"The Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay was first released in 1990. This move was bravely in the face of the ripe and high oak Chardonnay movement that was steamrolling ahead at the time.
Over the years the style and composition of our unwooded Chardonnay has continually evolved. In recent years we have re focused on Chardonnay's strengths and on showcasing the variety's evocative texture and mouthfeel. Chardonnay's structure makes it perfectly suitable and receptive to weaving in complexity, while still maintaining its varietal definition and expressing a sense of place. Spontaneous fermentation, juice solids in fermentation and storage on yeast lees are some of the techniques that have been gently introduced to encourage complexity and mouthfeel.
Following the 2010 vintage we believe that the Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay style had be fully explored. To achieve the next level of complexity and improvement it was decided that oak would be subtly introduced. In 2011, which ironically would have been the 21st year of our unwooded Chardonnay, 14% of the wine was barrel fermented in three, four and five year old French oak hogsheads. This barrel fermentation and maturation has resulted in a more layered and textured palate, whilst still maintaining the trademark citrus and stone fruit purity.
Chapel Hill Foundation Chardonnay 2011
This is a good $25 wine with a 16 dollar price tag. The evolved slowly over the four days that I looked at it and it just kept on getting better. It started out with fresh figs dipped in vanilla and topped with spices. Imagine those exotic spices from Morocco or Turkey and you have it about right. There are none of those melon flavours in this wine that I would normally associate with McLaren Vale Chardonnay, rather there are hints of peach, white nectarine and grapefruit bobbling around refreshing me as I sip this. The line and length of this readily available wine is rather beautiful, especially at this price. I would personally keep this for 6 months to a year before I start opening them as there is so much inherent stuffing packed into this wine that I think it needs just a bit longer to show its true glory.
Drink: 2013 - 2016