origin: Margaret River/ WesternAustralia / Australia
Australia's most famous chardonnay, the site and winery is dripping with panache and history. First identified as a vineyard area with great potential by Robert Mondavi in the early 1970s, Leeuwin Estate is nestled in the giant woods just south of the town of Margaret River. The first vintage in 1979 made a huge splash when it came out at $17 a bottle - the 2nd most expensive wine in Australia after Penfolds Grange! Incredibly the wine quality has never been doubted and before all other Australian Chardonnays, Leeuwin Estate established a record of cellarability and longevity that even today has barely been matched.
The key to the wine is the fabulously concentrated fruit, built around the core of the famous Block 20 Chardonnay which is planted to the very intense and low-yielding Mendoza clone. Despite attempts by numerous others, no producer in Margaret River seems to be able to match the concentration and intensity of this great wine. Made with high levels of new oak (but no longer 100%) this goes through all the winemaking steps of fine Burgundy to give this maximum complexity and flavour. A powerful wine this has aromas of cashew, grapefruit and just-ripe mango, the palate is long and sinewy and grows in the glass. Already 4 years old at release it can be enjoyed now but is better with a few years in bottle or even a decade, but if you must drink it soon then decant it for an hour or so and watch it unfurl majestically.
From an excellent vintage, the Art Series Chardonnay is fermented in 100% new French oak barriques, with a percentage of whole bunches in the mix. The wine is blended after 11 months in barrel. Despite that significant oak treatment, this has a gentle mealiness and creamy almond quality rather than anything overtly toasty. It seems a tad more precise than the previous vintage. There is a little buttery Brazil nut beneath, but also a certain coolness to the fruit, a hint of tangerine to peach and ripe pear. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and has very good freshness, the acid sparky and streaked with lime, that cuts through more buttery and tropical fruit flavours. Again there's salinity, and that plus the zesty citrus gives this fine definition, with a bit of grip too." - 95/100, Tom Cannavan