Chardonnay in the high elevation, cool climate conditions of Orange has long been a quality performer, producing arguably the region’s most consistent quality wine style with distinctive regional characteristics. Printhie first produced chardonnay in 2004 and in the 2008 vintage produced its first reserve chardonnay – the Mt. Canobolas Collection (MCC) Chardonnay. This is a wine that has earned high praise from many wine reviewers from its first vintage and has won great favour with our customers.
We had a desire to see how we could continue to evolve the chardonnay style and we wanted to produce a wine that would sit comfortably amongst the great marques of Australian chardonnay. The MCC Chardonnay always looked very lithe, sometimes restrained compared to some of the great marques of Australian chardonnay. We were looking for more power, more fruit richness but maintaining the elegance and freshness that is the hallmark of Orange chardonnay.
We selected particular vineyards and particular batches of fruit from those vineyards as potential sources for the Super-Duper chardonnay. We selected particular sorts of barrels to be matched with the fruit of these grape batches with French oak from particular forests and toasted in a particular way. The wine was fermented in our traditional method. Following whole bunch pressing (no crushing of the fruit), the juice was fermented with lots of grape solids using wild yeast in 100% French oak (new and older) with warmer temperatures than normal (up to 24oC) to encourage complexity. Following fermentation, the yeast lees that settle to the bottom of the barrel were stirred up regularly (batonage) to keep them suspended so that as they break down, they too add complexity to the wine. The wine was left un-sulphured over the winter and was only sulphured when the wine began to warm up in the spring and this was to prevent any further malolactic fermentation (the conversion of malic acid to the softer lactic acid).
The wine you taste from the bottle is a result of a blending exercise of all the potential wine batches from their specific barrels. After many sessions at the tasting bench over two days, the final blend was settled upon. Surprisingly, it included three different vineyards and 70% of the wine came from new barrels – twice the normal percentage of the MCC Chardonnay, which is usually a single vineyard wine. As always at Printhie, we are on the quest for balance in our wines. At 70% new oak, you might think that the balance was in jeopardy. However, such is the quality and complexity of the fruit and savoury elements of the wine, it comfortably retains its balance, vitality and elegance. Like most, high quality chardonnays, this wine will retain its freshness for many years and will slowly build complexity as it ages and evolves in the bottle. At two years old, it tastes like it was bottled only yesterday.