It was 25 years ago that Chandon Australia winemaking director Dan Buckle felt the spark of inspiration. After treating his palate to the world’s finest wines, Buckle cultivated a vision of his own: to craft an exceptional cuvée that would put Aussie sparkling wine on the luxury map once and for all. At long last, Buckle’s dream has come to fruition. Dubbed Étoile, Chandon’s new multi-vintage blend culls from eight Vintage Brut reserves with additional maturation so as to redefine your very expectations of local production. A veritable passion project, it’s also a tastable ode to free thinkers, pioneers, stargazers, and wine lovers alike. Score a bottle starting June 8 and cellar it for approximately 10 years for the best results.
If anyone is going to upend our notions of Aussie sparkling wine, it’s going to be Chandon. Not only does the historic brand own the largest sparkling-wine estate in the world, but it produces locally at each of its respective six houses. The Australian house in Yarra Valley is no exception and it sources grapes from three distinct vineyard sites, representing a diverse array of terroirs, climates, altitudes, and soil types. Between that and the its time-tested production techniques, Chandon has reliably perfected the art of blended sparkling wine. With Étoile, the label may have created a masterpiece.
“You can think of wines in musical terms,” said Dan Buckle, the driving force behind Chandon’s latest release. “A single-vineyard Pinot Noir might be a Miles Davis trumpet solo—best left on its own. A vintage sparkling might be an orchestral piece with 60-80 parts all interacting in the blend to make something greater than any one instrument. And Étoile, this blend of blends, is the most complex of all, in terms of conducting and orchestrating so many elements.”
Pale straw in colour with a gentle but firm foam layer (aka mousse), Étoile delivers an enticing nose of Asian pear, white peach, lime, macadamia butter, and hints of apple blossom. The taste is surprisingly vibrant and gloriously layered, as notes of yuzu, bergamot, and white peach float over a base of pistachio whilst hints of pastry and allspice emerge and then recede on the palate. There’s also a soft and toasty element, the result of expert ageing inside 205-litre pièce champenoise barrels along with large foudres. Pair the wine with local crayfish and behold its ability to bring out the sweetness of the food before trailing out on a creamy finish.
Compositionally, Étoile blends the following eight Vintage Brut reserves: 2005 (6%), 2009 (1%), 2011 (4%), 2012 (19%), 2013 (47%), 2014 (4%), 2015 (10%), and 2016 (9%). It arrives on June 8 at select retailers for a suggested price of AUD$120 per bottle. Chandon recommends that you cellar it for 10 years but we certainly wouldn’t blame you for cracking this baby open as soon as you bring it home. Each luxurious sip tells a story that’s 25 years in the making and gives Aussie sparkling wine its due in the process. If you want to know what a symphony tastes like, here’s your chance.