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Sunday 28 January 2024

Bold chardonnay project an instant success

Winemaker Alex Beckett spent seven successful years at Briar Ridge in the Hunter Valley before his recent switch to Marnong Estate in Victoria.

But he also has a little side project with Jan Taborsky, a former journalist from the Czech Republic with a love of wine, devoted to just one grape variety: chardonnay.

Meet Origines Wines, which has debuted with an exceptional wine from a most unlikely source, the New England district in northern New South Wales, a minor wine producing region at best.

The result, however, is hugely impressive: the Origines 2022 New England Chardonnay ($55). 

Think quality wine made in the style of the Macon region of Burgundy; cool-climate chardonnay with real personality. This is concentrated and elegant with terrific palate drive and has what the French call a certain je ne sais quoi. It's super stylish.   

Origines is described as a "micro-negociant project" that aims to explore the various terroirs of cool-climate areas of New South Wales, and produce chardonnays - and only chardonnays - that express their origins.

The project began two years ago, with a focus on vineyards that use sustainable farming practices.

The pair says its winemaking philosophy is "to capture every aspect of the grape in each glass".

That involves hand picking fruit from low yielding sites (at almost 1000 metres altitude in the case of the first wine), carefully selecting the best grapes, then whole bunch press and fermentation with natural fruit solids and ambient yeasts in, most unusually, Austrian oak casks.

Long maturations on yeast lees follows without any additions and, finally, natural clarification and bottling without any finings or filtration.

A 2023 vintage New England wine is currently in barrel, along with a 2023 Orange chardonnay (from Orange, not made in the orange style). 

Head to  but don't hang around. Quantities are small and word will soon get around. 



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