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Chardonnay is Australia’s best variety, says Jefford

Australian Chardonnay competes with top level Burgundy ‘effortlessly’, according to Andrew Jefford.

Writing in the November issue of Decanter magazine, Jefford says the variety should be held up as Australia’s example of how to express varietal and regional characters across a broad range of climates.

Chardonnay’s success, he suggests, could help other varieties become more consistent.

‘After tasting a few thousand Australian wines over the past 18 months, I’ve no doubt that it’s Chardonnay, not Shiraz or Cabernet, which is Australia’s most consistently successful variety.’

‘Since the early ’80s, it has been grown in nearly every region of Australia with some success, and some regions have emerged as being highly suited to the variety.’

Jefford recently returned from a year researching in terroir in Australia.

He attributes much of Chardonnay’s success to Australian winemakers who, he says, are world leaders in making Chardonnay.

‘Australians are adept crafters of wines – their theoretical knowledge of the processes involved is unmatched, and their tasting skills refined.’

‘There is no variety that responds better to craft than Chardonnay, and the greatest Australian examples are perfect syntheses of grape, place and intellectual understanding.’

The Decanter columnist has previously lambasted Australia’s handling of other grape varieties. In the July issue of Decanter magazine, he issued a controversial warning to Australian vineyard owners, suggesting that Shiraz was ‘ill-suited’ to the Barossa.

‘The past quarter-century will eventually be viewed as lost time: a period during which many of Australia’s greatest terroirs underperformed, with sometimes ill-suited varieties lingering for too long in the wrong locations.

‘An example of the latter – and I accept that this will seem heretical to many – is Shiraz in the Barossa and McLaren Vale.’

Jefford is currently writing a book on Australian wine, focussing on terroir, due to be published in 2012.

You can read the full article in the November issue of Decanter magazine – out now.

Written by John Abbott

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