Étoile is the pinnacle of wines produced at Chandon in the Yarra Valley says Dan Buckle, who is Chandon Australia’s winemaking director and the creator of Étoile. This is the inaugural release of the Chandon Australia Étoile Brut. The sparkling wine is a multi-vintage, or MV, and a multi-regional: it uses an extensive museum of Vintage Brut wines.
"We chose the eight most complementary vintages, dating back to 2005, to create a master blend that is truly Australian, and something more layered and harmonious as a consequence of careful blending."
James Halliday just awarded the Étoile 97 points, and featured it in his 2023 Top 100, writing "...it has exceptional balance, poise and length, with flavours spanning white peach to croissant, leading to a lingering, fresh finish."
Chandon Australia in the Yarra Valley.
For Dan, this release is something he's been thinking about for two and a half decades. "In some ways, James was part of the inspiration behind this wine. When I was a cellar hand at Coldstream, over that time, he opened some of the great wines of the world. James is known for his incredible generosity with wine. Tasting these wines showed me the extent of astounding complexity that could integrate with such completeness, and set me on a path to dream of making a wine of this calibre one day. Twenty-five years later, I’m so pleased with what my team and I have achieved, and to see that mirrored in James’ review is great source of pride.
"It’s the product of an ambition to do something truly remarkable and new with Australian sparkling wine. With Étoile, we didn’t set out to follow the rules, we set out to make the best expression of Australian sparkling wine. The result is a blend which is both multi-regional and multi-vintage, and a wine that heroes the quality of outstanding Australian fruit while adding layers of complexity through age and oak."
Dan Buckle, Chandon Australia’s winemaking director.
The Chandon Australia Étoile Brut MV is a blend of vintages – 2005 (6%), 2009 (1%), 2011 (4%), 2012 (19%), 2013 (47%), 2014 (4%), 2015 (10%) and 2016 (9%) – and the varieties included are pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. A true multi-regional wine, the grapes come from the Whitlands High Plateau in North East Victoria, the Yarra Valley, the Strathbogie Ranges, Macedon and Tasmania.
In terms of the process, the Chandon team start with an array of base wines and blend them together. And then that's when the artistry starts. "A finely honed pattern recognition is necessary to identify the characteristics of quality in young wines that will evolve through the 'black box' that is the traditional method – the alchemy of yeast and time. It’s easy to age wine; it’s easy to make a wine that’s toasty and mature. It’s far more difficult to use time to elaborate on flavour while retaining a sense of vibrancy and fresh vitality. This is part of the work in Étoile."
After heading into the sparkling season with such success, Dan says the team are looking to the second release of the wine and looking forward to sharing more exceptional sparkling wine with Australia. "I’m so pleased with the results, another truly special wine that I can’t wait to share." He says the Étoile Brut is a celebration or milestone wine. "This is an exceptional wine best suited to an exceptional moment. Toast with your loved ones to mark life’s great moments."
Chandon Australia Étoile Brut MVWith its pale straw hue and delicate, yet persistent mousse, this sparkling wine is truly exceptional from the very first glance. On the nose it tantalises with aromas of Asian pear, white peach and finger lime with an undercurrent of macadamia butter and hints of apple blossom. The palate reveals waves of yuzu, bergamot and white peach floating on pistachio nougat with whispers of pastry and allspice. Characters bursting with radiance integrate seamlessly. There’s tightly wound acidity and a surprising level of brightness and vibrancy. Autolytic notes from the wine’s extended age are smooth and subtle, ginger-nutty. The ageing of reserve wines in 205-litre pièce champenoise barrels as well as large foudres adds further complexity and a well-integrated soft, toasty dimension. Overall, there is a sense of plenty, embraced with mesmerising restraint. Completeness and harmony. RRP $120.
Dan's suggested food pairing: It’s a wonderful pairing with local crayfish. The strength and elegance of the wine enhances the sweetness of the meat while elevating toasty notes in the sparkling, with a refreshing, yet opulent finish.
The Chandon Australia Étoile Brut MV is available now. For more information visit chandon.com.au.