First taste: a trio of Tumbarumba Eden Road Chardonnays
Talk about topical. At last week’s provocative Wine Australia History, Evolution and Revolution tasting, one taster questioned if the solids and sulphides’ tightly wound style of Chardonnay was just another fad. I’m a fan of this style of Chardonnay – we were tasting the excellent Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2013. And I’m a fan of other styles of Australian Chardonnay too – take Cullen or Leeuwin Estate Chardonnays (and indeed Vasse Felix’s new middle tier Chardonnay), which focus on the fruit power which Margaret River so ably delivers. Diversity of expression is where it’s at for me.
So I was delighted to discover this trio of Eden Road Chardonnays from New South Wales at the Hallowed Ground tasting a couple of days later. They are wonderfully pure, crisp cool climate Chardonnays from the elevated climes of Tumbarumba (the Maragle vineyard sits at 450m and the Courabyra at 750m). What’s more, the 2012 Courabyra Chardonnay won this heart and mind over to unoaked Chardonnays. In general, I’ve found Australian examples a little simple. Not a charge which can be levied at Courabyra. Here are my notes.
Eden Road The Long Road Chardonnay 2012 (Tumbarumba, New South Wales)
Fruit was sourced from two vineyards, Maragle (30 years old, at 450m) and Courabyra (28 years old, at 750m), planted to Penfolds clones V3/V11. Soil is decomposed granite with oxidised ironstone deposits. This wine was pressed directly to French oak barriques (10% new) and fermented (inoculated yeasts “for purity”) then aged on lees for 12 months. I’m not surprised to learn that the 2012 vintage had challenging rainstorms (with, in and amongst, enough sunshine to ripen the fruit) because Tumbarumba’s signature acidity is the most striking characteristic of the trio. Quite breathtaking in a good way, it lends a crunchy, super-fresh character to this wine’s grapefruit and softer, slightly creamy golden delicious fruit. With marvellous levity, it’s a marvellous entry level Chardonnay. 12.5%
Eden Road Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2012 (Tumbarumba, New South Wales)
From the same vineyards, this is a best barrel selection (although where the notes refer to this wine being fermented with indigenous yeasts, it can’t have come from the same batch as The Long Road?) At any rate, the markedly higher alcohol indicates that this cuvée is comprised of riper fruit. It was matured in barrel for 12 months on gross lees with weekly batonnage. It’s smokier on the nose, oak smoke, not sulphides flintiness, with steely grapefruit and buttered apples/creamy lees which, once again, softly, very gently flesh out the mid-palate before this wine’s rapier-like undertow of acidity pulls away and gallops off into the distance. Long and lip-smacking! 13.8%
Eden Road Courabyra Chardonnay 2012 (Tumbarumba, New South Wales)
This unoaked titular single vineyard cuvée was whole bunch pressed and fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and aged in stainless steel tanks on gross lees for 15 months (weekly batonnage). It’s very crisp on the entry with attractive subtle toasty nuances (which must be a function of autolytis/lees ageing since it’s unoaked) and equally subtle and softening ‘mineral,’ savoury leesiness through the mid-palate. Very elegant going through if a touch firm on the taut, verging on austere finish. But would be fabulous with oysters; in fact it brought to mind the wonderful Irish oysters I’d enjoyed the previous night from Chiltern Firehouse’s oyster cart – yum! 12.8%