Giaconda Vineyard, Chardonnay, Victoria, Australia, 2011
A mix of fruit and bacon on the nose with well-judged ripeness. Rich, full-bodied, very ripe and toasty palate – a full-throttle style with power and a good deal of oak, yet it has a lemony freshness and lovely balance. After a decade studying and working in California, Rick Kinzbrunner returned to his native Australia to seek out the right spot to plant a vineyard. He found it in the remote Beechworth area in northern Victoria, where Brown Brothers had planted many of its vineyards. He liked the clay and gravel soils, especially a sector with significant content of decomposed granite and quartz. From 1982 he planted an old Penfolds clone of Chardonnay with small berries at a high-lying, south-facing site. He was soon making a wine that was widely regarded as one of Australia’s finest. Barrel-fermented, it goes through full malolactic fermentation. Although Kinzbrunner only uses one-third new oak, the wine usually comes over as toasty and powerful, even though he does his best to reduce those characters by ageing the wine in his cool, underground cellar for up to 22 months. This 2011 was acclaimed with even more than the usual enthusiasm by the Australian wine press, and with good reason.