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RockBare Reserve Chardonnay 2002
Filled with flavor, this classy cool climate chardonnay has the flavor momentum and balance to improve with age over the next five years.
The Adelaide Hills produce some of Australia's finest and most sought after Chardonnays. The cool RockBare Adelaide Hills Chardonnay has a restrained and elegant style reflective of this cool climate region.
The coolest summer on record in the Adelaide Hills has produced one RockBare's best efforts. The cool and unbelievably slow ripening period allowed for gradual flavor development, resulting in a most complex and powerful wine, that optimizes why Adelaide Hills is the home of Australia's premium Chardonnays.
Tim gained extensive winemaking experience working at Southcorp, where he was responsible for making one of Australia's most expensive premium Chardonnays, Yattarna. But when Tim created the RockBare label in 2000, he decided to incorporate winemaking techniques that go back a hundred years or more. Using a minimal-filtering or no-filtering approach and very little oak aging, Tim makes wines with complex flavors driven by the fruit.
McLaren Vale has a moderate, Mediterranean-style climate that's ideal for growing super-high quality grapes. Spring and summer days are warm and dry. Nights are cool and breezy. Only slightly above sea level, the vale is characterized by beautiful, rolling hills with deep, rich alluvial soils that tend to be brown and red clays. Since Tim works with a wide array of grape growers, some of the grapes come from old vines and some from new. But all are highly characteristic of the grapes that produce the bright, flavorful and aromatic wines for which McLaren Vale is famous.
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.