The Collector Tiger Tiger is winemaker Alex McKay’s answer to Chablis, via way of Australia’s contemporary take on the variety.
Sourced from Tumbarumba, a high-altitude holy ground in the Snowy Mountains of NSW (where Penfolds originally launched their Yattarna Chardonnay, and Hardy's regularly call upon for their Eileen Hardy), this Tiger Tiger has been politely reminding those in the know just how good 'Tumby' can be when on song.
Smoky, linear, perfectly precise and insanely moreish, it resonates of the chalky, minerality that drives Northern Burgundy’s most famed appellation, yet it too has a uniqueness all of its own. The high-altitude of the Collector site, at 800metres above sea level, and the meticulous hand-harvesting, whole-bunch work and barrel fermentation, have rendered a wine of serious power and drive, with grapefruit, lemon curd and oatmeal on show.
No wonder this wine won the highly-prized trophy for best Chardonnay at the Canberra Wine Show (a feat it has repeated numerous times). It’s also been pretty popular with the old wine-reviewer crowd too.
Between Jancis Robinson, Huon Hooke, Campbell Mattinson & James Halliday all singing the praise of the region, and this wine in particular, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better $32 bottle of Chardonnay with this kind of credibility.
The 2016/17 growing season was marked a wet spring, precipitating a relatively long and cool ripening period. A dry January/February enabled stress-free ripening and good retention of aromatics and grape acid.
The vineyard sits in a saddle at 850m above sea level, at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. The site drains to valleys either side and offers exceptional conditions for growing Chardonnay at the cool margin. The soil is deep, well-drained, weathered granite.
The grapes were harvested at just over 12 Baumé, with 11+ g/L acid. The fruit was whole bunch pressed and run to a mix of new and seasoned Allier and Tronçais oak for fermentation. Each parcel underwent a full malolactic fermentation and was aged on lees before blending and bottling in February 2018.
The wine is fresh on the nose with aromas of white flowers, grapefruit and flint. A changing and complex wine of depth and concentration that with time in the glass reveals lemon curd, brioche and spent matchsticks. The palate is focussed, mouth-filling and long. The wine will metamorphose and take on complexity with age.
Collector Wines produces small quantities of table wine. Grapes are grown on the characteristic lean pink granites and reddish shale loams of the Canberra District and Tumbarumba. The wines are hand-made for balance, character and depth of flavour.
CAMPBELL MATTINSON - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
From Tumbarumba. There's a lot of matchsticky flare to the nose, so be warned, but the palate is seriously stylish and indeed powerful. This wine glistens and sparks, almost as if its quality would glow in the dark. White peach and then some, honeysuckle, fennel, a chalkiness, texture like satin. When you drink this wine you know that Australian chardonnay has come to be in a remarkable place.
CAMPBELL MATTINSON - THE WINE FRONT
Sulphur notes dominate the nose but the palate is sheer brilliance. It's a long, intense dart of flavour. It tastes of white peach, honeysuckle, chalk and lactose, matchstick flaring again on the finish. Certainly it's a chardonnay of a certain flamboyant style but it's a champion example of it.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Light yellow colour, restrained and youthful. The bouquet is pungent with smoky oak and some reductive nuances, as well as attractive peach and stone fruit aromas. The palate is likewise savoury and appetising, with grip and mineral saltiness. Some grapefruit-citrus notes. It's intense and penetrating, long and vibrant. It's already very complex. A cracking chardonnay.
JANCIS ROBINSON MW
Cribbin vineyard at 810 m – highest of the lot in Tumbarumba? Based in Collector, NSW. Almost colourless. Lightly reductive, very zesty nose. Mmm. Really fills the palate with ripe, friendly fruit but has the drive and zest to keep it all racy. There has been a little evolution already. Quite long. 17/20
Best Chardonnay Trophy - Canberra Wine Show 2019