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Giaconda, the iconic (and surprisingly small) winery in Beechworth (near Albury in northern Victoria) has over the past two decades carved out an enviable reputation as one of Australia's finest.  Few would dispute the consistency and quality of their revered Chardonnay, with a large number of excellent wines made from Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Roussanne and more recently Nebbiolo adding to its lustre.giaconda-vines.jpg
Yet despite this record of brilliance, I was unprepared for just how good Rick Kinzbrunner's 2010s have turned out.  I'm on record as stating that the 2010 Giaconda Chardonnay is, I believe, the best Chardonnay ever produced in Australia.  Obviously this is extremely subjective, and owes as much to my own personal preferences as it does to inherent wine quality, but having drunk virtually every vintage ever made of Giaconda, not to mention many (or perhaps most) of Australia's other great Chardonnays over many vintages, I think I've got some grounds to make such a statement.

The Giaconda style is unashamedly one to deliver pleasure. The wines have always been very complex and intense, with more than a touch of character derived from Rick's thoughtful winemaking techniques.  Whilst some vintages in the past decade have, I believe, been more than a little marked by the vagaries of climate and weather, the 2010 vintage is not just a return to Giaconda's halcyon days (especially 2004,  2002 and 1996) but in fact surpass them in my opinion.

As you would expect, the Chardonnay is the standard-bearer, but both Shiraz wines (from the Estate vineyard as well as the nearby, cooler 'Warner' vineyard) nip at the Chardonnay's heels.  The Cabernet Sauvignon harks back to earlier vintages, with it's cool, complex and savoury fruit flavours, whilst the Pinot Noir - which has always been the winery's weakest offering in my opinion - clearly benefits from not only being sourced from the Yarra Valley as well as the Estate vineyard in Beechworth, but also from the wonderful conditions this vintage offered.
The Chardonnay is available in both cork and screwcap seals (your choice), the Pinot Noir is only available in screwcap, while both Shiraz wines and the Cabernet Sauvignon are only available in cork - a vastly superior closure for Giaconda's style of these wines.

giaconda-cellar.jpgA couple of years ago, in typical 'no expense spared' style Giaconda constructed a new underground cellar.  Blasted from near-solid granite, construction took more than a year of blasting with dynamite, and those blasts could be felt a kilometre away.  I can only imagine what it's construction would have cost.  But this serves to highlight Rick Kinzbrunner's obsession with perfection, long-realised with his magnificent Chardonnay, and now utilised in his quest for truly great Nebbiolo (as mythical and elusive in Australia as the search for perfection in Pinot Noir).  The underground cellar is not merely an indulgence, but rather serves a practical purpose as well.  It's constant, cool temperature and very high (near 100%) humidity is perfect for barrel maturation of wines, and results in lower alcohols.
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