Murdoch Hill has been in the Downer family since 1939 but vines were first planted here only in 1998. The farm is on the eastern side of the Adelaide Hills in the Onkaparinga Valley, with 21 hectares of vineyard on shallow red loam soils packed with schist and limestone and up to 516 metres above sea level. Since taking over the winemaking reins in 2012, Michael Downer has taken the farm’s wines to similar heights.
The 2019 Chardonnay comes from premium vineyards in Lobethal, Oakbank and Piccadilly Valley, each small parcel providing a different sort of profile. Hand-picked then whole-bunch and whole-berry pressed straight to barrel (a mixture of barriques, puncheons and foudres, with 15% new oak) for natural fermentation. Generally no malolactic but a small portion is allowed to go through partial malolactic fermentation to add complexity and soften the acidity.
This modern and refined style of Chardonnay exhibits all the typicity of the Adelaide Hills, with white peach, citrus and grapefruit along a fine acid line. Careful lees work and oak selection give the wine complexity and structure.