If there is royalty in the wine world then surely the queen of grapes is Chardonnay – and that would make Margaret River the royal court. Home to some of the world’s most beautiful examples of this variety, a perfect grape growing climate and highly skilled wine makers, there is no better place in the world to delve into the beautiful world of Chardonnay than Margaret River.
Whilst it accounts for more than half of Australia’s white wine production, Chardonnay hasn’t always been the most fashionable of wines. Throughout the 1980’s, Chardonnay fell prey to a trend of excess which led to a stream of flabby, oaky and buttery wines, leaving some wary of the variety.
Breathe a sigh of relief though – times and tastes have changed. Prepare your tastebuds as today Chardonnay reigns with style, elegance and finesse; particularly in Margaret River.
The Margaret River Region is expansive, so to help guide the way we’ve put together a Chardonnay Trail featuring some of the icons and the lesser-known names alike.
Locals tip: Make sure to toss the coin over who will be appointed as driver before you start tasting the region’s superb selection of wines, or enquire about arranging a private taxi/driver service.
Located at the northern gateway to the Margaret River wine region, look out for Flametree’s Hamptons-inspired beachy cellar door that is serving their acclaimed SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay. Recent vintages have taken trophies at Australia’s top wine shows and been listed in the top 100 wines of by James Halliday; this wine will put you in good stead for the day with a purity and freshness of character.
A true labour of love, founded and run by a young family, the story of Windows Estate is testament to where passion and hard work can lead. Their newly released 2017 Chardonnay only has 600 dozen bottles produced and is currently ranked as one of the top 3 Chardonnays from 2017 in Margaret River by Huon Hooke.
Located in the Wilyabrup Valley of Margaret River, Woodlands was one of the first vineyards planted in the area, and the Watson family continue to produce some of the finest wines in Western Australia. Of course you’re here to sample their Chardonnay, but it would be a crime to miss a sip of their iconic Cabernet Sauvignon too.
Just down the road from Woodlands you’ll find Pierro, who very humbly boast a Chardonnay that exemplifies the terroir of the region. Since 1986, the Chardonnay style found at Pierro has been racking up accolades internationally. Feel free to give your tastebuds a break and challenge your fellow Chardonnay adventurers to a game of chess on the jumbo set in the gardens!
A little further down Caves Road lies the historical centre of Margaret River’s wine industry at Vasse Felix, the region’s founding estate established in 1967 by Dr Tom Cullity. Your visit comes with the opportunity to taste their iconic Heytesbury Chardonnay – one of the region’s most coveted bottles. Perched beside Margaret River’s oldest vineyard, the Estate offers wine tastings, an award-winning restaurant, art gallery, tours and more.
With three biodynamic vineyard located around the region, the McHenry Hohnen cellar door provides an education in how different growing conditions and regional terroirs affect the variety of award winning Chardonnays that they produce. See and touch the different soils that the vines grow in and taste the range from Hazel’s Vineyard, Burnside Vineyard and Calgardup Brook Vineyard. Everyone has a different favourite – which is yours?
Moving slightly further south you will find Xanadu Estate, another option for that quintessential Margaret River lunch with a view of the vines – you can put your newfound Chardonnay expertise to good use pairing the liquid gold with local produce. Be sure to stop by the cellar door on your way in as you don’t want to miss a taste of their elegant Stevens Road Chardonnay.
The last stop on your Chardonnay discovery. Not only will the views and sweeping driveway at Leeuwin Estate take your breath away but you will be treating your tastebuds to one of the most famous wines in Australia. Their Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay holds the standard for excellence and it would be sacrilege to miss out on a tasting before your journey is complete. Beyond a taste, it’s worth sitting down for an afternoon snack with their wine and food flight which features their premium Art Series wines and perfectly paired bite-sized morsels from the chef – for a very reasonable price!