If Adrian Rodda made more wine, more people would know that he consistently makes some of Australia's best Chardonnay. He is young in winemaking terms, taking out Young Winemaker of the Year in 2015; but his wisdom around Chardonnay winemaking runs deep. He commenced winemaking in 1998 and spent a decade with Chardonnay maestro Dave Bicknell during some of the trailblazing years at Oakridge in the Yarra Valley. Oakridge pushed boundaries with Chardonnay and are one of the reasons for the success of modern Oz Chardonnay on the international stage. Adrian had a front row seat for this.
In 2010 he moved to Beechworth in the Victorian High Country, taking over the well regarded Smith's Vineyard, the oldest in the region. From there he started his Chardonnay project, which took Smith's Vineyard fruit and fruit from Yarra Valley's Willowlake Vineyard and fermenting them in his winery in Beechworth along the same process. It is seriously knowledgeable Chardonnay winemaking that produces delicious drinks that let the vineyards shine through. In 2017 he added another cool vineyard in North East Victoria to the program.
The Willowlake Vineyard is a cool site in the Upper Yarra, sitting at 270m in elevation and planted in 1979. This is from a block referred to as the Parkinson's Block that Adrian identified as a favourite from his time at Oakridge. It is one of the coolest pockets of the vineyard, flanking a consistent south facing slope.
Adrian's winemaking would be classified as 'modern Australian' but what he gains in funk and structure is not at the expense of richness or flavour. The fruit is handpicked and pressed directly to 500L French oak punchoens of which 34% are new. Malolactic fermentation is not encouraged so there is a crunchy spine of acidity but savouriness and texture is built through ageing on lees.
The wine has intense aromas of toast, flint, gunsmoke, meyer lemon and pink grapefruit... it smells funky and delicious. The palate has a presence, powerful, long and tightly wound. Ripe citrus, white peach, lemon curd, cashew, oatmeal, a creamy mid-palate with a tightly coiled and tense finish. It is world class modern Aussie Chardonnay at a steal of a price, a fraction of its competitors.
A. Rodda is a producer all Chardonnay lovers should have on the radar. The media are on to him and the press around this wine is impressive with 95's across the Companion and Wine Front. It is a delicious drink right now and can be enjoyed all summer, though from the strong 2019 vintage it will comfortably age six years plus. Serve cool with most light to medium dishes, though braised leeks, cold shellfish with drawn butter or pastas with white wine based sauces will all sing.
This is the end of the 2019 vintage so stock will likely run out soon. We hope you love it.
Tom and Dan