(2022) A wine I scored 95/100 when tasted 18 months ago, this was fermented in new French oak barriques with regular lees stirring, followed by 11 months in barrel. It comes from the original 1970s plantings, on gravel over clay soils. It's a riper, bigger style that nods towards the golden Chardonnay era but pulls up way, way short: there's a hint of minty character, but a balancing whisper of flint, and a more tropical fruit quality. Super ripe and sweet fruit on the palate, nectarine and a fat, juicy lemon, an underpinning of nutty oak, but again the acidity streaks through in a classic Old World/New World fusion style.
(2022) From an excellent vintage, the Art Series Chardonnay is fermented in 100% new French oak barriques, with a percentage of whole bunches in the mix. The wine is blended after 11 months in barrel. Despite that significant oak treatment, this has a gentle mealiness and creamy almond quality rather than anything overtly toasty. It seems a tad more precise than the previous vintage. There is a little buttery Brazil nut beneath, but also a certain coolness to the fruit, a hint of tangerine to peach and ripe pear. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and has very good freshness, the acid sparky and streaked with lime, that cuts through more buttery and tropical fruit flavours. Again there's salinity, and that plus the zesty citrus gives this fine definition, with a bit of grip too.
(2021) From two esate vineyards on red/brown gravel, this was whole-bunch pressed to barrel, with wild yeast ferment and 50% malolactic. Batonnage over 11 months in barrel before transfer to stainless steel barriques for a fruther three months. This wine blends both Gingin and clone 95 Chardonnay. Cool, elegant, much less stridently flinty than some of the other wines here. The oak is subtle, imparting just a soft sheen to the fruit. In the mouth lots of grapefruit and lime, lots of pithy citrus acids, but real brightness to the fruit, taut and luminous, a long finish of fruit and acidity and gently supportive creamy oak.
(2021) From 39-year-old vines, and all Gingin clone, fermenation of whole bunches in French oak barriques (30% new) with wild yeasts. Nine months of batonnage, before certain barrels were selected for this bottling. This has one of the most subtle, nutty, crushed oatmeal and almond characters on the nose, the fruit like melon and ripe Cox's pippin apple. Lovely sweetness as it strikes the palate, lovely ripeness and mouthwatering peach juice fruit, but it is soon swept up in mineral salts and lemon, a gently supportive underpinning of creamy oak, but glistening and pure into the finish. Great elegance and power.
(2021) All barrel-fermented in new French oak barriques with lees stirring, followed by 11 months in barrel, 100% new Bordelais barriques. From the original 1970s plantings, the fruit absorbs the oak easily, retaining a floral edge to the perfume, cool but dense white fruit, and then a nutty, very lightly smoky barrel note comes through. In the mouth there is real substance here, a real grip with some skin-contact notes, but driving acidity of minerals and lemon pith, a lovely tension in this wine, the oak again just lying quietly beneath, and the tingle and tang of souring lemon acidity along with fresh fruit pushing the finish.
(2020) From a selection of the best vineyard plots of Vasse Felix's estate, the lenedary 'Heytesbury' was aged in French oak barriques, 53% New. It strikes a fine, fine mid-way point between schisty and smoky minerality and ripe fruited generosity, notes of flint and cordite melding with peach and honeydew melon. On the palate medium-bodied and creamy in texture, the acid balance is perfect really, tensioning a picture of hazelnut and ripe, juicy apple and nectarine, a shimmering freshness extending into a long, delicate, but intense finishe. Note that Ocado lists the 2016 at £39.95, so this new vintage may become available for a little bit less in due course.
(2018) This is the only wine that see 100% new oak, all French and all small barrels. 100% Gin Gin fruit is given some skin contact, with some barrels fermented with wild yeasts, others inoculated, spending a further 11 months in barrel, Lovely delicate perfume here, gentle creamy and almond oak influence, a touch of mint. The palate has ripe fruit in a nice mid point between sparky, juicy, tingling acid and a hint of the tropical as the fruit tightens up to mint and lime leafy juiciness.
(2017) Obviously a broader fruit spectrum following the shock of two Grosset Rieslings, a layer of cashew and almond too over ripe pear. Mouth-filling, long and poised, there is plenty of ripe fruit, but it stays on the pear and stone fruit spectrum, elegantly framed by its acidity and the gentle creaminess of the oak.
(2017) More developed toast and nuttiness than the 2012, cashew again, lime and hints of more tropical fruit. Great concentration on the palate, such a tight, intense thrust of lime acidity and burst of orange-bright fruit, again just touching on more tropical, guava-like notes, but the tension of the acidity reins that in beautifully.