Cream of Coonawarra crop moves to 2020 vintage

“The Chardonnay is consistently among the region’s best,” wrote James Halliday of the sole white wine in the portfolio of Coonawarra leading light, the Balnaves family. This variety has always been treated here with the all the respect such a regal grape deserves – picked ripe but fresh, then handled with dexterity all the way into the bottle, where the winemaking serves to highlight the extremely high quality of the fruit.

2020 is no exception. “I like its style,” commented The Wine Front’s Mike Bennie. “I like the generosity but vitality. It looks the goods in its vibe.”

This is a wine whose entire journey was overseen by Jacinta Jenkins, erstwhile apprentice to the great Pete Bissell. With these exceptional Terra Rossa vineyards in the care of Pete Balnaves, and with Jacinta capitalising on Mr Bissell’s 30 years of experience, the Balnaves estate is in exceptional shape.

2020 Balnaves Chardonnay $32

Soft, creamy style, some green melon, grapefruit tang, zestiness and a sense of old school, good school to it. Really nicely put together, lots of flavour, you can see that the trajectory will head into a butter, honeyed style, but right now is pretty raw in a way, but in good shape, just not quite at the tightest apex of a young wine (bottled just a few weeks ago, tasted today). I like its style. I like the generosity but vitality. It looks the goods in its vibe.

92 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front

2016 Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon $43

The more concentrated wine of the three Bordeaux-inspired wines outside of the Tally Reserve. Black olive, bay leaf, graphite and cassis swirl about, bolstered by a sheen of sexy oak, following an extended 18 months in French gear (50% new). This is a crowd-pleaser already, with ample fruit and coffee grind tannins tapering to a long finish. This said, it will age prodigiously.

96 points. Ned Goodwin MW, James Halliday Wine Companion 2020

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