Penfolds Max's Chardonnay 2018
Light straw in color. Subtle stone fruits, yellow peach, nectarine and faint wafts of citrus are foremost. Upon further swirling, hints of floral notes shine through, Jasmine and white rose petal perfume, and a touch of Ginger spice. Oak is present but in balance and offering a nutty/ nougat nuance. Fresh flavors of stone fruit, citrus and grapefruit pith. Creamy, crème brulee-like French oak lingers with a lovely flinty, wet stone/chalky acid line, closing out with an intriguing waxy phenolic finish.
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From 1948 to 1975, Max Schubert gained global recognition for Penfolds while serving as its winemaker. This tribute to him in the form of a French oak–aged Chardonnay has aromas of cashew brittle, baked apple, and lemon blossom. High levels of brightness show on the palate with lime zest and white cake. Marvelous acidity keeps it fresh.
In typical Penfolds style, this is a glossy Chardonnay, with balance, finesse and nary a hair out of place. Lifted aromas of pineapple rind, grapefruit, white flower blossoms and flint morph towards cashew and toasted brioche as the wine warms in glass. It’s slick in texture, with a lovely line of acidity. The oak is present but supportive. A saline note lingers on the finish. Drink now
Penfolds has been producing remarkable wines since 1844 and indisputably led the development of Australian fine wine in the modern era. The introduction of Penfolds Grange in 1951 forever changed the landscape of Australian fine wine. Since then a series of stand-out wines both white and red have been released under the Penfolds masthead.
Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker and only the 4th custodian of Grange, relishes the opportunity to bring Penfolds to the world stage and is an enthusiastic ambassador and natural educator. Penfolds came to the attention of the US market when 1990 Grange was Wine Spectator’s ‘Wine of the Year’. Since then, Penfolds Grange has become one of the most collectable wines of the world and was honored to grace the front cover, once again, of Wine Spectator, with declarations of Grange as Australia’s Icon.
A narrow band of hills and valleys east of the city of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills region is a diverse landscape featuring a variety of microclimates. In general it is moderate with high-altitude areas cooler and wetter compared to its warmer, lower areas.
Piccadilly Valley, the part of Adelaide Hills closest to the city, was first staked out by a grower named Brian Croser, in the 1970s for a cool spot to grow Chardonnay, then uncommon in Australia. Today a good amount of the Chardonnay goes to winemakers outside of the region.
Producers here experiment with other cool-climate loving aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, Viognier and Riesling. Charming sparkling wine is also possible. On its north side, lower, west-facing slopes make full-bodied Shiraz.
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.