Best Value Winery – 2016 – James Halliday Wine Companion
The ‘Old School’ Chardonnay is an absolute cracking Western Australian wine! It is made using fruit from some of the most mature vineyards in WA. West Cape Howe Wines’ range is brilliant – and excellent value for money. Their ‘Old School’ Chardonnay is our focus today. It is a beautiful and exquisitely flavoured Chardonnay, perfect for any occasion.
Scroll down for tasting notes and some information on French oak barrel fermentation and aging.
West Cape Howe Wines, Mount Barker in the Great Southern Western Australia
“Harmony, Balance, Structure and Flavour”
What Makes ‘Old School’ Chardonnay So Good?
• Fermented entirely in French oak (for five months) and then processed through malolactic fermentation (MLF)(*1,2).
Curious about French oak fermentation? We have some notes on this below.
• Beautifully textured.
• Plenty of dark stone fruits.
• Balanced acidity.
• Toasty oak.
We couldn’t agree more with Alex from Summer Hill Wine Shop when he said:
“This is an absolute cracking white wine if you’re after that old-school style of Chardonnay.”
Scroll down for the tasting notes for Old School Chardonnay.
Cape to Cape Shiraz & Franklin River Shiraz
In addition to the feature wine (‘Old School’ Chardonnay), we also recommend West Cape Howe’s Shiraz’s.
Their Cape to Cape and Franklin River cool-climate reds offer a bit more spice, more pepper and liquorice with those scrumptious dark fruits. They are both medium-bodied, with dark colouring and are ideal to enjoy now or in the coming years.
The Cape to Cape Shiraz is another offering of great value, starting at only $13.99 per bottle.
‘Old School’ 2021 Chardonnay from West Cape Howe’s Mount Barker Vineyard in Western Australia
This wine over-delivers on quality for its price!
We never start with the price of wines (even if they are exceptional value). However, the West Cape Howe range is so affordable that the pricing can’t be left as a footnote. There is no compromise on quality, winemaking techniques or a lack of passion.
So, how much for a bottle of Chardonnay fermented in French oak? $15.99. Need we say more?
Tasting Notes: 2021 ‘Old School’ Chardonnay
West Cape Howe, Langton Vineyard, Mount Barker
Aroma: First on the nose is freshly harvested, super ripe honeydew and rockmelons(*2). It is sweet, refreshing and begs to be included in hot summer afternoon drinks and morning picnics in the park.
Palate: You may need a second glass to take in all the flavours and complexity of this Chardonnay. Juicy melons from the aroma develop with flavours of nectarines and white peaches. Subtle hints of honeyed vanilla and toasted oak add to the flavour profile and full texture(*2).
Finish: A nicely flavoured, somewhat weighted and lengthy finish(*2).
French Oak Fermentation
French oak imbues soft, elegant textures and flavours into wines(*3). Both French and American oak are commonly used however, French oak is harder to source – thus the hefty price tags of up near $1000 for each barrel(*3). The flavours that new vs used barrels impart on the wine also differ giving winemakers plenty of creative avenues(*3).
Each wine varietal benefits from varying lengths in storage whether in barrels, steel or bottled. The fermentation and aging processes allow the fruit time to develop. It is during this process that all the hard work put in by the vineyard start to become reality.
When wine is fermented in barrels, carbon dioxide that is produced during this process can naturally escape rather than being stuck inside the bottle with the wine. There are lots of different chemical changes happening during this process. We are not chemists by any means however we do highly appreciate the efforts and expertise that all come together to produce wonderful wines such as those from West Cape Howe.
In a future blog, we will take a deeper dive into fermentation. By understanding this aspect of wine making, we can better understand our own wine tastes.
P.S. Did you know that the West Cape Howe team raise funds for motor neuron disease? Head to their website to find out more about MND fundraising.
*1. Summer Hill Wine Shop. West Cape Howe Old School Chardonnay 2021 - Mount Barker. YouTube video. 2022.
*2. Summer Hill Wine Shop. 2021 West Cape Howe Old School Chardonnay Mount Barker. 2022.
*3. Kimball, S. Why Winemakers Use French Oak Barrels. Crush Wine Experiences. 2022.
"*4. Grapeworks. Wine Fermentation: Why is Aging a Vital Process in Winemaking? 2022.