Celebrate International Chardonnay Day

19 May, 2021

With International Chardonnay Day on Thursday, May 27, we look at this great white and some of its star regions across Australia for a diversity of styles to explore. 

Chardonnay is the wine that arguably put Australia on the world stage. The bigger, oaked expressions of the 1980s were a global success, but there has been a style evolution since those heady days. Less is more, and restraint is the way forward, but that doesn’t mean contemporary chardonnay now lacks flavour or personality. Think tight, bright and vibrant fruit flavours, all wrapped up in texture, richness, layers and length. Chardonnay is all grown up.    

Growers and makers tend to love working with chardonnay as it's a grape variety that allows them to put their stamp on it. This can be through the choice of clones and winemaking techniques – all while still reflecting site, regionality and terroir. Some expressions lie at the richer end of the spectrum, with malolactic fermentation and lees stirring involved, while other styles are woven a little more tightly, inspiring descriptors that reference the likes of minerality and acidity.

Whatever your preference, you’re spoilt for choice because this variety shines right across the country. Here, we outline a handful of the standout regions and just some of the producers to seek out, which were among the Best of the Best and other highlights in the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion

Margaret River, WA
Synonymous with chardonnay (and cabernet in the reds), the stunning coastal region of Margaret River enjoys maritime breezes, which combine with this region's climatic conditions to create luscious, intense wines known for their vibrant fruit and richness.
Try: Leeuwin EstateVasse Felix, Brookland Valley, Cape Mentelle, Domaine Naturaliste   

Margaret River, WA Synonymous with chardonnay (and cabernet), the stunning coastal region of Margaret River enjoys maritime breezes that combine with the climatic conditions to create the luscious, intense wines, known for their vibrant fruit and richneTry: Credaro Estate, Clairault Streiker, Vasse Felix, Xanadu Wine

Orange, NSW 
Chardonnay thrives in cool climates, which is what makes Orange such great wine country. Colder conditions and some of Australia's highest altitudes create chardonnays that are delicate, showing citrus, melon and apple flavours with excellent acidity. 
Try: Philip Shaw Wines, Ross HillGilbert Family Wines, Nashdale Lane WinesPrinthie Wines

Tumbarumba, NSW
This cool-climate region has built a reputation as a premium chardonnay producer. With many other wineries sourcing fruit from this region, these wines are highly regarded for their pure fruit flavours, natural acidity and minerality. 
Try: Coppabella of TumbarumbaNick O’Leary Wines, Moppity VineyardsCourabyra Wines  

Yarra Valley, VIC
Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley is regaled for its quality, elegance and long finish. Line, length and power are in full flight across these styles, as are pure fruit characters and structure
Try: Giant Steps, Hoddles Creek, Mount Mary, Coldstream Hills, Dappled Wine    

Adelaide Hills, SA
This pretty region so close to Adelaide is an ideal home for a number of varieties, including chardonnay. A diversity of sites across the region’s undulating landscape and cool climate produce wines of structure, intensity and length. 
Try: Shaw + Smith, Bird in HandTapanappa, The Lane 

Yarra Valley, VIC As one of the hallmark varieties of the Yarra Valley, alongside pinot noir, a diversity of styles is proudly produced here. Think fruit flavours spanning citrus to melon in wines of elegance and complexity.   Try: Oakridge Wines, Giant Steps, Coldstream Hills, Helen’s Hill 
Hunter Valley, NSW 
The warmer climate of the Hunter Valley has long produced exceptional chardonnay. Typically showing stone fruit flavours, creamy cashew, spice and nut from oak maturation, these much-loved wines unmistakably reveal their regionality. 
Try: Brokenwood, Lake's Folly, Meerea Park, Mount Pleasant, Thomas Wines

Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Alongside pinot noir, this region hangs its hat on chardonnay as one of its flagship wines. Its cool climate typically brings a high natural acidity to the grapes and intense fruit characters, ranging from melon to stone fruit.  
Try: Eldridge Estate, Moorooduc Estate, Stonier WinesParinga Estate, Yabby Lake Vineyard 

This region also hangs its hat on its chardonnay as one of its flagship wines, and its cool climate typically brings a high natural acidity to the grapes and intense fruit characters, ranging from melon to stone fruit.   Try: Paringa Estate, Handpicked Wines, Montalto, Crittenden Estate
Great Southern, WA 
This vast region is increasingly celebrated for a range of distinctive varieties, with chardonnay among those highlights. Fine, citrus-dominant expressions also have all the structure and intensity required for great expressions of this variety. 
Try: Forest Hill Vineyard, Castelli Estate, Byron & HaroldSnake + Herring, Singlefile 

For more on chardonnay, see here