Big, buttery chardonnays: Three to try

The Australian wine industry seems to have all but deserted the big, buttery style so many drinkers still crave.
The Australian wine industry seems to have all but deserted the big, buttery style so many drinkers still crave. Photo: Michel O'Sullivan

 The swing away from rich, buttery, golden chardonnays to finer, more restrained styles in recent years has left a lot of wine-lovers high and dry. The pared-back styles certainly age well, and are appetising and more-ish. But it's curious the Australian wine industry seems to have all but deserted the big-n-buttery style that so many drinkers still crave. Where can we find them today? New Zealand still produces some: butteriness usually comes from malolactic fermentation, which most Kiwis still practise. And California is a happy hunting ground for opulent chardonnay. Generosity is also a feature of Margaret River chardonnays.

La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 2017, California, $35 

Score 89

With its medium to full yellow colour, this traditional American chardonnay has a powerful buttery bouquet with tinges of citrus peel. In the mouth, it's opulent, round and velvet textured. It's quite forward and has generous flavour without being too oaky or alcoholic. Diam cork; 13.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Best within three years.

Stockists include Wine Square & Annandale Cellars (NSW); Winehouse & WineSeek (Vic).

Bird In Hand Chardonnay 2018, Adelaide Hills, $42 

Score 91

This big, powerful chardonnay has a voluminous butter and butterscotch bouquet and is full-bodied, broad and open-knit to taste. The big finish includes a subtle tannin grip. It suits flavoursome white meat dishes like roast chicken. Screw-cap; 13 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to seven years.

Stockists include Cloudwine Cellars, Melbourne (Vic); Chambers Cellars and North Sydney Hotel (NSW).

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Arlewood Chardonnay 2018, Margaret River, $32 

Score 95

This lovely wine is amazing value for money, with ripe nectarine and grapefruit aromas embellished with lightly toasted cashew nut, while the taste is not so much buttery but intense and generous, no doubt thanks to the region but also possibly the Gingin chardonnay clone. Screw-cap; 13.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to eight years.

Stockists include Vintage Cellars, Mosman (NSW); Brighton Bay Cellars, Melbourne (Vic).