Australian producer De Bortoli has won mutliple awards for both their white and red wines
If you want world-class Chardonnay, where do you look? France? California? Well, once you weigh up consistency, quality and value, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place than Australia. Aussie Chardonnays used to be big, rich and buttery, and no stranger to oak. And while those fruit-packed, sunshine-in-a-bottle wines still exist, the serious winemakers have moved on, and Australia is now producing top-notch Chardonnays that give many a white Burgundy a run for their money.
The other great white Aussie success story is Riesling. This underappreciated grape variety thrives in the Clare and Eden Valleys, where it produces lip-smackingly refreshing wines bursting with notes of lime zest, as well as razor-sharp acidity. And as it ages, it develops complex toasty notes with a pronounced kerosene note (a good thing!), something you’ll find in IWSC winners Leonay Mature Release Riesling 2013 from Leo Buring and Peter Lehmann’s Wigan Riesling 2013.
White Rhône varieties are also having their moment in the sun. Viognier has long been used to add an aromatic note to Shiraz, but when paired with stablemates Marsanne and Rousanne, it comes into its own and delivers exotic notes of peach, apricot and almond – you’ll find two excellent examples in the list of IWSC winners below.
The joy of Australian wine is the sense of adventure, and the way the country’s winemakers are constantly on the lookout for new areas and grapes varieties – Fiano, Vermentino and Arneis have done particularly well in recent years, and you can guarantee there’ll be more to come. Here are the best Australian white wines from the IWSC’s 2020 tasting.
Il Liris Chardonnay 2018
Richly-layered cornucopia of aromatic oral pleasure; ripe yellow plum, exotic blooms, woodsmoke, citrus, lime curd, bacon and pineapple. Elegant, refined, controlled with a mouth-watering acidity and a finely textured palate. A superb citrus scented, stone fruit finish. Longevity and grace. 13%
Rutherglen Estate Shelley's Block Marsanne-Viognier-Roussanne 2019
What a complex, charming and charismatic individual. Gorgeous ginger entwines with lychee, and enticing exotic fruits. There's explosions of peach and apricot, laced up with delicate white flowers. Tarte au citron, lush yoghurt, and alluring almond. 12.5%
Leonay Mature Release Watervale Riesling 2013
An outstanding example of developed Riesling with yellow citrus, lime curd and complex notes of kerosene, toast, truffle and salinity. Powerful and elegant, showing great tension, power and finesse. A refreshing acidic line runs through the wine. 12%
Leonay Mature Release Riesling 2013
Exceptional Riesling! Restrained, refined, steely and focused. Fresh yet mature; pithy racy and vibrant with classical petrol notes and flinty, smoked, mineral-laced acidity. First in class. 11%
TED Edward Andrew Chardonnay 2017
Bird in Hand
Creamy, seductive, jasmine-scented honeyed beeswax and lemon meringue adorn this dreamily textured, harmonious cornucopia of a wine. Sublimely lengthy, substantial of weight, acidity and fruit; made for food. Classical profile and the potential to live forever. 13.5%
Diamond Chardonnay 2019
Juxtaposition of cool, fresh, zingy fruit and buttery biscuit. Heady blooms and well-calibrated oak supplies smoke, toast and a balancing bitterness. Outstandingly focused, linear with luscious depth. Huge ageing potential. 13%
HRB Chardonnay 2017
Seduced on the nose by aromas of smoke and reductive notes. The palate has a lovely texture and acidity, creating the hallmarks of a wine that will age well in bottle. 13%. £20; Harvey Nichols (2015 vintage)
Wigan Riesling 2013
Fabulously evolved aromatics; classical struck match, flint, smoke and kerosene leap from the glass and onto the palate. Harmonious, multi-faceted, fresh and tantalising. Has years to run. 11%. £15.50; The Wine Society
Bin 51 Riesling 2020
Vibrantly spritzy, persistent and clean. Energised by lime, greengage, stone fruit, flower and mineral notes. Lengthy finish and an appealing sour tang on the palate. Huge ageing potential. 11.9%. £25.99; Cadman Fine Wines
Well Marsanne 2018
Lake Cooper Estate
Ginger and floral. Savoury and tangy with eloquent elderflower and zesty orange. Proudly nutty with notes of pistachio and quince jelly. Complex and charming. 13.1%