TarraWarra Estate's winery and art museum. Photo: Shannon Morris
Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay 2012, $19
As one of Australia's biggest chardonnay fans (OK, there are a few of us), I always keep a stash for everyday drinking. That's where Hoddles Creek Estate comes in. It makes several excellent chardonnays, and the estate is a mid-tier wine that punches well above its weight. The 2012 is tightly coiled with hints of lemon zest and curd; it's super-tangy with bright acidity, lovely texture with a leesy character that adds to its complexity and palate. This will continue to blossom over seven years, but if drinking today, spaghetti marinara is a neat partner. From Boccaccio Cellars.
Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Barkala Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay 2012, $36
Oakridge is a premium chardonnay producer that sources fruit from vineyards across the Yarra Valley to highlight the differences between them. There is, however, a stylistic thread as a result of the winemaking, which creates a tighter, more linear style mostly to great effect. The Barkala Ridge is textural, too, and has that moreish palate so distinctive of Oakridge. It's worth decanting. Try with pan-fried flathead in a burnt butter sauce. From Oakridge Wines, Coldstream.
TarraWarra Reserve Chardonnay 2011, $50
TarraWarra's reserve wines comprise the best barrels of fruit from the oldest vineyards and, hence, the quality of this wine is without question. While the 2011 has the distinct and appealing TarraWarra stone-fruit richness and wood spice from the barrels, there's a restraint here ensuring the wine isn't too opulent. It's nicely composed, yet there's a depth of flavour with zest and Nashi pear, roundness and creaminess on the full palate and plenty of savouriness. A perfect chardonnay with roast chicken sprinkled with sumac. From Prince Wine Store, South Melbourne.
Mea Culpa Chardonnay 2011, $60
I'm totally blown away by this wine - one of the most focused and utterly delicious chardonnays as it strikes a balance between subtlety while offering loads of character and complexity. How does it do that? The people from Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps make Mea Culpa and pay a lot of attention to detail - from how the fruit grows to the clones and the site. As it states on the back label, there's ''no meddling'' in the winery. This has loads of spice, especially ginger, with grapefruit, stone fruit and figs, but mostly it has great texture. From Innocent Bystander, Healesville.