Monday, November 14, 2011

Leeuwin Estate Art Series: the best Chardonnay outside Burgundy?

Last week I wanted a really good Chardonnay. I rooted through my white Burgundies, bottles from  Sonoma County vintners I like, and one great one from Chile, but when my hand touched this, it was all over.

It seems like Americans never talk about Australian wine anymore, except with words like "crisis" or "drought." Looking at wine lists, it feels like the top end Aussie wines have dropped off most people's radar.

So here's a little reminder that Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay from Margaret River very well might be the single best Chardonnay outside of Burgundy. Other Chards have great years, but this wine is great every vintage. It's frequently in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year, but don't let that mislead you -- while often full-bodied and always full-flavored, it's a real wine-lover's wine.

It's not cheap, at $70 retail, but when you price that against single-vineyard wines from Montrachet, et al, it's not really that expensive either.

Specifically, the wine I had last night was this:

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2007 ($70)
Noble treatment in the cellar doesn't contain this wine's feral nature. It starts off wild, mushroomy if you like, but really it's funkier than that, and it rolls for a while, smoothing out as it goes, but never getting meek. It's more of an oatmeal, fermented buckwheat pancake, wheat toast, wild mushroom soup experience than fruit, but there is some golden apple in there too. It's a truly great wine that wins your attention sip after sip. I liked it best in a globe-shaped glass that let the aromas run free. Point score: 97

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  1. I wholly concur with your thoughts in Leeuwin Estate's chardonnay and the 2007 in particular, which I loved in 2010. Rarely misses a beat.


  2. It is my go-to Chard when I am not drinking Burgundy. Aubert is not bad juice though.