Australia's white wine scene is a hotbed of quality, and very much on the up. The country's foremost wine communicator, Huon Hooke surveys new and established wineries, large and small, to name his top estates. As published in the Decanter July 2012 issue.
Although putatively based in Margaret River, Howard Park has adopted a determined southerly focus for its top whites. The Burch family wine business never sleeps: there’s a bewildering array of wines and new ones are constantly being added to the range. The most surprising thing is how good they all are, and a succession of top-notch winemakers has been pivotal: Janice McDonald is in charge today, while owner Jeff Burch, whose knowledge of wine is wide and deep, plays a key role. One superb Great Southern Riesling turn deserves another: now there’s also a single subregion Porongurup Riesling that’s equally thrilling. Concurrently, the Great Southern Chardonnay has been gradually refined into a tense, nervy, spinetingling wine which invites comparison with Chablis, yet in many ways is nothing like it. The Great Southern Sauvignon Blanc is also one of the best in Australia – again, unlike Loire or Marlborough but very much its own style. The Mad Fish range, especially the Gold Turtle Chardonnay, is also worth checking out.
Howard Park, Chardonnay, Great Southern 2009
Mealy and toasted, nutty to sniff, with a lively and intensely flavoured palate that’s fresh and zippy, lively and tangy, intense and tremendously persistent. Structure is tight and fine. An outstanding Chardonnay. 19pts/20
Price: £20.85–£21.71 Bibendum, Slurp