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Aussie Chardonnay and Riesling Reviewed

Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

May 2015

94 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE     Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2012
The Cullen Chardonnay seems to go from great to even greater. This is plump enough to be appealing now, yet with a strong frame of acidity to hold it together for the next 10 or more years. Toasted nuts and fresh pineapple aromas and flavors are exotic upfront, while the lemony finish is long and mouthwatering.

92 pts     Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2012
The centerpiece of Phil Sexton’s current venture (he previously founded and sold both a brewery and a winery) is this single vineyard, from which he makes a Pinot Noir and this wine. The 2012 Chard is a bold yet elegant wine, filled with grilled pineapple and citrus fruit and framed by hints of toasted nuts, vanilla and graphite.

92 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE     Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 2012
This is remarkably lush and full-bodied, yet remains lively and mouthwatering. Toasted nuts frame ample flavors of grilled pineapple and melon. Drink now–2017. The success of this wine should be a good indicator that, when released, the 2012 Art Series will be something spectacular.

92 pts     Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2011
One of the closest things there is to a can’t-miss wine, Leeuwin’s Chardonnay is always on form. The 2011 Art Series is flamboyantly oaked, with smoky, toasty, nutty notes layered over hints of white peach and grilled pineapple. It’s less rich than some vintages have been, but still appealingly mealy in texture. Drink now–2020.

91 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE     Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2013
Like an underripe nectarine, this tart, crunchy wine needs a bit time to mature. But instead of 2–3 days, think 2–3 years. Lime and mandarin orange notes are lean and crisp on the palate, austere for now, but surely going to blossom in time. 

91 pts     Yeringberg Chardonnay 2012
This is a nutty, toasty rendering of Chardonnay. Roasted cashew and cashew-butter notes frame subtle fruit elements reminiscent of white peach or pear. Despite a modest alcohol level, it’s reasonably rich in feel and flavor, finishing with flavors of fresh pineapple.

90 pts     Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay 2013
This reasonably full-bodied Chardonnay manages to retain a sense of freshness and crispness throughout. Subtle oak and vanilla notes frame peach and pineapple fruit, while the finish is long and citrusy clean.

89 pts     Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2013
Aromas of baking spices and pears lead the way, followed by flavors of pear and pineapple. This medium-bodied wine has a pleasantly toasty-grainy note as well, then finishes crisp and citrusy.

89 pts/CELLAR SELECTION     Kilikanoon Mort’s Reserve Riesling 2013
This is a lean, austere—even a bit severe—Riesling that looks to need a good five years or more to mellow. Crushed stone and citrus pith finish long and painfully tart. 

89 pts     Penley Estate Aradia Chardonnay 2011
Coonawarra is Cabernet country, but this Chardonnay is a solid contender. Subtle toast and citrus aromas show admirable restraint, while there’s ample weight and the flavors of pineapple and melon finish clean and citrusy.

88 pts     d’Arenberg The Dry Dam Riesling 2013
This wavers from the classic Australian recipe of dry Riesling to offer something with a touch of residual sugar (13.6 g/L). Notes of crushed stone, pineapple and lime are buttressed by tart acids, while the sugar helps to balance the finish. A strong candidate to pair with spicy-sweet Asian dishes.

88 pts     Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Riesling 2013
Lean. Linear. Crisp. Focused. This is textbook dry Riesling, showing lime aromas and flavors tinged with hints of talcum powder and beeswax. Drink it now, or hold up until at least 2023.

88 pts     Yeringberg Chardonnay 2013
Made in a lighter, more delicate style than many of its brethren, this is nevertheless fresh and flavorful. Pear, melon and white peach notes are framed by hints of toasted brioche, which takes on a slightly mocha-like character on the finish.

87 pts     Plantagenet Riesling 2013
The aromas and flavors of crushed stone, lime sherbet and green apple are spot on, but this crisp, medium-bodied dry Riesling lacks just a bit of texture and length. Try it as a mouthwatering apéritif.


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