Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2020


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“The 2020 vintage in Margaret River was moderate to warm and will be forever remembered for the incredibly compacted harvest period, which started two weeks earlier than the 2019 harvest before it and was all wrapped up by Easter—that’s largely unheard of. The 2020 Art Series Chardonnay leads with power and density, not unlike the 2018 before it. Tight and green in the glass, you get salted pear, white peach, nectarine, red apple skins, preserved citrus and crushed shell. The wine has minerality and tension within the confines of the opulent fruit. Staggering length, as usual. The winemaking remains relatively consistent across the years: hand-picked fruit from Block 20 and 22 (planted in 1976 and 1978, respectively). Thirty percent of the cuvée was whole bunch pressed to 100% new Burgundian oak, while the balance was destemmed, crushed and pressed to 100% new Bordelais oak. Sulfured post-ferment in order to discourage malolactic fermentation, both components remain in barrel for 11 months. Super wine. Drink: 2022-2047. 98 points

The release of the Art Series Chardonnay (in this case, the 2020 vintage) is tasted in this manner at the estate each year prior to vintage. This year, in 2023, we consider three verticals: Art Series Chardonnay 2020–1982, Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2019–2005 and the Art Series Shiraz 2011– 2021. In attendance at the tasting were siblings Justin and Simone Horgan (joint directors of the estate), winemakers Tim Lovett and Phil Hutchinson and estate viticulturist David Winstanley. As is usual for the wines from these vintages, the 2014 and 2018 Cabernets from Leeuwin Estate were standouts in this vertical. So, too, the cooler 2019 vintage. 2018 and 2019 are an interesting pair to compare, as I am reminded time and time again of their differences in style and personality now that they have settled in bottle. The two vintages were really quite different in conditions, and that, pleasingly, has yielded two very different wines in the glass. Personally, I have a penchant for the power and grace of the 2018; however, the aromatic detail and black heart of the 2019s is just as attractive, on different days of the week. No right or wrong. Just different. Though known for the Art Series Chardonnay, and for good reason, the quality of the Cabernets increases with every year that goes by (we can look to vine age, refinement of style, etc.). In terms of vintages to come, there is the warm and low-yielding 2020, the moderate but wet 2021 vintage, the warm and dry (and by all accounts and according to my 80+ barrel tastings) excellent 2022 and the cool, long, moderate and super fine 2023. Exciting times ahead for this region, and indeed, Leeuwin Estate.

Erin Larkin, Wine Advocate (07/23)