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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Crisp Australian Chardonnay for Under $20

O'Leary Walker Chardonnay Barossa Valley Blue Cutting Road 2006

Thomas Matthews
Posted: April 21, 2009

A recent trip to the green market provided ultrafresh flounder fillets, and my mother-in-law requested I cook them meunière: floured, sautéed in butter, then lightly sauced in brown butter and lemon.

I stopped into my local wine shop and found an articulate salesman pouring Australian wines, including a Chardonnay from O'Leary Walker under their Blue Cutting Road Label ($18). My assumption is that Australian Chardonnays are generally ripe, oaky and a bit overenthusiastic for subtle food, but the salesman told me this Barossa Valley version was clean and crisp, made without oak, and only 12.5 percent alcohol. (It's also topped with a screw cap.) "It's perfect for delicate dishes like fish fillets sautéed in butter," he said. So I bought it (with a 10 percent discount during the tasting).

He was right. The wine was medium-bodied, zesty, with pretty citrus and floral notes, and stayed fresh and clean with the fish and its sauce. My mother-in-law was happy. 87 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members:
• Find scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Australian Chardonnays.
• Plus, our quick lists of Top Values and Easy Finds among Australian whites.

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