d'Arenberg Lucky Lizard Chardonnay 2004
After excellent winter rains and then a warm wet spring, the vineyards were set for a good start to vintage. Flowering was consistent, and in general crop loads were higher than normal. McLaren Vale experienced the coldest January for 12 years followed by a warm February which provided perfect ripening conditions and the result was fruit of outstanding character, concentration and excellent natural acidity. The success of this wine is put down to the evenness of the ripening period leading up to picking in the early autumn and extremely protective handling in the winery to preserve the wonderful fruit characters.
The nose is immediately inviting with volumes of pear, pineapple, tropical fruits, guava, hints of peach, green melon, citrus and very fine sweet toasted oaks. Medium to full in style with the level of ripeness in perfect balance with the elevated acidity and the characteristic cool climate flowery Granny Smith apples that linger to the end with fine oak spices, and citric passionfruit character. Probably the best Lucky Lizard yet.
d'Arenberg is one of the undisputed kings of Australian Shiraz and other Rhone varieties that have historically defined the region. A century on, their vineyards have grown to some 450 acres in McLaren Vale, including Shiraz dating back to d'Arenberg's first plantings in 1912, and nearly one-third of McLaren Vale's old bush-vine Grenache. Fourth generation winemaker, Chester Osborn, recently converted all of the family's vineyards to organics and biodynamics and moved to solar energy in the winery. All the while, in terms of winemaking, not much has changed--all the wines are basket-pressed, the reds foot-trodden during fermentation; everything is done in small batches, leading to an impressive array of bottlings every year, each showing a different facet of McLaren Vale terroir. Having been inducted into Wine & Spirits Magazine's Hall of Fame for earning a place on its Top 100 Wineries nine times, this accolade is a reflection of d'Arenberg's revered reputation worldwide.
Known for opulent red wines with intense power and concentration, McLaren Vale is home to perhaps the most “classic” style of Australian Shiraz. Vinified on its own or in Rhône Blends with Grenache and Mourvèdre, these hot-climate wines are deeply colored and high in extract with signature hints of dark chocolate and licorice. Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced in a similar style. Whites, often made from Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc tend to be opulent and full of tropical, stone and citrus fruit.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.