Penley Estate Chardonnay 1998
Alcohol: 13.6% by volume
Penley Estate is located in the center of Australia's most famous Cabernet region: Coonawarra. Continuing a family tradition that spans five generations, the winery was established in 1988 when the Tolley children continued the winemaking heritage of their pioneering families, Penfold and Tolley, both storied names in the Australian wine industry. In 1844, Mary Penfold defied stereotypes and was the driving force behind the establishment of McGill Estate. Similarly, from 1948-1961, Gladys Penfold Hyland was Penfold's Chairman of the Board. Their descendants, sisters Bec and Ang Tolley, run Penley Estate, proudly channeling the vim and might of their ancestors. Penley Estate's 240 acres of vineyards were planted atop Coonawarra's "terra rossa" soils with the aim of producing terroir-driven wines with distinctive regional character, and is now regarded as one of the region's leading Cabernet and Shiraz producers
Distinguished by a thin, subterranean band of crumbled, red clay loam, Coonawarra is a fairly flat, otherwise unobtrusive region with a cool Mediterranean climate, actually not dissimilar to Bordeaux.
In Coonawarra, this unique layer of red clay is called, "terra rossa" and gets its color from iron oxide. The terra rossa soil overlies soft, penetrable limestone, in a continuous area that is part of the Limestone Coast zone of South Australia. This uncommon layering of soils creates a substrate that is both well draining and at the same time, offers good water retention to support vine roots through dry summers.
Not surprisingly, Coonawara experiences great success with the Bordeaux varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also Shiraz. However Cabernet reigns superior and accounts for half of the Coonawarra harvest each year. Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon develops powerful, yet polished tannins, ripe, red berry fruit and often sweet herb or dried mint qualities. The region has an increased focus on the individual expressions of single vineyards.
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.