From one of the most iconic producers in the Yarra Valley, comes the Vineyard Series (previously called LVS - Local Vineyard Series). It's a range of wines that allows winemaker David Bicknell to showcase the various terroirs of the Yarra, from some incredible, hand-picked vineyards.
To experience a single-vineyard Chardonnay, from a premium site, finessed by an artisan winemaker, is something everyone should try. Normally, those sort of wines come at a steep cost. What makes the Oakridge Willow Lake Chardonnay 2018 incredible, is that it delivers this quality at under $30! To give you an idea of how good it is, check out the 96 and 95 Point reviews from James Suckling, Huon Hooke and Gary Walsh. This is special.
Oakridge was first setup in 1978 as what was originally a family company. By the turn of the century the label was gobbled up by a large Australian wine company (where it flailed) until being taken back into family hands with the talented David Bicknell on winemaking duties in 2002. Since then Oakridge - and David Bicknell - has garnered a reputation as one of our finest Chardonnay makers, with a particularly handy Pinot and Shiraz or two also in the Oakridge portfolio Oakridge is all about the Yarra Valley, and particularly the Upper Yarra where it sources much of it's fruit from. The range starts with the Over the Shoulder wines which are designed as food friendly entry-level drops that would likely find a home on wine lists around the nation. The next step up is the Estate wines, and Local Vineyard Series, which serve to highlight several different vineyards around the Yarra. Finally, the top tier is the 864 wines, including a single vineyard Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Chardonnay in particular regarded as one of Australia's finer modern whites.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
This is the oldest Upper Yarra vineyard, and one of the largest in either the Upper or Lower Yarra. The mouthfeel and thus the fruit/oak acid balance - are all singing the same note, let alone page. It has great length and aftertaste. Ironically the only one of these four chardonnays not entered in the Yarra Valley Wine Show.
A complex and dense chardonnay with lots of ripe apples and nougat with hints of cream and pie crust, following through to a full body. Lovely fruit. Very flashy and attractive.
The most reductive of the 2018 LVS and it pushes it to the limit in a good way with citrus and just ripe stone fruits tempering the lees induced inputs. The palate has tension and a nervy acidity with a baseline of flint and subtle spice that is unwavering and enjoys green fig and new season nectarine; there is a lemon curd like note somewhere in the mix and brioche to finish. A producer that can do no wrong with the Chardonnay grape.
GARY WALSH - THE WINE FRONT
I've probably said it before, and anyone who knows me knows I'm prone to repeating myself, but what a lovely evocative name it is for a vineyard. It doesn't need any styling products; there's not a hair out of place here. White peach and lime, green melon, almond nougat, a whisper of struck match and spice. Smooth and flavoursome, a subtle viscosity interlaid with chalk and flint, some floral mouth-perfume, slight tweak to the finish with citrus rind and grapefruit tang. Right proper Chardonnay here.
Light yellow hue and soft, subtle, creamy cashew nut bouquet, the palate following on from there with a medium to full-body and slight tannin grip. A richer, fuller, rounder style within this maker's ambit. The nose is a tad subdued, the palate is excellent. The wine took time to emerge and was finally superb. (Gladysdale, north-facing site on red volcanic soils)
STEVE LESZCZYNSKI - QWINE
Willowlake is a magical place in the Australian wine landscape. Say hello to another beauty from Oakridge. Gorgeous depth flourishes with a wonderful balance between fruit and oak. The oldest of the Oakridge vineyard sites, it certainly has the runs on the board. Concentrated white fleshed stonefruit zones in on the mid-palate all wrapped up by vanilla cream and deft touches of toffee and fig. A squeeze of lemon plus licks of grapefruit nestle together delivering a vibrant and fresh Chardonnay for your drinking pleasure. Beautiful!