Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 2021


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“The 2021 Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay is a multi-clonal wine: Davis 1, 5, Dijon (95, 96, 76), which is distinct from the Art Series Chardonnay, which is Gingin clone solely. The vineyard sources vary as well as the winemaking practice, allowing the winemaking team to try different processes and vessels in order to tease out different characters and textures. You get almond meal, preserved citrus and graphite. It’s complex texturally yet still tight and linear. It’s very good—both fresh and satisfying, with lightness and density at once. Flavorsome, lithe and long. Of the designated Prelude batches, 40% to 50% are left unsulfured and stirred twice a week. “Freshness and acidity are the corridor, and we build texture and complexity around that,” says Chief Winemaker Tim Lovett. To put the complexity of the Chardonnay program at Leeuwin into context: in 2022, 32 parcels of Chardonnay came into the winery (from the estate and Peppy Park vineyards) waiting to be designated to either Art Series or Prelude; the parcels are then broken down further into batches to trial coopers, winemaking, etc. Drink: 2023-2033. 93+ 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)