Chardonnay is a grape of many names, usually shortened versions: chard, chardy, card-onnay… more, perhaps.  A most adaptable grape to site, winemaking style/input and vintage: yet it has found its mecca in Margs.

Australia is responsible for a really exciting array of chardonnays.  Really exciting.  There are some steely and mineral laden examples from Tasmania; fine, spicy and acid driven in Victoria (Yarra Valley, Beechworth etc); rich and complex from the Hunter Valley… in fact, if one was to get stuck into describing the different styles from the different regions, we would be here all day.  Suffice to say, where there are grapes there is chardonnay and like your group of friends, they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, moods, personalities and virtues.  So, what makes Margaret River such a hotspot for chardonnay?

The Gin Gin clone has a lot to do with it, but not everything.  Gin Gin is grown elsewhere and hasn’t elevated other regions to the status of Margaret River: so what is it? The clones + the maritime climate + the location of the vineyards (proximity to the oceans, angle of hills, sunshine, sea breeze and all other things) … all in combination form the unique terroir of Margaret River.  Add to that the talented winemakers who have chosen to make Margaret River their home and focus, and you’re essentially up to speed.

“an iron-clad structure, intensity with generosity, and sweet fruit with flowing natural acidity”  James Halliday

“I spent all last week tasting 2016 burgundies, but the more whites I tried, the more I lusted after the Western Australian alternatives I came across during a visit there last November.”  Jancis Robinson

 “All five of my favourites of the 22 wines, scoring 18 or 18.5 out of 20, were from Margaret River.  What’s great about them is that they have all the tension and precision (as opposed to fatness or, heaven forfend, oakiness) that is currently in vogue but, unlike many Chardonnays from the rest of Australia or even from cooler parts of California such as the extreme Sonoma Coast, they have enough fruit to counterbalance the acidity and austerity.” Jancis Robinson

The stats:

In the 2020 Wine Companion awards, Margaret River took out twenty one of the top forty two chardonnays in the country – not a bad result for a little region with a comparatively tiny (compared to national) output.

Margaret River was also responsible for five of the twelve Single Varietal awards (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon (and family), Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon Sauvignon Blends), winemaker of the year (Vanya Cullen) and Best Value Winery of the Year (Domaine Naturaliste).

The style:

The Margaret River chardonnay style is typified by the presence of ripe yellow peach, pink grapefruit acidity and a savoury salty spice character that underpins it all.  If you’ve ever read one of my chardonnay tasting notes you may notice the use of ‘curry leaf’ as a descriptor.  I find this in many of the Margaret River chardonnays, although I do not think it is a character endemic to the region.  Red apple skins, white stone fruit, brine, crushed nuts/cashews and a fine minerality all feature heavily too.  The chardonnays from Margs are distinctive from the  chardonnays from elsewhere, primarily due to the shape of the fruit profile, which to my palate, forms a comet-like shape over the palate: rounded and powerful at the front, driven and focused, with a tapering, long, fiery tail into the finish.

International Chardonnay Day is coming up on May 21st, so here are five to get you going:
Pierro Fire Gully Chardonnay 2018
Deep Woods Reserve 2018
Xanadu Stevens Road 2017 (splurge, but worth it)
Vasse Felix Heytesbury 2018 (another splurge, also worth it)
Windows Petit Lot 2017

And one for something a little bit different:
Walsh and Sons Little Poppet (Semillon/Chardonnay blend and bloody delicious, value!)

Part VI – Chardonnay’s the way

While Margaret River is renowned for producing many outstanding wine varieties, Chardonnay – along with Cabernet Sauvignon – has long stood out from the rest.

Said to mainly derive from the Gin Gin heritage clone, a high quality cutting so well suited to the Margaret River climate and topography it has long reigned supreme in the region’s vineyards, Chardonnay grapes have an intense fruit concentration that translates to complex flavours in the glass.

Chardonnay tends to vary drastically on the palate depending on where it is produced; the grapes adapt so well to their surrounding environment that the resulting wines truly encapsulate each sub-region.

Team a grape that reflects its locale with innovative and different winemaking styles, and you’ve got a variety of wine that has and will continue to surprise and impress.

Learn more about the Margaret River Wine Story – Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV & Part V.

Thursday May 21st might be International Chardonnay Day, but we think Chardonnay, the queen of the noble grapes, deserves much more than a day.  We thought we would start the celebrations early, and we’d love you to join us.

Now is a great time to invest in a few bottles of Chardy to enjoy at home or with friends, while practising social distancing, of course.



Wed 20 May –

Thurs 21 May –

Fri 22 May –


Dreaming of doing a Margaret River Chardonnay grand tour? This Chardonnay Trail features a mix of some of the region’s most iconic and some outstanding up-and-comers!  Is certainly a great place to start your holiday planning.

From Monday May 18, the travel restrictions from Perth-Peel, Great Southern and the Wheatbelt to the South West will be removed.   We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Margaret River Wine Region, but things will be a little bit different as we all adjust to the social distancing measures. Wine Tastings in WA are still not allowed unless having a meal.  To see the most up-to date-list of WHAT’S OPEN, make sure you click here.


See Ray Jordan’s Top White Wines from under $40 for some inspo for your summer wine shopping list!  There are so many great Margies wines to try, whatever your mood or budget!

Best Wine
Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2018 ($39) 95 points

Best value wine
Deep Woods Ivory Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($15) 93 points

Under $15
Deep Woods Ivory Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($15) 93 points
Amelia Park Trellis Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 ($15) 89 points
Brookland Valley Verse 1 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($14.95) 90 points

Xanadu Exmoor Chardonnay 2018 ($20) 93 points
Flametree Embers Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($18) 89 points
Xanadu Exmoor Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 ($20) 92 points
Amberley Secret Lane Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20)88 points
Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2019 ($19) 92 points

Xanadu DJL Chardonnay 2018 ($25) 95 points
Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Chardonnay 2018 ($22) 91 points
Forester Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($25) 94 points
Ashbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($24.95) 91 points
Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 ($25) 92 points
Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 ($24) 94 points
Hay Shed Hill Block 1 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($23.65) 94 points
Clairault Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 ($20) 90 points
Sandalford Estate Reserve Verdelho 2019 ($25) 92 points

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2018 ($39) 95 points
Xanadu Chardonnay 2017 ($39) 94 points
Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Chardonnay 2017 ($40) 94 points
Flametree Chardonnay 2018 ($29) 93 points
Voyager Estate Girt by Sea Chardonnay 2018 ($28) 92 points
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 ($32)
Thompson Estate Four Chambers Sauv Blanc Semillon 2018 ($25) 91 points
Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($27) 94 points
Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($31) 93 points
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($31) 92 points

This list has been taken from Ray Jordan’s Top 100 White Wines & Sparkling, published in The West Australian in November 2019.  The final list was chosen from nearly 600 wines submitted from all over Australia and New Zealand, which sell for $40 or less.

Full list click here