Wine Advocate 87 points - The 2011 Thomas Hyland Chardonnay went through 100% malo-lactic and was aged in 23% new oak. It has aromas of ripe peaches and guava plus a whiff of pink grapefruit. Medium-bodied, fresh and clean in the mouth, it is well-balanced with just a touch of cream / toast coming through in the medium-long finish. Drink it now through 2014+. (Dec 2011)
Minimal filtration preserves the elegance of these fruit flavours and the wine is barrel fermented to increase complexity of aromas.
After primary fermentation the chardonnay is matured in French oak barriques for around seven to nine months. The wine is regularly stirred on lees to further enhance palate texture and flavours. Malolactic fermentation is also employed to encourage creaminess and weight.
While the Thomas Hyland Chardonnay is a modestly priced wine in Penfolds’ portfolio, it can include fruit relegated from Penfolds’ top white wine, Yattarna.
|Salt and pepper scallops
Thai chicken salad
Spaghetti alio e olio
|Australia’s winemaking history of less than two hundred years is brief by European measures though, like Europe, punctuated by periods of extreme success and difficult times. From the earliest winemaking days Penfolds has figured prominently and few would argue the importance of Penfolds’ influence on Australia’s winemaking psyche.
Without the influence of Penfolds the modern Australian wine industry would look very different indeed. Sitting comfortably outside of fad and fashion, Penfolds has taken Australian wine to the world on a grand stage and forged a reputation for quality that is without peer.
Penfolds’ reputation for making wines of provenance and cellaring potential might suggest a mantle of tradition and formality is the preferred attire of a company with so much history to defend. But to label Penfolds as simply an established and conventional winemaker, would be to confuse tradition with consideration and to overlook the innovative spirit that has driven Penfolds since its foundation, and continues to find expression in modern times.
If there is anything traditional about Penfolds, it is the practice of constantly reviewing the wines it already does well, and continuously evolving and refining styles as vineyards mature and access to ever older and more varied vineyard sites improves.