Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2011 South Australia
13 Jul 2012 by Jancis Robinson

⁞From $7.99, £6.66,12.50 Swiss francs, Aus$13.99

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You may remember there was a bit of a hoo-ha about the 2009 vintage of this wine. As I described here, it was included in one of the practical papers of last year's Master of Wine exam and more than half of the candidates took it for a smart white burgundy. They included our own Richard Hemming, who went on to discuss the wine in detail in this thread on our Members' forum and made it his wine of the week last August. At that stage, its regular UK price was £7.49.

Thanks to the strength of the Australian dollar, the normal UK price ofWolf Blass Yellow Label_1 the wine two vintages on, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2011 South Australia, is now £9.99. But Waitrose supermarkets currently have it on special offer until 24 July at just £6.66, which I really do think is such a steal that it is worth drawing your attention to it. (We realise it has been a while since we had a red wine of the week and fully intend to remedy this state of affairs a week today.) Note above and via the Find this wine link how much cheaper this wine is in the UK, US and even Switzerland than in its homeland.

Waitrose also have a promotions on a couple of other Australian Chardonnays. The very tight, youthful, cool-climate, well made McWilliams Mount Pleasant Isabelle Chardonnay 2010 Tumbarumba is reduced from £10.49 to £7.79 while that old standard, decidedly commercial Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2011 South Eastern Australia is reduced from £7.99 to £5.99, but Ye Olde Yellow Label is the real bargain to me. It has very much more complexity than the Lindemans Bin 65 and I can quite see how it might, so long as it is decanted (and I'm a big believer in decanting tight young Chardonnay), be confused with a white burgundy.

Of course you won't if you pour it straight from the bottle but it nicely splits the difference between the old, luscious, slightly oaky fruit-driven style of Australian Chardonnay and the new, much more anorexic style. According to winemaker Matt O'Leary (pictured), the fruit for this wine, obviously made in vast quantity, comes from Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Currency Creek (nearer the ocean than McLaren Vale), Langhorne Creek, Barossa Valley and Eden Valley (so just about every South Australian wine region other than Clare - and, pointedly, the downmarket, heavily irrigated Riverland). Note that this Yellow Label wine does not have the ignominious catch-all appellation South Eastern Australia.

The back label refers to French oak but not to barriques, so I asked whether the oak in question was in the form of chips or inner staves dangled in tank and was told, 'we use both French and Hungarian inner stave oak as well as a small portion of French oak barriques. The French oak is selected to offer creaminess and some sweeter vanilla notes whilst Hungarian oak offers more savoury and clove spice notes. We have moved to inner stave oak because it allows us to ferment at much cooler temperatures than is possible in barrel [and is much, much cheaper] and this allows the ferments to retain cleaner, fresher fruit characters. We use the small amount of barriques for cooler finer components that will ferment well in barrel.'

Alcohol level is 12.5%, acidity is 5.6 g/l and pH is 3.38. I'd drink it this year ideally - with or without food - while marveling at the value.

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