On top scores, chardonnay ranks a very close third behind shiraz and cabernet for the strongest category in Australian wine today. Margaret River again towers above all others, alone putting forth a tremendous showing of more than half of this year’s standouts. Of the balance, the Yarra Valley stands tall, responsible for almost two-thirds.
No surprise that, just like last year, the two regions went head-to-head with Penfolds Yattarna in the final taste-off. And just to prove that lightening can strike in the same place twice, Oakridge 864 was also again a contender for top three. To have two of the same three wines come forward in one of the finest and largest classes in successive years, one judged revealed and the other blind, proves that great wines ultimately triumph, regardless of method. On first vote all three scored equally, and on revote, there was just one vote between them, with Stella Bella Luminosa a stunning winner. All three are deserving – don’t miss them.
2023 Chardonnay of the Year
98 points | Price when tasted $70
Wild fermented in French barriques; neither fined nor filtered. A very complex wine of immediate power, with a deliberately funky bouquet, then changing tack with the glorious purity and focus of the palate, white peach, grapefruit, cashew and almond combining in a single stream of joy. – James Halliday
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*This is an edited extract from the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Ned Goodwin MW, James Halliday, Erin Larkin, Jeni Port, Philip Rich and chief editor Tyson Stelzer.