The best Chardonnay in the southern hemisphere?

Just returned from a fortnight in Australia in which I slept in nine different beds in eleven days – makes me sound a bit like a rock star… Fitted in time in the Hunter, Clare & Barossa Valleys and Tasmania, home of vast number of dead kangaroos and possums (or least on the Launceston-Hobart road) and some very impressive Pinots. More of which no doubt will appear here soon. First though, what could very well be the best Chardonnay in the southern hemisphere, the 2009 Oakridge 864 Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley.

I came across it a couple of Saturdays ago in the Millswyn restaurant in Melbourne with a group of Aussie sommeliers (and some terrific suckling pig). Oakridge was one of the Yarra’s star wineries in the 1980s, and I remember an especially distinctive, leafy 1986 Cabernet with fondness. But it paled into insignificance in comparison with this quite superb Chardonnay. It had what I call the benevolent spent match edge you found in top white Burgundies, tangy apple charlotte, pear and peach flavours, a slight savoury note and a long, high-cheekboned and seamless finish. Normally when wine folk gather, you try as many different wines as possible. Not this time – the five of just couldn’t get enough of this gem, and got through three bottles of it over the evening. Just brilliant, brilliant wine. Don’t think the 2009 is available in the UK yet, but Hard to Find Wines has (or had) the 2008.

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