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(2022) Bilancia makes some marvellous Chardonnays, and this is the top of their range, from a single vineyard planted in 2001 with a number of different clones. Whole bunch pressed to French oak puncheons and barriques with fermentation by indigenous yeast, where it spent 11 months prior to bottling. A more subtle, and I have to say, elegant, nose than the Askerne, a buttery almond character, ripe peachy fruit. The palate is lovely too: there's a shimmering clarity to this, the keen lime edge to the fruit and acidity playing against toast and nutty richness, flinty precision extending the length of the finish.
(2021) Named after legendary winemaker Tom McDonald, this is made only in the best years, this is whole-bunch pressed and aged in French oak, about half of which was new. You have to like an overtly flinty, struck-match character here, with swirling smokiness, toast and intense preserved lemon and wild mint, a little peachier note. The palate has terrific freshness, with an oyster shell salt and mineral character slicing through that zesty lemon but ripe and succulent mid-palate fruit. No UK stockists at time of review.
(2020) From a single block of Chardonnay this is fermented with wild yeasts in barriques, and spends 12 months in barrel (38% new) with 100% malolactic fermentation. Lovely nose, the crushed almond and sheen of oatmeal over pear, melon, and lemon meringue pie is fairly obvious, but the palate is both racy and concentrated, nutty notes, bright and juicy orange, and a rounding fruit concentration and texture. Price and stockist quoted is for an earlier vintage at time of review.
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