2021 Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay
    12.5% Adelaide Hills/Tasmania, RRP $50

    It may surprise people, but Penfolds makes some terrific white wines. With Chardonnay their experience cascades down through Yattarna, then the vintage ‘A’, their cellar-door reserve, to the Bin 311 – and others. 

    But even though down the pecking order, the Bin 311 Chardonnay is all class. Blending across regions can truly add synergy, and a positive outcome.

    It’s a pale straw colour, then comes a well-controlled component of struck flint, while my own prized grapefruit character absolutely shines through. 

    The stylish palate combines crispness, minerals and masterful creaminess. It’s got that ‘now I see a bit more going on’ complexity with each taste.

    Wake up! Big companies can provide extreme quality with the economies of scale to over-deliver value (yes, sometimes even Penfolds). 

    This modern Oz Chardonnay may surprise, rouse and invigorate jaded senses. Easy to find at retail outlets, it will come to no harm if held for five years, refreshing with almost any fish dish or white meats (schnitzel calls), yet with the grace and power to deal with creamy sauces with aplomb. Don’t chill it much, let the fruit speak! 


    Santolin ‘Il Capo’ Nero D’Avola/Negroamaro blend. Heathcote 2019
    ABV 14.5% RRP $29

    With fruit sourced from vineyards in Heathcote, this blend showcases 90% Nero D’Avola which is indigenous to Sicily (Italy’s toe) and a 10% splash of Negroamaro which originally hails from Puglia (Italy’s heel). 

    The Nero provides fresh florals, red currants and a slatey core while the Negroamaro cranks up the fruit richness, body and palate weight. As the wine opens up in the glass I noticed ever more interesting characteristics of blood orange peel, galangal and campari. 

    What I love about this wine is its clear effort to remain true to the old world style, whereby aromatics are sweet, pretty and powerful; yet the palate lends itself more to restraint, elegance and texture so that its versatility with what you choose to pair the wine with is huge. 100% wild ferment on whole berries, natural malo-lactic conversion and a good 14 months maturation in 1 and 2 year old oak barrels, this inexpensive drop has a poise and finesse to it. 

    There’s a deliberateness to the winemaking which I admire and appreciate. Their website offers free shipping on any dozen-bottle order. I’ve also tried Santolin’s Arneis and Vermentino which I’m sure will dominate my wine rack when the weather warms up.

    Pair with: Slow cooked BBQ Pork ribs with a red apple slaw. 

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