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Established in 1963 and with an annual production of less than 1000 cases in total, Wantirna Estate ranks among the elite of the Yarra Valley icons. Hand crafted terror-driven wines are a reflection of meticulous attention to detail in all aspects of viticulture and winemaking, and a vineyard site that is naturally low-yielding. "You don't need too many fingers to count the number of 'cult' wineries of the 1970s and early 1980s that are still in the hands of their original owners. Fewer still are actually performing better today than ever before. Wantirna Estate is one such winery and its modern success is a culmination of experience, the introduction of fresh ideas and a proven ability to learn. Jeremy Oliver

The warm 2015 spring had the vines flowering in late October, ensuring that vintage 2016 started on 19th February – pretty early! But the summer had been kind and devoid of any long-lasting heat spikes, so the Chardonnay fruit was in terrific condition, and even a tiny bit more plentiful than the previous couple of years.  At the CellarHand annual trade day we showed this wine and were asked many times about the winemaking. The most common question was how we'd retained the beautiful fruit but still had some lovely mid palate weight? I’d say mostly that the wine is a reflection of the vineyard as our treatment of the grapes is light-handed. The whole bunches are picked by hand then destemmed straight to the airbag press. After settling the juice off the heaviest of lees, the wine begins fermentation in tank before being transferred to barrel for the majority of the fermentation process. About 25% new French oak is used, the rest a mixture of older barrels. The wine then ages on the lees, but without stirring. The 2016 had 25% malolactic fermentation, an amount that varies each year depending on the naturally occurring malic acid levels. True to our style, the 2016 Isabella is already drinking well, but will certainly age gracefully. - Maryann Egan

The chardonnay vines are over 40 years old at Wantirna Estate. They know what they’re about. Straw-yellow in colour and carrying a resounding burst of flavour. Lean this certainly is not. And yet it boasts the cut and sparkle of quartz. Stonefruit, grilled nuts, sweet cedar and spice. There’s a bran-like character here too, a certain mealiness. The finish has appreciable length. It warrants the word gravitas. I wouldn’t hesitate. Tasted: Oct 17; Alcohol: 13.5%; Price: $80; Closure: Screwcap; Drink: 2017-2023; Rated: 94 Points; Campbell Mattinson; The Wine Front

 

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