The timeless Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, with its gorgeous fruit complexity and mouth-watering freshness, is Margaret River’s definitive chardonnay and one of Western Australia’s great modern traditions.
Intense exuberant but beautifully defined fruit is balanced by savoury oak complexity. The palate is creamy yet a fine bead of acid cuts a swathe across the palate giving life and incredible length. With age the wine becomes a harmonious whole with beautifully defined grapefruit/melon aromas and complex lanolin nuances. The palate is richer and fleshier but remains tightly bound by mineral acidity. Leeuwin Estate seeks to preserve the pristine fruit characters of Chardonnay throughout vinification and maturation. This is achieved through minimal or gravity fed handling, meticulous attention to detail and no malo-lactic fermentation. The wine is 100% barrel-fermented in selected new French oak and matured in the same barrel. Battonage builds texture and flavour complexity.
Let's put it this way. This is the closest I have come to awarding a wine 100 points...
Stellar wine from a stellar vintage. The remarkable thing is that this is a wine 100 percent barrel fermented in new French oak barriques with regular lees stirring for 11 months - and it certainly doesn't taste excessive, or even slightly oak. It has such high-fidelity purity with complex seductive aromatics of vanilla bean and light oatmeal with a cutting minerality and spicy lift. But the palate, oh the palate. This is where things start to explode. Power, poise and persistence with a dry savouriness balancing the intense ripe fruit. It is such a long finish with an ever so slightly, charry finish completing a remarkable wine.
99 points, The West Australian (February 2021)
Very light colour, remarkable for a 4-year-old wine. The bouquet is complex and yet very fresh and restrained, showing captivating nougat aromas which lead into a concentrated, powerful yet elegant palate. Absolutely delicious array of flavours. Lemon drops, honey and myriad other aromas and flavours. Tremendous power and persistence. A sensational chardonnay.
98 points, The Real Review (February 2021)
25 reviews of Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay (prior to this one) and the lowest we’ve ever rated it is 93/100. Amazing really.
The first thing I noticed here was the intensity. The fruit intensity. It’s a striking wine, explosive in a refined way, elegant and textural at once, persistent. Its presence and power can be admired and enjoyed now but wow does this have a future, and a long one. White peach, citrus, pear, sweet cedar and almonds. The whole is more than its parts. It’s beautiful, pure, exemplary.
96 points, The Wine Front (February 2021)
Cool destemmed fruit with some skin contact. The juice was settled for 3 days, racked and inoculated with yeast. 100% of the juice was fermented in new French oak barriques with the lees stirred regularly. After 11 months in barrels the various components were blended, fined (bentonite, PVPP, milk) and cold stabilized. Bottled 19–21 August 2019. Benchmark pedigree Margaret River chardonnay from the perfect 2018 vintage. Kaffir leaf, ocean spray, nectarine, yellow peach, custard apple and white peach are the start. Saffron curls, vanilla pod and freshly grated nutmeg frame saline acidity, crouched and coiled. Length of flavour extends across the palate in an endless procession of texture and complexity. All of the power, grace and excellence of previous years is here, amplified.
98 points, Wine Companion (March 2021)
A more expressive – and complex – bouquet than this great, long-lived, wine normally offers at this age, the palate matching the bouquet in its depth and power. Grapefruit, spice and apple tart are its markers, and it's the vineyard that bestows its resilience.
98 points, James Halliday's Top 100 Wines of 2021
Located three hours south of Perth, Margaret River is Western Australia’s most prestigious wine-growing region. Serious vineyard development began only in the late 1960’s following the publication of a report by John Gladstones in 1965 stating that the area had a similar climate to Pomerol or St Emilion, with low frost risk, plenty of sunshine and equable temperatures within the growing season promoting even ripening. Margaret River’s climate is warm and maritime, with some cooling influence provided by southeast trade winds. The soils derive from granitic and a gneissic rock over which laterite has formed. The region can be divided in three sub-regions: the cooler south between Yallingup and Karridale with predominantly lateritic gravelly loamy sands and sandy loams; the warm and sunnier Willyabrup in the centre with predominantly gravelly loams, but some gritty sandy loams and granitic gravels; and Margaret River in the north with similar soils, but slightly cooler temperatures. This is entirely consistent with style; the wines from Willyabrup being more generous than the highly structured wines of the north and the elegant styles of the south. Margaret River is best known for high quality Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends and top notch Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Over the years, the region has established an astonishing reputation illustrating a consistency in quality and a strongly focused winemaking culture.
Leeuwin Estate was established in 1974 by Denis and Tricia Horgan with initial help from the Californian winemaker Robert Mondavi. A succession of brilliant vintages, the remarkable fine winemaking legacy of now retired winemaker/viticulturalist team Bob Cartwright and John Brocksopp, and an extraordinary consistency of style, have made Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay one of the most highly prized Australian white wines on the market.
Leeuwin Estate grows 62 acres (25 hectares) of Chardonnay divided into eight parcels. Block 20 – the backbone of the highly regarded Art Series Chardonnay – has been singled out as an exceptional vineyard on the 300 acre Leeuwin Estate. The un-irrigated vineyard planted to the “Gin-Gin” clone gently slopes towards Stevens Road on the western boundary. The soils are gravelly and well drained.
During the growing season dry cool air from the Southern Ocean funnels up through the hill system. It is largely responsible for the phenomena called ‘hen and chicken’ or ‘millerandage’ a problem associated with fertilization which leads to an erratic development of bunches comprising berries of different sizes. At harvest the normal size ‘hen’ berries are “smooth and silky like a princess,” whereas the smaller ‘chicken’ berries are quite lean and acidic. Combined, the Chardonnay fruit brings exceptional concentration and flavour with naturally high natural acids. Ripening is assisted by growing rye between the vine rows. Not only does it provide some wind protection but by February it is a bright golden colour reflecting the sun’s rays into the canopy. Yields during vintage are generally moderate at around 1.9 tons/acre. Although the ‘numbers’ are checked, the fruit is picked on flavour development, texture and weight.
Leeuwin Estate seeks to preserve the pristine fruit characters of Chardonnay throughout vinification and maturation. Everything is minimally handled or gravity fed.” The Chardonnay is 100% barrel fermented in selected new French oak and matured in the same barrel. Battonage (lees stirring) is regularly employed and partial malo-lactic fermentation is encouraged in most vintages to bring further texture and flavour complexity. The wine is usually bottled eighteen months after vintage. The overall approach to winemaking has not changed since first vintage illustrating the sheer focus in vineyard management. The investment in winemaking, however, is extraordinary.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay is one of Australia’s rare long-lived fine-boned Chardonnays with superb fruit definition and clarity. When youthful they are a balance between exuberant fruit and savoury complexity. The palate is creamy yet a fine bead of acid cuts a swathe across the palate giving life and incredible length. With a few years of bottle maturity, the Art Series Chardonnay seems to shed its aniseed top notes. The wine becomes a harmonious whole with beautifully defined grapefruit/melon aromas and complex lanolin nuances. The palate is richer and fleshier but remains tightly bound by acid – as if all the elements are woven together.
Showing all the hallmarks of southern Margaret River fruit, the highly perfumed, muscular and energetic Cabernet Sauvignon is evolving as one of the best from the region. The low yielding vineyard is located on deep gravel and loamy soils over sandy gravel sub-soils. Vinification takes place in closed fermenters regularly pumped over with extended skin maceration. The wine is matured in a combination of 40% new French oak and used Chardonnay barrels for 2 years. A proportion of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot are also added to the blend for complexity.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Margaret River wine with pronounced blackcurrant/cassis, earthy, leafy characters. It has a highly concentrated palate with fine, but muscular tannins, underlying new oak and tremendous buoyancy of fruit. These wines have reached a new level of quality over the last few years and worth seeking out.
Through the Art series labels Leeuwin Estate has built up an impressive collection of contemporary Australian art which hangs at the winery in Margaret River. The Siblings and Prelude ranges are highly reliable wines and in tip-top vintages can completely over deliver in the quality stakes.
Leeuwin Estate is one of Australia’s greatest family owned wineries. Dennis and Trish Horgan have contributed enormously to the local and national wine community and the international agenda of Australian wine. Their extraordinary generosity of spirit seeps through into their wines.Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's