The Wishing Tree Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 is sourced from higher elevation vineyards in the Adelaide District (Barossa, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Adelaide Hills) of South Australia. The South Australia growing region provides over 50% of the wine produced in Australia and the vineyards are located not far from the coastline. The reason high elevation vineyards were used is Australia can be extremely hot during the summer months and the hillside vineyards are in a better position to receive cooling winds off the ocean. Grapes like cool nights and mornings and warn afternoons, the sun’s energy goes into the vines during the day and then the cool evening and morning slows things down. The on then off effect allows the grapes time to ripen fully. It seems every winery and winemaker has their own way of producing Chardonnay, the grapes chosen, using oak barrels for fermentation or aging, malolactic fermentation, aging “on lees” and other variations can all be used for all or portions of the juice. The Wishing Tree uses no oak barrels, the fermentation and aging is all done in stainless steel vats, there is no mention of malolactic fermentation, which is not unusual since malolactic fermentation (converting the natural tart acids to rounded tasting acids) is usually used with oak barrel aging. But, it was fermented and aged “on lees” or the French term for to “sur lees“, this indicates the dead yeast and grape residue are left with the juice, when stirred it can give the wine a creamy texture and flavor and sometimes a flavor reminiscent of cashews. The alcohol content is 13%.
The color is a clear, pale gold. The nose is interesting, floral, with Meyer lemon, melon, ripe peach, apple, lime, slightly nutty (must be the “lees”), spice, and pear. This Chardonnay has husky mouthfeel, interesting flavors and solid acidity. It tastes of a mix of lemon, melon and pear, followed by peach and sour apple. The mid-palate adds that creamy thing from the “on lees”, and some stone fruit. The acidity does a nice job of keeping things lively and the finish is full and lasts and lasts.
The Wishing Tree Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 is definitely not another variation on California Chardonnay. It is both tart and creamy, the flavors are ripe and juicy, this is not a cookie-cutter Chardonnay. On first sip I was thinking “I don’t know about this one” on second sip it more “yeah, I think I get this.” Sometimes with Chardonnay you can get jaded, you can basically expect a variation on a theme, all a little bit different from the last one, but variations just the same. The Wishing Tree Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 blew away my expectations, it was not what I expected, it has a heavier mouth-feel and body than some oaked Chardonnay, it is spicy in ways California Chards aren’t, it is a wine that will shake off your preconceived notions. Folks who drink $75 Chards or Burgundies may not understand what I am talking about, but a wine that I found for under ten bucks, that can surprise you (in a good way), is in may book, a very good wine.