Wednesday, 8 May 2019

New-style chardonnay is back in fashion

Chardonnay went through a rocky spell with wine consumers but new stats show it is experiencing double-digit sales growth in Australia – and wine lovers are happy to pay for quality. 

Sales of premium chardonnay (wines in the $20-$30 price range) have increased 12% year-on-year according to data from Dan Murphy’s and BWS. 

“Australian chardonnay is one of the most exciting wine categories in the world today." says Andrew Caillard MW, Fine Wine Principal at Dan Murphy’s and BWS. 

"The quality and value is explosively good with so much diversity of style yet precision and superb fruit definition. 

Tthe sales data shows Margaret River chardonnay makes up approximately 15% of total chardonnay sales in the country – this despite the region only producing 3% percent of Australia’s total crush. 


Margaret River winemaker Freya Hohnen (right) believes the uniqueness of the wine region together with the collaborative spirit of the winemaking community has helped the region excel in chardonnay.

“Some winemakers in the 1990s were making overly oaky and buttery styles of chardonnay, and it became very uncool to drink chardonnay all of a sudden," Hohnen recalls. 

"The term ABC – Anything But Chardonnay – became popular. 

"Today, Margaret River chardonnay has found its sweet spot. It’s not too lean and not too powerful – and the feedback from wine drinkers is that this is the kind of chardonnay they love.” 

Margaret River is a diverse region, and some pockets have similar growing conditions to the famed Burgundy region in France, which makes the world’s best chardonnays. 


“Margaret River is a very special region where the two oceans moderate the climate, so you have this growing season where it never gets too hot nor too cold,” Hohnen says.

 Freya grew up on the estate of Cape Mentelle, which was co-founded by her father David Hohnen, one of the original Margaret River pioneers. 

She has recently released a Margaret River chardonnay she has named Once & Well, after a motto her father instilled in her. “He taught me that if you do something once and you do it well, you don’t have to do it all over again, so the name is an homage to one of the many great lessons he has taught me over the years,” she said. 

“I wanted to make a premium chardonnay that was accessible to all Australians, and an expression of the region, which is how the idea behind Once & Well was born. The grapes are from different sites, so you get a blend of tropical flavours and citrus characters. The end result is a lovely, balanced Margaret River chardonnay.” 

I've sampled the wine and it is spot on stylistically, well balanced and definitely gluggable. There is bright varietal fruit and a delicious crisp finish.  

Once & Well is available at Dan Murphy’s for $20.90 (a bargain in my book), as well as at selected BWS stores.

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