Given our familiarity with Penfolds’ famed red wines over the past few decades, it’s no surprise that many wine drinkers would reach for the familiar Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz or Penfolds Grange for a special occasion. Yet there are so many reasons why you would be tempted to savour Penfolds Chardonnay or Riesling, whether you desire a light, fresh tipple at sunset or a more serious, mature match after dark.
Part of the reason why Penfolds’ white wines are so consistent and polished is that they have been securing top winegrowing sites across Australia. And while winemaking is anything but straightforward, as different factors such as weather conditions, soil types and ripeness of the grape that make up the final blend of each vintage have to be considered, the aim is to consistently produce white wines that are perfect for every mood, occasion and gathering. But how do you decide which of the different Chardonnays or Riesling to reach for?
Firstly, to enjoy a good Chardonnay, you need the right glassware on hand. That’s especially true as you’re having the oak-aged, fuller-bodied styles of the Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2018, and to a lesser extent the Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2019. Both are barrel fermented and aged eight months in large French oak barriques, giving them a structural, rich texture that will show up in long wine legs in your glass.
The type of stemware that works best for these two wines are those with a large bowl, which allows the wine to aerate better. This coaxes out the layers of aromas that are concentrated in the wine, as Chardonnay tend to be less forthcoming aromatically than Riesling. The larger rim of the glass will also deliver the wine across a broader part of your palate, allowing you to better appreciate the pleasant fruitiness, followed by persistent, mouthwatering citrus notes that mark these as cool-climate Chardonnay.
Yattarna is Penfolds’ icon Chardonnay drawn from the top performing plots in Tasmania, Tumbarumba and Adelaide, and carefully crafted with the same care as a top Burgundy. If you are celebrating a special occasion with a younger Yattarna, such as the current 2018 release, you will want to use a decanter to draw out the wine’s voluminous dimensions. But don’t get too rigorous—you want to wake up the wine, but not agitate it completely. Swirl the wine smoothly in the decanter while checking its condition, and give it 10 to 15 minutes in the decanter before trying your first sip.
If the wine is too cold, decanting also helps bring it to the ideal drinking temperature of 11 to 13˚C, allowing for its white stone fruit and mineral notes to bloom. Conversely, if the wine is warming up too quickly, you can immerse the decanter in an ice bucket.