In 1999, Pinot Noir devotee Charles Smedley purchased 10 acres of land in Yarra Junction. This area was much colder than other areas of Yarra Valley and experienced higher than average rainfall. He set about planting Burgundian clone Pinot Noir, with an eye towards crafting elegant, signature Pinots displaying the terroir and character of the region. A decade later, the winery now has another larger vineyard where there is Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc under vine, all with that house style of elegance and sensibility. Mandala’s vineyards are hand-pruned and hand-harvested, with minimal intervention for the low-yielding vines. The long, cool ripening season allows full phenolic ripeness that ensures depth of flavour without high alcohol levels. These are characterful wines that have a level of complexity that truly tells the tale of the Yarra Valley.
The Yarra Valley is a well-respected Australian wine region which occupies the eastern half of the Port Phillip viticultural zone in the diminutive state of Victoria. One of Australia’s oldest and most celebrated wine regions, the earliest Yarra Valley vineyards were planted in 1838. The climate here is amongst the coolest of any Australian wine region, partly due to elevation—which reaches 500 masl—but mostly due to the hilly topography, which creates shadows, shelter and heat sink.
The Dixon Creek vineyard is the homestead for Mandala. The 104 acre vineyard averages elevations of 125-160 masl. Comprised of clay loam soil, the vines, averaging 25 years, are hand-pruned, hand-harvested and low yield.
Chardonnay is the world’s most famous white-wine grape and also one of the most widely planted, with the most highly regarded expressions of the variety coming from Burgundy and California. Climate plays a major role in dictating which fruit flavours a Chardonnay will have. Broadly speaking, warm regions such as California tend to give more tropical styles. While many Chardonnays have high aromatic complexity, this is usually due to winemaking techniques (particularly the use of oak) rather than the variety’s intrinsic qualities. Malolactic fermentation gives distinctive buttery aromas. Fermentation and/or maturation in oak barrels contributes notes of vanilla, smoke and hints of sweet spices such as clove and cinnamon. Extended lees contact while in barrel imparts biscuity, doughy flavours.
Grapes are hand-harvested and fermented via indigenous yeasts in a combination of older French oak and stainless steel tanks. Unfined, unfiltered.
Like all of Mandala’s wines, this is a lovely combination of New World fruit and Old World structure and complexity. The fruit leans toward bright, fresh citrus with underlying savoury, salty minerality. Mid-weight with bright acids and wonderful texture, reminiscent of good quality Macon from a warm vintage.