No other variety in the world of wine produces such extreme reactions from wine lovers as chardonnay; it seems everyone has a strong opinion about this variety.
But be warned; if you’re steering clear of chardonnay, based on its old-school rep, you’re missing out on one of the most exciting varieties in Australian wine.
Modern chardonnay winemakers are leaving behind the buttery, oaky wines of the past to produce wines that rival those of chardonnay’s homeland of Burgundy, and they’re re-inventing the variety in the process.
Chardonnay is still the most widely-grown white variety in Australia and is produced in virtually every wine-growing region of the country. While chardonnay is a wonderfully versatile grape variety, Montalto and other cool climate winemakers have an advantage over many other producers.
The growing conditions of the Mornington Peninsula allow chardonnay to ripen slowly while retaining the freshness of natural acidity that’s so important to achieving balance with this grape.
In Montalto winery, our aim is to produce a clearly distinctive house style displaying a collage of citrus fruits, relatively high levels of natural acidity balanced by malolactic fermentation (where tart malic acid in wine is converted to softer, creamier lactic acid), along with savoury textural complexity and minerality.
To achieve this depends on a well-thought-out winemaking strategy that uses both traditional and modern winemaking techniques.
Fruit is harvested early, at relatively low levels of sugar ripeness; the grapes are whole-bunch pressed straight to French oak barrels. The wines are fermented using wild yeast with no sulphur additions to encourage a certain amount of oxidation, resulting in more savoury qualities as opposed to rich, ripe fruitiness.
With high levels of acidity a part of the winemaking strategy, our chardonnays are encouraged to undergo full malolactic fermentation, which gives the wines a soft, generous mouthfeel. The wines are matured in the highest quality French oak barrels, which lends the wines an attractive hazelnut and crème brulee quality that provide additional complexity.
The recent string of medals, trophies and glowing reviews amassed by our current crop of chardonnays is a testament to the hard work and passion that is poured into these wines.
We’re working hard to be on the cutting edge of one of the most exciting varieties in Australia at the moment.
Watch out, white wine aficionados… Chardonnay is back.