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2011 Toolangi Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Toolangi Winery is the brainchild of Garry and Julie Hounsell; they planted their vineyard in Victoria’s Yarra Valley in 1995 and produced their first wine vintage in 2000.
Their aim has been to produce wines of great complexity and subtlety, rather than power and muscle, and the location of their estate, all on north-east facing slopes on a clay-based soil with a thin layer of shale and stone topsoil, lends itself perfectly to this objective.
The estate now extends to 13 hectares and produces wine at 3 different levels from a range of grape varieties, although in our opinion it is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which have excelled and it is these we have chosen to list.
Toolangi is the entry-level wine, from a combination of estate-grown fruit and bought-in grapes. Toolangi Estate is a step up and is drawn only from estate-grown fruit, while the Reserve is a premium selection of only the finest barrels in a given year.
Interestingly, the wines are not actually made at Toolangi itself; instead, Garry and Julie select highly skilled winemakers at other wineries in the Yarra Valley who each boast outstanding reputations for making wines from the variety allocated to them. An example is Rick Kinzbrunner, who we know well as he makes the great Giaconda wines available in our portfolio.
Toolangi has, in a very short time, acquired an enviable reputation for producing outstanding wines, helped by a policy of strictly low yields and painstaking attention to detail in the vineyard.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
After South Australia and New South Wales, Victoria is the country's third most important viticultural state, responsible for 23 percent of the vines. Notable fine wine regions include the Yarra Valley (a prime spot for Pinot Noir), Sunbury (Chardonnay, Shiraz), Heathcote (Shiraz), Macedon Ranges and Rutherglen (Liqueur Muscats).
Victoria has a long history of vineyard settlements, although much was destroyed by Phylloxera in the late 19th century. Apart from hot Rutherglen, the Victorian viticultural regions are generally the country's second coolest after Tasmania. Victoria is the source of excellent sparkling wines, as well as being a great area for sweet, fortified wines such as liqueur Muscat from Rutherglen in north-east Victoria.