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Giaconda Estate Chardonnay 2004
"Incredibly complex bouquet offers grand cru Burgundy notes of stone fruits, melon, honey, iodine, licorice, minerals, smoked meat and jasmine; this could pass for a ripe Corton-Charlemagne. Then rich, broad and almost painfully concentrated, showing a range of orchard and citrus fruit flavors, superb minerality and amazing depth. The finish is a seemingly endless display of power, concentration and breadth of flavor."
-International Wine Cellar
After returning to Australia in 1980 to take up a position as assistant winemaker at Brown Brothers Milawa, he purchased land near the old Everton Hills Vineyard, and in 1982 commenced planting the classic varieties Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a small amount of Pinot Noir which was followed in 1986 by another acre. In the last five years, further plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have occurred, with a small amount of Roussanne.
The winery overlooks the vineyard and is constructed of local granite blocks and hand-made bricks. The wines are hand-crafted; in the case of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using traditional Burgundian methods, and the Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc according to classical Bordeaux techniques including long maceration. Only top quality French oak is employed.
The first release of Giaconda wines was in 1987 with the 1986 Chardonnay and the 1985 Cabernet blend. The wines have been keenly received by winemakers, retailers and enthusiasts alike. The wine press has accorded them many accolades and placed them at or near the top in a number of masked tastings.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is often misunderstood by consumers. It is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute critters on the label, though both can certainly be found here. It is impossible to make generalizations about a country this physically massive, but most regions are concentrated in the south of the country and experience either warm, dry weather, or more humid, tropical influence. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing and there is a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.