You probably knew someone in school like this: They were good at everything, straight A grades, always a smile on their face, always surrounded by friends and always on the winning football/rugby/rowing/darts team. It was fruitless to hate them – they’d probably just come and give you a big hug and make you feel even more bitter.
Chardonnay’s exactly that kind of over-achiever – even the haters are palmed quickly off onto Chablis or Jura. It’s a grape variety that excels at just about anything – world domination – serious, oak influenced and age-worthy – mass-market supermarket plonk – nervy, fresh yet utterly distinct and natural. Even adding a bit (or a lot in this case) of skin contact works beautifully.
Exhibit A today is a 100% Chardonnay from a hip Aussie winemaking duo – William Downie, who became infamous for his $100 Pinot Noir in 2013, and compatriot Jason Searle, together “Save our Souls“. The fruit hails from the relatively cool climate Mornington Peninsula area, and was treated with the utmost respect – whole bunch fermentation in tank, with no additions of any kind, excepting a pinch of SO2 at bottling.
Skin on Skin 2015 has a gingery, tannic kick, the gift of a full 6 weeks of maceration. The fruit feels pure and ripe – pineapple, honeydew melon, pear. From the tech notes, it seems there was no oak maturation of any kind. In my view that was a missed opportunity, as this wine slightly lacks depth in the mid-palate – and on the first day we opened it, the tannins seemed a little spiky, not quite integrated with the rest of the palate.
That said, it’s great to see winemakers down under doing more with this style. Even if I don’t feel this is a barnstormer, it’s very enjoyable, with a pleasingly earthy yet rather elegant quality. A personal hatred in new world “orange wines” is lack of acidity – and that wasn’t an issue here at all.
Skin on skin is also a wine with plenty of potential – It’s worth putting a bottle right at the back of the cellar/shoe cupboard/fridge.
The boys have a helpful info page on the site, but to order a bottle, you probably have to be in either Australia, Norway, Japan or… Macau.
Chardonnay really does get everywhere.
Many thanks to Michael Zaccaria from distributor Quelvino, who got this bottle half way round the world to me in Amsterdam.