2015 Flametree SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay
2015 Vintage: The 2015 season was a warm one with hot days followed by unseasonal warm nights. November storms played a huge part in the small crops as flowering was inconsistent; as a result fruit set was patchy. As part of the Flametree Chardonnay philosophy, we get in early and pick before the flavours were overblown. We never leaf pluck Chardonnay and don’t ever want the grapes in direct contact with the harsh afternoon sun.
Vineyards: Fruit for the 2015 Flametree SRS Chardonnay was once again sourced from a single block on Rosa Glen Road. This area is in the southern part of the Wallcliffe sub-region situated south of the Margaret River town site. The clone of choice was the Gin Gin (or Mendoza) clone, used in many of the best examples of Margaret River Chardonnay. This fruit comes from old, low yielding vines grown from cuttings off the famous block 20 at Leeuwin Estate.
Winemaking: After overnight cold storage the fruit was whole bunch pressed and sent straight to French oak puncheons. We rotated the press more than usual in order to get higher turbidity (up around 800-1000 NTU), the juices were then left to ferment with wild yeasts. The key to successful wild fermentation is the use of high turbidity juices, minimal sulphur dioxide, low alcohols and juices with good nutrient content. The 2015 SRS Chardonnay was barrel fermented in French puncheons then the finished wine was left on lees.
Tasting Notes: The 2015 has a little more fruit flavour and texture than the 2014. The nose shows tight citrus, and dried pear, sulphide notes and slight French oak aromas. It also has some high note complex sulphides in the struck match/popcorn spectrum; this is a result of a wild ferment with high solids. These sulphides contribute a lovely savoury oyster shell or saline character, this gives the wine greater complexity and complements modern food flavours.
Gold Medal - Royal Melbourne Wine Awards 2016
Gold Medal - Sydney Royal Wine Show 2016
Gold Medal - Wine Show of Western Australia 2016
Gold Medal - Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show 2016
expert reviews about
2015 Flametree SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay
Cliff Royle continues to raise the bar with his Chardonnay, especially at the super premium end with this marvellous wine. Toasty oak infused into the white peach and grapefruit fruit characters. A little struck match and a flinty gun-metal character on the nose. Extraordinary length and persistence through the palate.
Medium straw colour with a marvellously minerally, rocky, struck-flinty bouquet which leans heavily towards complex sulphides, but is also powered along by grapefruit and other citrus aromas. The wine is tightly focused, intense and powerful in the mouth. It's lean and nervy, typical of this maker's style, and if any Australian Chardonnay can be said to be mineral, this can. Lots of artefact but also masses of fruit. Beautifully focused, balanced and long-lasting on the finish.2016 - 2027
Lovely reduction, complex, pristine fruit, excellent.
Gingin clone, hand-picked and whole bunch-pressed for wild yeast barrel ferment (100% new French oak); matured for 12 months. Margaret River Chardonnay at its elegant best, with white peach, cashew and grapefruit standing clear and proud, the barrel ferment inputs there, but relatively subtle. Drop dead gold medal quality.Drink by 2022
Top-flight Chardonnay from the cool Wallcliffe sub-region of Margaret River. Made at the hand of Cliff Royle. The flint, the funk, the flesh, the flavour. This serves it all up, and in high style. Grapefruit comes smoothed over with creamy cashew; stone fruit is able with matchstick-y, sulphur-splashed funk. It’s in-your-face, in a good way. Long fingers of flavour distinguish the finish.2017 - 2022+
Cliff Royle is the definition of intuitive winemaking, throwing out the recipe to free himself to play with all the fine details in response to the fruits of the vintage. The outcome is a chardonnay that reflects the concentration of Margaret River in a warmer vintage, yet exemplifies earlier picked, lower alcohol energy and taut definition. Well-defined grapefruit and white peach fruit is offset by savoury charcuterie, notes of struck flint and a saline character indicative of its maritime origins. A beautifully crafted Margaret River chardonnay of honed acidity and mouth-filling, finely structured texture.2012 - 2018
Organised by Yarra Valley Wine, the objective of the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge is to affirm the quality of Australian Chardonnay and provide a catalyst for people to take a fresh look at this much-loved wine by providing an appropriate platform for the national search to recognize Australia’s finest chardonnay.
AWARDED: Second place in the Margaret River Class
AWARDED: Into the Chairman’s 11
The Chairman’s 11 is an extension of the highest scoring wines from the regions, in which we invite the chair to add a small number of excellent wines, entirely at his discretion, to make a set of eleven. This group is not intended to distract from the ‘winner takes all’ approach of the Challenge, but rather, it will help us tell the Australian chardonnay story. And why did we decide on 11, we hear you ask? Well, after much soul searching, we agreed that ‘form follows function’ - to show the world, we needed a set of benchmark wines that fitted neatly into a case! This should be a dozen wines of which Australia can be immensely proud.James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge