2017 Sandalford Margaret River Range Chardonnay
The mild spring conditions merged into a warm and dry start to summer, with the vines on track slightly earlier than normal. These conditions were interrupted in mid-January 16, with 70mm of rain falling in the vineyard due to a tropical rain event. With this moisture came the challenge of increased fungal pressure on the fruit - 2 weeks out from the white harvest (leading to a very stressed Viticulturalist and Winemaker). For the reds, it gave them a much appreciated drink in the lead up to harvest in late March. Despite this challenge, all fruit harvested was of exceptional quality, showing intense varietal characters.
This Chardonnay fruit was machine picked in the middle of the night, when at it's coldest. The fruit was immediately processed and using the free run juice only, underwent a long, slow ferment in stainless steel tanks with specially selected yeast strains. This wine underwent no Malolactic Fermentation. Minimal lees contact before being blended, filtered and bottled.
Meet the maker
Growing up on a wheat and sheep farm is not your traditional start to a winemaking career. However, it was driving through the Swan Valley on the way to Perth that started my interest in grapes. They were always beautiful and green quite a contrast to the dry and dusty terrain from the farm. During my final year of studies at the University of Adelaide, I commenced working at Petaluma in the Adelaide Hills, and this seeded my love of Riesling. After 18 months, I decided to explore the world of wine and for the next several years was a flying winemaker, working alternate vintages in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In the north, this took me to France (Languedoc, Cognac & a couple of days in Bordeaux) and many times to Oregon, USA. This is where my love of Pinot was born. Back in Australia, I also explored Margaret River, Geographe, Clare Valley, SA and Macedon Ranges, Vic. In January 2007, coming back to WA, I joined Sandalford as Winemaker and in December 2012, was offered the Senior Winemaker position. To talk about my winemaking philosophy, is to first understand the vineyards. My role is to let the grapes shine and ensure they reflect the vineyard site they're from. The fruit source for all of our wines, are paramount to their success, and I'm incredibly lucky to have one of the oldest vineyards in Margaret River to work with.
A blend of stone fruits and citrus - there's peaches, nectarines with lemon and grapefruit.
With no oak influence, this wine is all about the fruit. The stone fruits and citrus from the nose are all on the palate, joined with a marzipan and cashew nut character. The wine is textural and layered, with an underlying creaminess all balanced with a beautiful line from the crisp acidity. Serve lightly chilled and enjoy.
From the summer rainfall & river flooding in the Swan Valley, to the threat of not ripening any of the red grapes in Margaret River, the 2017 vintage will be remembered as one of the most nerve-racking and anxious seasons. It certainly beats all of the last 10 vintages I've seen at Sandalford. Overall, the whole growing season, from Spring through to Summer / Autumn was much cooler than average. There were no heat extremes this year. This delayed the ripening of all varieties by at least 3 -4 weeks than normal. For the whites, the wines have excellent flavour concentration and structure and were harvested with a good natural acid and sugar balance.
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