Balance, class and value: At $27 a bottle this top-notch French dozen is just white
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If you enjoy Australian chardonnay, you must take your palate back to where it all began – back to Burgundy, the home of the world’s most popular white grape.
For many, chardonnay from this pretty French region is the gold standard. And like other “originals” – such as cabernet sauvignon from Bordeaux, tempranillo from Rioja or nebbiolo from Barolo – the combination of local climate, soil and winemaking technique means the taste of white Burgundy cannot be exactly replicated elsewhere.
Knowing where to start sourcing good “white burg” – without wasting a fistful of dollars – is the tricky part. This is where The Australian Wine Club comes in, with a beautiful white Burgundy leading a selection of chardonnays in our mixed dozen deal of the week.
It’s a way to venture into new territory and sample something different that would normally sell for a far higher price.
Our white Burgundy – the Domaine de Bellene Coteaux Bourguignons L’Eclos des Abeilles 2020 – is an ideal place to start as it’s what I call a “Goldilocks” chardonnay. That is, it’s flavour profile is not purely driven by fruit but neither is the wine dominated by oak flavours. It is in the middle of the chardonnay taste spectrum.
Burgundy winemaker Nicolas Potel, above, draws his chardonnay from across three different densely planted vineyards in the villages of Nuits-St-Georges and Saint-Romain.
He is regarded as a leading light among a new breed of winemakers who have modernised the business by sourcing grapes from highly rated estates across Burgundy rather than just one vineyard or one village (or commune).
This allows quality to remain consistent across different vintages (and seasonal climates) rather than being captive to one area.
Nicolas had little choice but to adopt this approach following the sudden death in 1997 of his father, Gerard, one of Burgundy’s most respected winemakers. His death resulted in the family estate having to be sold and Nicolas was left to build from nothing.
His efforts to create high-quality wines across different price points have won the praise of Masters of Wine who specialise in Burgundy.
Tim Atkin, British Master of Wine and international wine show judge, describes Nicolas’s L’Eclos des Abeilles 2020 as “the latest in a series of brilliant generic whites”, while the well-respected author of Inside Burgundy, Jasper Morris MW, says his wines are “in the class of the very best that Burgundy can produce”.
I certainly can’t pretend to have the expertise of these judges but I can say beyond a shadow of doubt that if you enjoy good middle-of-the-road chardonnay, you won’t regret venturing into the realm of white Burgundy at this price.
Nectarine, yellow peach and yellow myrtle aromas waft together with hints of creme brulee, dried honey and nougat. Lovely rounded texture on the palate; voluptuous and creamy but with fresh citrusy acid and minerality. Aged in seasoned French oak barrels with 100% malolactic fermentation. Made without any added sulphur. 12% alc; RRP $65 a bottle.
From the southwest corner of WA comes a soft, well-rounded stunner that scored 98 points from Winestate Magazine. Aromas of yellow nectarine, lime sorbet, vanilla oak and mandarin zest lead to a palate of stone fruit, vanilla and spice. Excellent value. 14.5% alc; RRP $40 a bottle.
Sourced from Mount Crawford in the Eden Valley. White peach and nectarine on the nose, with a hint of flint. Dried apricots and brioche flavours course through the palate, with cinnamon oatmeal notes. Thorn Clarke can do no wrong. 92 points from Team Halliday. 13% alc; RRP $30 a bottle.
Bigger style of chardonnay. Peaches, caramel and nut brittle on the nose. White peach and ripe honeydew melon combine with buttery toffee to provide a pleasing tasting experience. 13% alc; RRP $30 a bottle.
Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.