2022 Garagiste Le Stagiaire Chardonnay - Mornington Peninsula
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This year's blend is drawn from Balnarring, Tuerong, Merricks and Red Hill. The fruit was sorted in both the vineyard and winery and whole-bunch pressed directly to 500-litre puncheons. Fermentations were natural, with no temperature control, and were followed by an eight-month élevage on gross lees to slowly build richness. Barney doesn’t chase malo in his Chardonnay, he doesn’t test for it and his winery doesn’t have a strong malo bug presence. Plus, in 2022 the acidities were ‘spot on’ so there was no need round out the edges. So, there’s a small bit of malo at work here, but just a smidge.
Boy does Flanders do good Chardonnay. The new release is racy, energetic and fine, with intensely concentrated citrus and floral aromas kissed by notes of fennel and rocky minerals. As with the Pinot Noir, there’s a terrific wave of acidity, here dicing the wine’s fleshy, svelte texture with tensile vigour before a stadium finish of citrus-fuelled energy. If this all sounds too to be true for a wine of this price, it isn’t. An absolute belter.