This is definitely a Rombauer-buster. By that, I mean: a beautiful Chardonnay which–although quite oaky and buttery–reflects SOOO much more varietal character and interest in the glass for those coming from that ilk and possibly able to expand their horizons. It would be a great *graduating* wine, possibly opening the eyes to new possibilities and nuances outside their preferred rut. It is not cheap–and neither is Rombauer–so would fit the category nicely on the shelf. Clear and pale, the oak & butter on the nose is sharpened by a green streak and a chunk of flint. There’s a smoky cloak over lush varietal fruit, churning tropical fruit against a shrubbery backdrop. Not particularly MY style of Chardonnay, but as a reviewer, I have to try a lot of wines, and I’m trying to keep an open mind–especially when it comes to a style RIDICULOUSLY popular. And I can see a lot of bright points in this version.
Tasting it alleviates some of the concerns inflicted by the smell. Concentrated and thick, a *perceived sweetness* is modified and enlightened by copious acid, more flinty depth, and sharp citrus filling. Almost spritzy on entry, it quickly fills the mouth with firm apricot and pineapple, toasty fall leaves in huge piles on green lawns, a spicy backdrop injecting life and energy into round fruit. Gorgeously bitter in finish, tannin prods it along in a positive direction. It is a quite lovely wine, with scant flab and never feeling too weighty or manipulatedly robust. I love the acidic points of texture giving the wine an almost ‘light’ or even ‘thin’ feeling on center palate. And I love the finish: tannin grinding gobs of spritely mineralific Chardonnay essence into every pore DECADES after swallowing. But the oak & malo is definitely there–and must be dealt with. And they’ve dealt with it in a brilliant way here. I want to pour this for every oak & butter lover out there.
2019 PENFOLD’S Bin 311 Chardonnay South Australia 13.0