The Salo Yarra Valley Chardonnay generally leaps to the front of the tasting bench when I get a hold of it each year. The 2012 comes from the same Gladysdale vineyard in the Upper Yarra Valley once again. 10% is fermented on skins and “squeezed back into the blend”. Wild yeasts with no malolactic fermentation this year. Oak is standard old 500 litre French puncheons barring one 700 litre oddity affectionately known as Helga. It’s a twelve year-old rounded puncheon-like vessel that was ‘bartered’ to winemakers Steve Flamsteed and Dave Mackintosh for a six-pack each year by Martin Williams MW. Flamo reckons it just seems to make beautiful Chardonnay. The wine was made at the Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander winery and benefited from the newly employed gravity flow system just as Giant Steps wines probably benefit from Steve and Dave’s explorations under the Salo label. A symbiotic relationship of sorts.
Mandarin, tangerine and orange skins make up a significant part of the bouquet, joined by campfire clothing and wild solids funk. The primary fruit flavours are generous and predominantly present on entry with crushed apples and fleshy pear joining the fray. Through the middle it becomes softer and more savoury with lees and smoky sulphides asserting themselves before it whips back tight on the finish. Nutty with richer roasted hazelnut characters presiding over almonds. The phenolics are deftly incorporated, contributing to the overall effect and making sure the finish is every bit as satisfying as all that came before. Honestly, I have no idea how it will age (although I intend to find out) but it sure is delicious and fascinating right now. The official release date is September at this stage. 94
Region: Yarra Valley
Tasted: July 2013