- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Penfolds, “Thomas Hyland” Chardonnay, South Australia, 2002, $13

Most Australian chardonnay tastes rich but soft, even flabby, as the hot climate saps up acidity, leaving wines in tenuous balance. Conscientious vintners grow chardonnay in cool regions such as the Adelaide Hills or Eden Valley, but even there, the wines struggle to have sufficient verve and vigor.

Penfolds’ “Thomas Hyland” Chardonnay from the exceptionally cool 1992 vintage is a delicious exception. It offers plenty of ripe tropical and citrus fruit, but it supports those flavors with a firm backbone, so it tastes crisp and refreshing.

The 2002 summer was one of the coldest on record in South Australia, with an extended growing season and a late harvest. Yields were down, but, especially for white wines, quality was way up.

Drink this delightfully refined but full-flavored wine with rich seafood or poultry dishes. This time of year, crab cakes or soft-shells would be perfect partners.

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