Evolution of an Australian classic

Chardonnay first came to Australia in the 1920s but didn’t find popularity until the 1970s.

It is planted in virtually every region and makes a wide variety of wine styles from light-bodied, crisp and unoaked through to full-bodied, complex barrel matured versions.

Chardonnay snapshot

  • Premium Australian Chardonnay has evolved dramatically from the rich, ripe full flavoured versions of the 1980s and ’90s. 
  • The sourcing of fruit from cooler climate areas combined with a more gentle touch with oak use, lees contact and malolactic conversion has led to a more restrained balanced, age-worthy style.

In the vineyard

Chardonnay is an adaptable variety and can be grown in cool regions as well as warm areas. It is a productive, early budding and early ripening variety.

It is a thin-skinned variety, which makes it susceptible to botrytis bunch rot.

Regions

Can be grown successfully climates ranging from cool to warm.

Styles

Wide range of styles: Cool climate versions tend to be lighter in body with higher acidity and more subtle flavours. Warm climate versions tend to be more full-bodied with richer, riper fruit and bolder flavours.

Qualities

Wide range of qualities: from affordable everyday drinking wines with ripe peach and pear flavours through to complex, regionally expressive and age-worthy versions.

21,442ha
Total plantings (2015)
1830s
First plantings

In the winery

Vinification techniques
  • Extremely flexible with regard to various winemaking techniques
  • Oak fermentation and maturation is common for top quality wines
  • Attitudes toward malolactic fermentation are evolving – full versus partial versus none
  • Overall shift toward less intervention
Maturation
  • Less new oak and use of larger format barrels for more subtle and complex wines
  • Unoaked Chardonnays tend to be fresh and vibrant styles for early drinking
  • Extended lees contact during maturation is common, adding complexity and texture

Major regional expressions

Adelaide Hills

  • The undulating and sometimes very steep aspects combined with average altitudes over 400 metres means that Adelaide Hills is the coolest region in South Australia
  • This region is ideally suited to the production of complex Chardonnay
  • The wines are typically complex and textured with peach and citrus flavours
Read more on Adelaide Hills

Margaret River

  • Margaret River has established itself as one of Australia’s premier Chardonnay producing regions
  • The warm climate is tempered by the effects of the Indian and Southern Oceans
  • The style is typically concentrated, rich and complex with typical lime-like acidity
Read more on Margaret River

Mornington Peninsula

  • The cooling effects of the ocean are felt throughout the Mornington Peninsula
  • The cool climate is ideal for the production of pure-fruited, restrained Chardonnay
  • Creates medium-weight wines with delicate flavours of melon, white peach and citrus
Read more on Mornington Peninsula

Yarra Valley

  • The Yarra Valley has a diverse array of micro climates and vineyard aspects which impacts Chardonnay’s style
  • Elevated vineyards sites allow for a restrained and subtle style
  • Diverse characteristics but typically medium-bodied, textured wines with signature flavours of white peach
Read more on Yarra Valley

In the glass

Style and character

Chardonnay can be light-bodied, fresh, vibrant and easy drinking ranging through to complex, textured and age-worthy.

Pairs with

Chicken, pork and white fish dishes, prawns, lobster and crab.

Typical flavours

Peach
Pear
Apple
Citrus
Toasty
Subtle Oak