Brookland Valley is considered a benchmark winemaker in the world-renowned Margaret River region of Western Australia. It was named “winery of the year” in the 2009 edition of the highly regarded Australian Wine Companion. Editor James Halliday described the quality and consistency of the wines as “awesome”.
The vineyard’s portfolio consists of three levels: Verse 1, premium and reserve wines. Last year eight Brookland Valley wines received 94 points or above in Halliday’s book, including three chardonnays.
Constellation Wines Australia, owners of Brookland Valley, supplied samples of the newly released 2009 chardonnays. The Verse 1 is greenish-gold in colour with a nose of peaches and a palate that I found slightly sour but refreshing. The oak component is subtle with hints of vanilla. Tasted a day later, the acidity had softened and the aromas had intensified. This wine would best be paired with chili dishes such as seafood. It retails for $22.
The estate wine is defiantly chardonnay, with loads of fruit and oak. The oak charges forth like the Man of La Mancha while the fruit follows soon after like his devoted servant, Sancho Panza. The wine tastes creamy with complex flavours of grapefruit and melon. It won a gold medal at the 2010 Sydney wine show, one of Australia’s more prestigious events. It retails for $40.
The highlight was the reserve chardonnay. It received the royal treatment: it was hand picked, pressed as whole bunches, and kept on yeast lees for nine months. This last technique imparts bready and toasty flavours. The nose is flinty with minerally echoes and the mouthfeel is creamy and luscious, almost buttery though lean at the same time. The taste develops and the length continues in one’s mouth for ages – a sign of quality. This is a wonderfully attractive wine. It retails for $60 but you need to pay for this kind of quality.
Ross Pamment, who won the first Qantas young winemaker of the year award in 2001, said Brookland’s winemaking philosophy was simple. “Select the best fruit from the best vineyard sites, don’t interfere too much during the winemaking process and allow the regional and varietal characteristics to shine through.”
Brookland Valley winery and cellar door are in the Wilyabrup sub-region in the heart of the Margaret River. The Indian Ocean is two kilometres to the west and ocean breezes influence the ripening of the fruit. The vineyard started in 1984 with plantings of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, semillon and sauvignon blanc. It currently sources fruit from five of Margaret River’s six sub-regions, offering the winemakers a wide palette of flavour options with which to craft wines. The chardonnays are certainly worthy of note.
* “Brookland Valley chardonnays that are a class apart” in China Daily, 4 December 2010, 12.