A Rodda 2018 Chardonnay Release

Adrian Rodda has been winemaking since 1998, originally working with David Bicknell at Oakridge. He was involved in the development of the superb Oakridge 864 Chardonnay, his final contribution to 864 coming in 2009. At the start of 2010 he and wife Christie, a doctor, moved to Beechworth and co-lease Smiths Vineyard with Mark Walpole of Fighting Gully Road. Smiths Vineyard, planted to chardonnay in 1978, is a veritable jewel. More recently the two have set up their wineries in the historic Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, a win on all fronts. JAMES HALLIDAY’S WINE COMPANION

The wines of Adrian Rodda probably don’t need a long winded spiel from me anymore so I will attempt to keep it short and to the point, not easy for me. Adrian is making some of the best examples of Chardonnay in Australia. He spent a number of years working along side Dave Bicknell at Oakridge where he honed his skills. He is now based in Beechworth where he has teemed up with one of the most respected viticulturalists in the country, Mark Walpole.

Today he makes three single vineyard Chards, Baxendale from the Vic high country is the newest member of the family and the Willow Lake (One of the Yarra’s best bits of dirt) and Smiths (The oldest vineyard in Beechworth) are the mainstays. All wines are essentially made the same way, his ambition is to demonstrate what he calls the fingerprint of the vineyards in each year more than any overriding winemaking influence. In saying that he has a gifted touch with the variety and it shows.

While his star has risen rapidly and he is now well known to a lot of consumers and in the minds of a lot of the industry his win with Best Wine in Show at the prestigious James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge last year has really cemented his position at the top and reinforced his stellar reputation.

As to the new releases, I tasted them in their infancy in barrel last year and they showed remarkable promise even in that early stage of development. Having just tried them again it is nice to see how they have grown through elevage. As a Bracket the 18s have a degree more flesh and fruit than their 17 counterparts but the vineyards shine through as strongly as ever. I commented that the Baxendale had this waxy red apple character again and Adrian noted that he sees something similar from the site each year (he has been making the wine for a friend for a number of years before adding it to his range). It feels to me to be the finest of the trio, more about ease of operation, its subtly seductive.

The Willow Lake is focused and punchy with plenty of amplitude to the intense fruit. It is the most captivating of the three today. With that being said the Smiths Vineyard is perhaps the most sophisticated, it had an intense and bold expression of fruit but the smoky elements mingle nicely amongst all that power and the fresh acidity keeps everything playing together nicely. It is a more immediately complete wine. I would love to see the three of them on the table again in say four or five years. Actually, Adrian if you read this when are you going to do a complete vertical of the wines to date?

As any fan of the wines will know they have a deservedly large following and last year they all sold out in a day and we had orders we couldn’t help with coming in for weeks. I suggest getting in early if you would like to grab some so as to avoid any disappointment. If I may also suggest taking the three wines, each is gorgeous and deserving of your attention.

Cheers and enjoy