The Golden West: Australia’s Top 20 Chardonnays

Posted on Nov 15, 2019

Location, location, location.
Real estate agents will tell you that’s the golden rule of investing in property.
The same applies when buying chardonnay, it seems. And the golden mile for that glistering grape? Margaret River.
The West Australian region stands head and shoulders above all others in our review of current-vintage chardonnay. Only two of the top ten chardonnays listed below came from outside Margaret River and 14 of the top 20 claimed the same provenance.
Our rankings are drawn from nearly 4500 exhibits of 1824 chardonnay labels at Australian and NZ wine shows held so far this year.
But it’s not just us saying it. The largest specialist review of chardonnay in the country, the Halliday Chardonnay Challenge, had the region’s 106 exhibits pipping contenders from the Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley for the same title.
So what is it about Margaret River chardonnay?
Well, it’s all about climate, clones and corporates.
Firstly, Margaret River’s climate makes it probably the most stable grape-growing area in Australia. With the lowest average temperature range in the nation and maritime coverage on three sides, the south-western terroir ripens grapes with almost perfectly even warmth.
The second major factor is the dominance of the Gin Gin chardonnay clone – a local variant of material originally sourced from chardonnay’s ancestral home in Meursault, France. Gin Gin vines tend towards “hen and chicken” bunch development that produce berries of differing sizes. These variations help produce complex juice that combine the richness of the larger berries with the acidity of the smaller ones.
Finally, it cannot be discounted that small producers almost completely dominate what is, in fact, a very small region by output. Margaret River accounts for less than two per cent of the national crush thanks to poor soils which restrict the establishment of large vineyards. The low yielding West Australian clones also contribute to the region’s limited supply. More than half of the wineries in the area produce less than 50 tonnes per annum. With these constraints it’s hardly surprising the economics favour fine wine production.
Australian chardonnay is marching back up the charts in the eyes of local and overseas critics. Here are the top 20 drawn from our unique compilation of the 41,000 wine show scores produced each year – Australia’s single biggest survey of local wines:

1 Millbrook Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2018
2 Evans & Tate Redbrook Reserve Chardonnay 2016
3 Deep Woods Reserve Chardonnay 2018
4 Capel Vale Black Label Margaret River Chardonnay 2018
5 Pinnacle Drinks Redemption ‘Landmark Release’ Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2018
6 Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Chardonnay 2017
7 Evans & Tate Redbrook Reserve Chardonnay 2017
8 Moppity Coppabella Crest Chardonnay 2018
9 Evans & Tate Redbrook Reserve Chardonnay 2015
10 Brookland Valley “Estate” Chardonnay 2018
11 Aldi Stores Blackstone Paddock Margaret River Chardonnay 2018
12 Ferngrove Diamond Chardonnay 2018
13 Robert Oatley Finisterre Margaret River Chardonnay 2017
14 Nepenthe Pinnacle Ithaca Chardonnay 2018
15 Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2018
16 Xanadu Chardonnay 2017
17 Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay 2018
18 Chain of Ponds Corkscrew Road Chardonnay 2018
19 Hardys HRB Chardonnay 2018
20 Houghton Wisdom Chardonnay 2018

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