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McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Chardonnay 2013
The wines made by McWilliam’s are more than just benchmark expressions of Australian winemaking. They are wines that draw on more than 135 years of experience, wines that tell a story of a family’s passion for winemaking.
Since the time Samuel McWilliam planted his first vines, the McWilliam family history has been closely intertwined with the stories of the New South Wales and Australian wine industries. From JJ McWilliam’s ambitious plan to pioneer Griffith as a wine region to more recent viticultural ventures in other parts of New South Wales, the McWilliam family has been a leader in the journey that has seen Australian wines move to the forefront of international respect and popularity. From humble beginnings, the family winery has continued to grow in size and stature. The knowledge, skill and passion that results from such a long family involvement in the Australian wine industry is the reason behind the quality and distinction of each bottle of wine produced by McWilliam’s.
A philosophy of excellence in winemaking has been the backbone of the family vision for over a century, with a particular emphasis on sourcing the finest fruit possible. The continued popularity and acclaim for the wines of McWilliam’s is testament to an unfaltering mission that has been carried from each generation to the next, like a family heirloom.
Today, McWilliam’s sources from vineyards in premium wine regions across New South Wales, including the Riverina, Hilltops, Tumbarumba and Orange. The family has honoured Samuel McWilliam’s faith in the value of the New South Wales land and climate by continuing to lead and further the growth of the local wine industry.
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.