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Monday 5 April 2021

Chardonnay shines in Orange terroir

Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wine grapes in the world - and also one of the most versatile. 

The variety originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France but is now grown all over the globe. 

In Australia, it tends to shine in cooler regions like Tasmania, southern Victoria and Orange in the Central West of New South Wales, where it can resemble the mineral-influenced wines of Chablis. 

The Orange region’s Patina Wines has just released its duo of benchmark chardonnays that are well worth a look for lovers of the cool-climate style: the 2019 Patina Chardonnay ($40) and 2018 Patina Reserve Chardonnay ($60).

The Patina vineyard was planted 22 years ago on the eastern foothills of Mount Canobolas and their quality fruit confirms founder Gerald Naef 's belief in the site. 

“It’s not something you can change readily; choosing where to plant your vines is the foundation for your entire wine growing," Naef says. 

“Grapes tend to hold their acid and fruit character better when ripening occurs in cool weather. Fine tuning and narrowing the varieties down to the best for a particular site or even for a few rows is quite precise and can take a bit of trial and error.

“The high elevation (from 600 metres to 1100 metres) in Orange gives us an edge in grape growing as many varieties do well here. Certain varieties, however, such as chardonnay, do particularly well.”

Another benefit of high elevation vineyards is the high difference in day-night temperature. 

“I’ve said previously that I don’t believe there is another region in the world that necessarily produces better chardonnay than Orange - there are just stylistic differences,” Naef said.

The Patina cellar door and gardens (above) are now open five days a week post-Covid and picnic hampers are available for purchase. 

Both new release wines are outstanding with the 2019 slightly leaner and classically citrusy/minerally (92/100), while 2018 Reserve is a tad more complex and rich, but still unmistakably classic cool-climate chardonnay with lovely balance (94/100).  

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