Mike Aylward’s ‘Verve’ Chardonnay has garnered a bit of a cult following for its fresh and zippy charms, but that’s not to say it’s ever lean or mean. The 2019 turns the texture up a little notch, though it is still very much in the cool stone fruit and citrus zone, a gently pillowy texture encasing trademark acid race.
This is bright and citrus tinged, with cool stone fruit, lemon pith and a smoky mineral hint. As the name suggests, this is on the bright and zippy side, but there’s plenty of texture and some gently luxurious pops of barrel fermentation complexing the whole, a gently pillowy cushion of leesy texture upholstering the vivid line of acidity.
Themes of this wine
With an explosion of interest over the last few decades, chardonnay is now the world’s most planted white grape. With its ability to grow in varied conditions and make everything from sparkling wine, to lean and mineral whites, to full-bodied textural expressions, it is perhaps no surprise to see Burgundy’s key white grape become so dominant.
Some wines are fermented in tanks or large fermenters before the wine is transferred to barrels, while others are fermented in the barrels that they’re then aged in. Barrel fermentation is a practice most commonly used when making chardonnay, but it is also employed to add texture and flavour complexity to other white wines, such as commonly with pinot gris and viognier, but it can be applied to any variety. The impact of barrel fermentation is one where fruity flavours are softened and rounded off, while adding in some yeasty, leesy notes, with a generally softer and creamier texture. The wines are typically then aged on the lees, where stirring (battonage) can add even more richness and softness to the texture, though winemakers are doing this less and less, pursuing more refined styles.
The Mornington Peninsula wine region is somewhat of a latecomer, with ongoing commercial production not taking hold until the 1980s. But it has blossomed somewhat since then. Now boasting over 200 vineyards, with 60-odd wineries and over 50 cellar doors, the Mornington Peninsula specialises in chardonnay and pinot noir, while also staking a claim to some of the country’s best pinot gris.