LCBO Value Picks: Australian Chardonnay

Hi all, Alex here –

We’ve all been in that situation where it’s the end of the month, Visa bills are running hot, and you’re craving a decent bottle of wine on the cheap! So, to help you (and ourselves) with that, we decided to explore some of the value wines available at the LCBO by having a blind tasting! We’ll be doing a series of these value picks tastings, each with a different focus. This time we picked up four Chardonnays from Australia – all at a price point of $15 or less per bottle. None of them are Vintages picks so they should be more widely available and easily accessible.

Now, Chardonnay has an interesting history in Australia. Some wine drinkers will remember that for many years (until as late as the 1990’s), Australian Chardonnay tended to be quite heavily oaked, buttery and rich. Many people were proud members of the ABC (“anything but Chardonnay”) club back then, however since then the country has had a transformation!

These days Australia is producing a wide variety of great Chardonnay with different styles, including an increased focus on grapes sourced from cooler regions, along with a more conservative use of oak aging. This results in wines with higher acidity, characterized by notes of citrus and subtle minerality.

The Wines to be tasted:

  1. Angove Organic Chardonnay 2018 ($14.95)
  2. Yellow Tail Chardonnay 2018 ($12.00)
  3. Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2018 ($11.00)
  4. Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay Adelaide Hills 2017 ($14.95)

We each poured two glasses so that we only knew two of the four wines, and the tasting began!

  • Wine 1 had a very pale yellow colour, smelled floral with a hint of petroleum and tasted slightly oaky, acidic and toasty.
  • Wine 2 had a deeper yellow colour, aromas of melon, earth, and vanilla, with a taste like apricot, caramel and smoky butterscotch.
  • Wine 3 had a pale straw/gold colour, and was steely on the nose with floral and petrol notes and a hint of grapefruit.
  • Wine 4 had a lighter colour, with aromas of spice, smoke, and citrus and a tasted of bubblegum (!), earth, and citrus fruit.

The Verdict:

It was a draw! After tasting each glass, it was apparent that Wines #2 and #4 stood out as superior in quality. They both had a complexity and fullness that wasn’t quite matched by the other two, in our opinion. I ranked Wine #2 as my top choice, while Erica went for Wine #4 (with Wine #2 in a close second!).

It turns out, Wine #2 was the Yellow Tail (who knew!!), and Wine #4 was the Jacob’s Creek Reserve. The others we could tell were purchased on the cheap!

Bottom line:

At $12.00, the Yellow Tail is a steal – if you’re willing to put up with some teasing from those who have a snobby view of the brand’s reputation! For anyone looking to save some cash, but looking for a dependable pick, we recommend both the Yellow Tail and Jacob’s Creek Reserve.

Stay tuned for more value wine reviews!

-Alex

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