“Talent perceives differences; genius, unity”….. William Butler Yeats

Recently, I had an opportunity to meet with Neil McGuigan of McGuigan Wines from Hunter Valley, Australia.  In addition to the “Mc” prefix of his last name, I was drawn to his wine being from Australia because it was from Australia.  Fact is, with such famed areas as Margaret River, Yarra Valley, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Hunter and others, what’s not to like about the potential of Australian wine?

But it can be found. A sufficient amount of head busting plop became popular here from that country (and no, I will not mention label or labels).  Enough so, that it turned me off to the wines in general, though I should know better and do.  Some of the best Cabs and Syrah (Shiraz) in the world have come from there. So has some delightful Riesling. But I’m not alone in that experience.

Then too is the reality that I’m an “old world” guy.  That’s not to be admitted by wine reviewers, but I value truth over popularity and maintain that we all suffer, to some degree, by that benchmark that first impressed us as to what constitutes the makings for “quality” wine (see  Australia is the innovative capital of wine production after all.  From viticulture, to closures, to label design, Australia is the current “first” in things. Enough said.  Hopefully, intellect and reason triumph over emotion and I can freely admit that it did so upon tasting this 2016 Chardonnay “The Plan”.

I feel compassion for any winemaker who takes on Chardonnay to begin with.  After all, with people so divided over and absolute about their preferences, I don’t feel much guilt over those of mine already admitted.  Oaked, not oaked? All stainless with no malolactic?   Stop it!  Chardonnay itself is rather a neutral grape and benefits from some degree of coaxing. Besides, there should be room for different styles because you will undoubtably be required to match different styles with different meals. 

McGuigan hit a bullseye on the balance target with his Chardonnay. It works, for me, as a versatile wine that can be enjoyed on so many different occasions. The wine shows elegant stone fruit and a touch of creaminess, or as McGuigan says, “all part of the plan”.  Without knowing the price point, I tasted the wine and was impressed by its aromatic complexity: quince, kiwi, lime crème. Tropical and floral aromatics, lemony acidity ….. a creamy palate, and all in one glass.  Just a touch of vanilla oak, more like a grace note, in the background balancing the citrus.

Some of the wines sampled at the tasting.
Oh, the sacrifice!
100% Chardonnay, about 25% undergoes malolactic fermentation.  Extended lees contact contributes creaminess. And “light use of oak” means the use of staves, not new French oak barrels. But before the snobs among us recoil, I suggest they taste this wine because, ultimately, it’s what’s produced, what is in the glass that matters.  My take is that McGuigan has zeroed in on preferences for balance, but not via compromise.  Everything about this wine bespeaks finesse, delicacy and subtlety.  McGuigan explains that it’s all about “oxidizing sulfur.”  I get his point, but it’s simpler to just trust my taste buds. They told me the wine is fresh, but not overly acidic.  Among us older folk, that means you won’t get “reflux” after a second glass.  And a second glass is easy to want.  It’s creamy but not heavy.  It’s offers fruit and texture but is not too weighty or forward.    

Apparently, I’m in good company in this assessment.  “The Plan”
Neil McGuigan (l) and The Mizer
wines are among the best-selling wines in Australia with four expressions: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and a Red Blend.  McGuigan has been awarded “International Winemaker of the Year” four times (a record) by the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. Additionally, McGuigan Wines has been awarded the “Australian Producer of the Year” in 2009, 2011 and 2012.  A red, produced by McGuigan, is the #1 selling wine in Australia.  And now, McGuigan wines has come to the States.

Many a good Chardonnay is made around the world and I wouldn’t purport to opine which is “best.”  All palates, as I have often said, are personal and right for the owner of that palate.  But I can say that not many a Chardonnay offers all that McGuigan’s “The Plan” does and certainly not at a suggested retail price of $11.99.  Perhaps Yates would approve. The “Plan” Chardonnay has found a common ground that just might be able to unite the Chardonnay camps.


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McGuigan Wines:                   
ALC:                                                      12.5%
TA:                                                         5.5g/L
pH:                                                         3.35
RS:                                                         9 g/L

Suggested Pairing:  Creamy pasta or risotto, roast or creamy sauced chicken, shellfish and salmon, cheese or ham-based salads, macadamia nuts, crab cakes and scallops (or chowders). 

Stay tuned for a review or reviews of other McGuigan wines landing ashore here.

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