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Bellwether, Tamar Valley Chardonnay 2015
Sue Bell was voted Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology Winemaker of the Year in 2014, and in her small winery in Coonawarra she works with grapes sourced from passionate growers across diverse regions of Australia.
Even as far afield as Tasmania. The island actually has a long winegrowing pedigree, longer than many more renowned mainland areas, but only in recent years as climate change has made itself felt has interest in Tasmanian wine risen around the world. This cool climate is home to increasingly world-class still and sparkling wines. The Tamar Valley is north of Launceston and the most plentiful growing area on the island.
Sue's Chardonnay is hand-picked then (unsulphured) juice is brought by boat to the mainland. It's whole-bunch pressed directly into tight-grain, large 500-litre French oak barrels for natural fermentation. The wine is astonishing. If you enjoy great white wines from Burgundy, you must try this Chardonnay. Struck match and lemon tart aroma, complex, textured and mineral to taste. Quite awesome really,chapeauSue.
Chardonnay from the Tamar Valley in cool-climate Tasmania is handpicked to preserve the fruit and indigenous yeasts of the vineyard ahead of being transported (as juice) back to Sue's small winery in Coonawarra. Whole bunch pressed directly into tight grain, large 500-litre French oak barrels for natural fermentation
Bellwether is the brainchild of Sue Bell, current Australian Winemaker of the Year, based in the 1868 Glen Roy Shearing Shed in Coonawarra. Sue makes wines from grapes grown in Coonawarra itself as well as other regions of Australia, including as far afield as Tasmania. Their iconic Coonawarra Cab is from growers Mike & Brent Wetherall. Tassie Chardonnay is grown by Jan and David Jenkinson in the lower Tamar Valley. Alternative Vermentino is sourced from the Chalmers in Heathcote, over in Victoria. Wrattonbully fruit is grown by Peter Bird, while Heather Laycock (Shiraz) and Richard & Peter Freckleton (Malbec), also Wrattonbully, combine to make one of the most beguiling, inviting Australian reds we've ever stumbled across.
Wine Advocate 93pts (2014) - Fermented and aged in one-third new puncheons, the 2014 Tamar Valley Chardonnay is the shining star in Bellwether's galaxy of offerings. It's medium-bodied, with precisely balancing ripe, rich overtones of peaches and cream with ample mealy-matchstick complexity and refreshing acidity on the palate, then ends superbly with a silky texture and lasting flavors.