In the 1990s, when Penfolds spent years secretly developing a high-end white wine counterpart to its Australian icon-status red wine Grange, Chardonnay was not a slam-dunk choice. A great deal of effort went into experimental bottlings of Sémillon and Riesling, then considered Australia’s classic white wines. But in the end, Penfolds chief winemaker John Duval told me then, Chardonnay won out because it was most compelling. Truth be told, there was also a feeling that there were fewer classic Chardonnays to compete with.
The result was Yattarna, an aboriginal name translated as “little by little.” Although it quickly rose to the top tier of Australian Chardonnay, it was and is developing incrementally. Penfolds chose an approach to Yattarna that is, well, unique. As it has come into focus, especially in the past five years, the style goes for the crisp, lean, racy balance that comes from cool-climate grape sources, not at all in vogue in Australia when Yattarna was introduced, but does not rely on Burgundian winemaking methods.
Today I tasted a complete vertical of Yattarna all the way back to the 1995 debut vintage. Here are my non-blind scores and tasting notes.
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