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Oakridge - New (Awesome) Direct Imports - 09/03/2013 - Australia

The wines of our latest direct import partner Oakridge Estate completely blew my mind. These are some of the most unique, complex and remarkable wines I have ever come across, period. The wines are precise, linear, focused, balanced and have unbelievable length on the palate. The huge scores they just received illustrate this greatness. The Chardonnays (their specialty) will completely redefine what most people think of Australian wine. I honestly put them on a par with the finest White Burgundy that I have ever tasted, at any price point. They are the definition of drive, tension and complex minerality. There is not a hint of “butter” here; they are decidedly much more “Chablis / Puligny” than “Carneros”. Winemaker David Bicknell is a 20+ year veteran of his craft and believes the exceptionally cool 2011 vintage in Yarra Valley has produced the most remarkable white wines of his long career. We have a fantastic selection of these exceptional Chardonnays both from Oakridge’s single vineyards and “864” single block range. Oakridge Estate also makes a delicious fresh, snappy, zesty Fume Blanc. An exceptional bright, elegant, earthy, very Burgundian styled Pinot Noir; and a powerful, concentrated and structured Shiraz.

All of these wines are top class as recognized by Australia’s most renowned wine critic James Halliday with a plethora of 95 and 96 point scores. (Halliday has been professionally reviewing wines for 34 years and has authored more than 40 wine publications). Just last week Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate also published its Yarra Valley review and reiterated Halliday’s thoughts awarding more high scores and praise for the Oakridge wines. We are very pleased to be offering these wines exclusively to K&L customers thanks to our direct import program, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as we have.

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2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Barkala Ridge Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley ($24.99)

95 points James Halliday: "Sourced from the east-facing Barkala Ridge Vineyard, sited on the red volcanic soils of Wandin East. Identical winemaking for the Local Vineyard Series wines, with whole bunches pressed directly to 500L French oak puncheons for natural fermentation and 10 months maturation on lees; precisely framed and pitched, with intense grapefruit leading the way." (03/2012)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Barkala Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay shows intermingled notes of meal and struck match, pink grapefruit, spiced apples, toasted almonds plus some crushed stones. Light to medium-bodied, the palate has great texture and intensity enlivened by crisp and fresh acidity through the long, zesty and mineral-laced finish. Drink it now to 2016+." (08/2013)

K&L Notes: Oakridge winemaker David Bicknell rates the 2011 Chardonnay vintage as amongst the best he has experienced in 20 years making wine in the Yarra. The Local Vineyard designated wines are sourced from a combination of two or more selected vineyard blocks and made with the intention of expressing the unique character of Australia's cool Yarra Valley; in 2011 some of would easily have been considered as potential 864 single block level releases in other years. With a climate between Bordeaux and Burgundy in average temperature, the Yarra Valley is known for wines that display freshness and elegance.

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 24, 2013

I dare you. Put this in your next Chablis tasting and make sure it's in a paper bag. This will blow out your premier cru bottles that everyone was dying to taste and should bring home the gold. I couldn't believe it when we first tried this wine at our last Aussie event. Bursting with minerality and that classic oyster shell Chablis note, great acidity, lots of green apple tartness, and a lovely, racy finish. I bought myself a few bottles immediately after. L-O-V-E I-T!

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 24, 2013

I have been lucky enough to taste this wine twice and it is an exceptional value for the money. The vast continent of Australia has been represented in the past by gigantic, high alcohol reds in the US market, but thanks to the hard work of K&L's Ryan Woodhouse, we are starting to see the rest of the story! Fine wines like this Oakridge Barkala Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley never made it out of the country in the past, but now we have an opportunity to get access to these gems. This Chardonnay has delicacy and finesse on the level with many more expensive white Burgundy's, and those looking for a Chassagne like experience will be very pleased with this medium weight, detailed, long finishing wine from Oakridge!

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 22, 2013

Intensely flinty and mineral driven. Intriguing aromas of matchstick and spicy white oak. Bright quince and crunchy Anjou pears are highlighted on the long, linear and chiseled palate. Quite Chablis like. Very much for Burgundian Chardonnay drinkers rather than big butter bomb lovers.

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2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Chardonnay Yarra Valley ($24.99)

95 points James Halliday: "Sourced from the east-facing Denton Vineyard sited on a degraded granite soil plug near Yarra Glen. Despite the low alcohol, is the most delicate of the Local Vineyard Series Chardonnays, with white peach fruit up front, steely acidity coming on the finish." (03/2012)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Denton Vineyard Chardonnay presents attractive peach and apricot notes with hints of mandarin peel and white blossom and a little whiff of funk for interest. Light-bodied, crisp and clean, it brings a nice savory edge to the long, peach and citrus-filled finish. Drink it now to 2015+. " (08/2013)

K&L Notes: Oakridge winemaker David Bicknell rates the 2011 Chardonnay vintage as amongst the best he has experienced in 20 years making wine in the Yarra. The Local Vineyard designated wines are sourced from a combination of two or more selected vineyard blocks and made with the intention of expressing the unique character of Australia's cool Yarra Valley; in 2011 some of would easily have been considered as potential 864 single block level releases in other years. With a climate between Bordeaux and Burgundy in average temperature, the Yarra Valley is known for wines that display freshness and elegance. From the winemaker: "A traditional winemaking approach was used to produce this wine - hand picking and whole bunch pressing directly to 500 litre French oak puncheons for natural fermentation and a 10 month maturation on lees. The most delicate of the Local Vineyard Series Chardonnays. Complex with depth of flavour even at 12.5%. Deceptive length from soil origins framing pink grapefruit, lemon citrus and white nectarine."

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 22, 2013

The softest and most rounded of the Local Vineyard Series wine from Oakridge. Ripe orchard fruit, yellow peach and fresh apricots. Broader and less linear than the other vineyard expressions. Very charming and immediately expressive. Silky texture, elegant. A true expression of place as the wines are all made identically.

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2012 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Guerin Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley ($24.99)

96 points James Halliday: "Made using the tried and true approach of hand picking, whole bunch pressing direct to French oak puncheon for fermentation and 10 months maturation. Has that extra edge and precision of Upper Yarra Valley fruit, with a minerally spine to the grapefruit and white peach flavours."

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Guerin Vineyard Chardonnay is scented of yuzu zest, orange blossom and fresh lime juice with touches of toast, struck match and clotted cream. Light-bodied plus clean and very crisp through a long, mineral-laced finish, this tight-knit beauty should develop nicely over the next 4-6 years. (92+, LPB)"

K&L Notes: A little more flesh from the warmer 2012 vintage after the exceptionally cool 2011s. Interestingly this site seems to find the middle ground between the Barkala Ridge and Denton bottlings. Showing white peach, orchard blossom, citrus and raw almonds. Quite structured and serious with good density on the mid-palate. Perfectly integrated oak. 93+ points from the Wine Front: "The Guerin Vineyard is at Gladysdale in the Yarra Valley. When it comes to chardonnay, Oakridge's Local Vineyard Series is pretty much reliably sensational. This Guerin Vineyard chardonnay is spot on. Lithe, elegant, textural and tasty. Has a savouriness at its heart. Has lemon and lemon curd and lime flavours, with oatmeal and toasty oak and a quick strike of matchstick. Beautiful." Only 700cs total production.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 02, 2014

Beautifully focused Chardonnay with minerality in spades. Winemaker David Bicknell has a very distinctive style of crisp, linear Burgundian type Chardonnay. This wine is all about tension and focus with citrus notes, spices, hints of buttered toast and flint. The wine is a must try for fans of Chablis and less obviously oaky, buttery chardonnay. One of the brightest most zippy Chards we have.

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2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Charlie's Block: J&J D'Aloisio Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley ($49.99)

96 points James Halliday: "Bright straw-green; the spectacular power and intensity of the fruit has completely absorbed the French oak derived from 50% of the wine barrel-fermented new oak; the white peach and citrus fruit persisting in the mouth long after the wine has been swallowed."

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 864 Charlies Block Chardonnay exudes lovely green guava, pineapple, peach and sulfide aromas accented by yeast extract, some ginger and spice. Medium-bodied and quite creamy in texture, it drinks with great freshness and intensity through a long finish. Drink it now to 2017+. (LPR)" (08/2013)

K&L Notes: Oakridge was awarded "Winery of the Year" in 2012 on the strength of its legendary Chards. Winemaker David Bicknell is the king of Chard in Australia. The 864 wines are only released in the best years; Oakridge's Single Block line showcases their finest single vineyard and estate wines. They are to be treated and indeed judged against the best of what Burgundy can offer and we believe they truly measure up! From the Winemaker: "864 Block Selection: J & J D'Aloisio, Charlie's Block. North facing at 250 meters above sea level. Close planted in the red volcanic soil of Seville Village in 1985 using the P58 clone. All grapes hand harvested and sorted prior to whole bunch pressing directly to French oak puncheons for natural fermentation. 30% of the barrels were new. Post-fermentation, the wine was sulfured in-situ to prevent malolactic conversion from occurring and preserve the naturally high acidity. The wine was aged on its fermentation lees with minimal sulfur for 10 months prior to blending and bottling after a single filtration. Pale straw with bright green hues. Opens with strong citrus, white stone fruit, white flowers and hints of praline. The palate is full, expansive and rich grapefruit, nectarine, flint and white flowers moving along a taught and tangy line of citrus acidity. A changing and complex wine of depth and concentration that with time in the glass reveals perfumed musk, lemon curd plus wisps of smoke and spent matchsticks."

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 20, 2013

Best young Chard I have ever tasted, period. I am simply amazed by this wine. Drive, texture, complex layers of flavor so dynamic they defy description. Exotic spices, Agarwood, endless mineral tones. Simply amazing.

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2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Drive Block: Funder and Diamond Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley ($49.99)

95 points James Halliday: "Like all 864 chardonnays, whole bunch pressed direct to barrel for natural (wild yeast) fermentation, 30% of the oak new. The riper fruit aromas come through strongly on the bouquet and nectarine, white peach and melon flavours, grapefruit conspicuous by its absence. Two very different wines." (03/2012)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Release Funders Drive Chardonnay has a wonderfully yeasty / toasty nose with aromas of apricots, spiced apple pie and cashews over nuances of meal and preserved ginger. Light to medium-bodied, the palate offers mouth-filling stone fruit and bready flavors with crisp acid and a gentle silkiness to the texture going into a long, pleasantly nutty finish. Drinking beautifully now, it should cellar to 2017+. (93+, LPB)" (06/2012)

K&L Notes: Oakridge was awarded "Winery of the Year" in 2012 off the strength of it's legendary Chards. Winemaker David Bicknell is the KING of Chard in Australia. The 864 wines are only released in the best years, Oakridge's Single Block line showcase their finest single vineyard or estate wines. They are to be treated and indeed judged against the best of what Burgundy can offer and I believe they truly measure up! Winery notes: "Funder & Diamond vineyard, Drive Block. North facing at 230 meters above sea level. Close planted in the red volcanic soil of Wandin East in 1985 using the P58 clone. All grapes were hand harvested and sorted prior to whole bunch pressing directly to French oak puncheons for natural fermentation. 30% new oak. Post-fermentation, the wine was sulphured in-situ to prevent malolactic conversion from occurring, and to preserve the naturally high acidity. The wine was aged on its fermentation lees with minimal sulphur for 10 months prior to blending and bottling after a single filtration. Pale straw with bright green hues. Complex from the outset. Burnt match, pink grapefruit, lime leaf and ginger lily's vie for attention. Light on its feet and angular rather than broad and deep. Lime leaf, grapefruit, flint and minerals followed by brioche and lemongrass sitting over a crystalline citrus acidity. This is complex and tremendously long and will morph and move in the glass as it evolves."

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 30, 2014

If you had to blow $50 on a bottle of Chardonnay, you could do a lot worse than this--mainly because most California Chardonnays of this quality would cost you $100 rather than $50. The Drive Block has toast and a bit of popcorn on the palate, but it's completely balanced by a flinty minerality and vibrant acidity that prevent it from being too oaky or flabby. This is what I wish CA Chardonnay tasted like. I guess I'll just have to keep having it shipped up from thousands of miles below the equator however.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 20, 2013

A very worthy slightly leaner single block selection. Matchstick wood, oak spices, ginger snap, quince and lime blossom. Crisp acidity drawing out the palate into a linear force. Spectacular wine that I imagine will age for a decade plus.

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2012 Oakridge Limited Release Fume Blanc "Fumare", Yarra Valley ($24.99)

93 points James Halliday: "A 67, 23, 10% blend of Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and Pinot Gris. The aromas and flavours come from the Sauvignon Blanc, the structure from the Semillon. Cold, whole bunches pressed direct to old French Oak Puncheons with six months on yeast lees. A lot of work rewarded by its crispness and length."

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Fumare has a pretty nose of grapefruit, fresh peach and apple with a hint of lemon peel and wax. Light to medium-bodied, it is elegant, fresh and crisp with nice balance through the long finish. Drink it now to 2015+."

K&L Notes: Another standout wine! A fascinating blend of Sauvignon Blanc (70%), Semillon (20%) and Gris (10%). The fruit is from three of Oakridge's estate properties and is fermented and matured in neutral french oak puncheons. The wine is a distinct mix of Sancerre like minerality and bright zesty, floral aromatics, with more of the weight, texture and savory lees character of white Bordeaux (without the new oak flavors). Really long on the finish, snappy and racy. Awesome shellfish wine, move over Muscadet, this is what I'm drinking with my next Oysters! Ryan Woodhouse K&L Australian Wine Buyer.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 24, 2013

The wines of Oakridge changed the way that I think about Australian wine. The big, export-only reds of Barossa define this continent for to many of us, but I am happy to report that the Oakridge Fumare from Yarra Valley couldn't be more different from those jammy alcohol bombs. This fine white has a bright nose of grass and honey and medium to light weight on the palate. I love the long, high acid finish and can't wait to try it with some jumbo prawns on the grill!

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 22, 2013

Very fresh and fragrant. Floral and bright with summer blossom, snappy acidity and citrus flavors. The palate weight is surprising from a ferment and short maturation in French Oak Puncheons that really added great texture and complex lees characters. The acidity is racy but the time in neutral wood has rounded the palate ever so slightly in a positive way. Great wine for any Sancerre drinkers.

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2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley ($24.99)

93 points James Halliday: "Light but very bright crimson-purple; red fruit aroma lead into a vigorous palate that drives through to a long finish, with some savory/herbal notes on the back end."

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pale ruby-purple in color, the 2011 Denton Vineyard Pinot Noir opens with a wonderfully perfumed nose lifted with aromas of red fruits, roses, some dried herbs plus a little note of bark and pepper. The medium-bodied frame with medium levels of grainy tannins and zesty acid supports very good fruit concentration and a long finish with a slight herbal lift at the end. Drink it now to 2017+. "

K&L Notes: From the Winemaker: "Light purple, red. On the nose a fragrant raspberry and red fruit opening followed by black cherry, leaf litter and brown spices. The palate is both fruit-rich and structured showing sweet black fruit, toast, pomegranate, currants but also an underlying game-meat character and stalky thread.

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 24, 2013

This wine is lovely. That's the best word to describe it. There's a lovely core of soft red fruit, a lovely burst of baking spices, a lovely hint of tangy acidity at the back, and a lovely finish that sings of ripe raspberry. My new favorite pinot noir for the money. Oakridge wines are legit.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 24, 2013

When we tasted the fantastic line up from Oakridge yesterday in the staff tasting, my notebook was overflowing with superlatives. My favorite wine of the whole lot was this Denton Vineyard Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley. Not only did this fabulous wine break every stereotype of Australian red, it also offered a unique take on this most delicate of red wine grape varieties. This subtle, understated Pinot has a gorgeous ruby red color and is full of raspberry fruit on the nose. In the mouth it is very clean and light without sacrificing sweet Pinot character. The finish is as dry as a rich Burgundy and the wine has plenty of acid. I can't wait to try and fool Cinnamon with this next Sunday... I'll pair it with a roast chicken!

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 22, 2013

Elegant, medium bodied, bright Pinot. Lovely aromas of dusty red berries, leaf litter, dry bark and spicy wood notes. The palate echoes the aromatics with nice purity and savory undertones. Not a big blockbuster style, but one that uses subtlety, balance and poise to communicate the true beauty of Pinot Noir. Perfect for light game, pork,chicken,grilled fish.

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2010 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Whitsend & Oakridge Vineyard" Shiraz, Yarra Valley ($24.99)

95 points James Halliday: "Deeper colour than the 864 Winery Block; this is a very different proposition, with significantly more extract and darker fruit flavours; there is no reason why this wine should not last for 15 years or more." (03/2012)

K&L Notes: The 2010 vintage is Victoria has been hailed as superlative for red wine. Good, warm growing conditions, but without too-intense heat spikes, provided long, even ripening and very little disease pressure. This wine is intense, concentrated and structured Shiraz. This is not a big, over-ripe, fat wine but one of focus, balance and purity. Rich, but not overly extracted, dark red fruits with touches of spice and dried herbs and smoked meat. Food orientated. Quite accessible now but we think it will only get better with time. From the winemaker: "A fragrant mix of red and black fruits, the former dominant on the bouquet; cherry, plum and a touch of blackberry are supported by fine, almost powdery tannins and quality French oak.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 22, 2013

Intense, concentrated and structured Shiraz. Showing the high quality of the reds from Yarra Valley in the superlative 2010 vintage. This is not a big, ripe, fat wine but one of focus, balance and purity. Rich, but not overly extracted, dark red fruits with touches of spice and dried herbs and smoked meat. Food orientated. Quite accessible now but I think it will only get better with time.

More info about Oakridge online on our blog.