Lunch with “Mr. Chardonnay” aka Robert Oatley Wines

AppleMarkBy: Jane Staples, Certified Sommelier

I love wine because it brings people together.  Wine offers something for everybody…whether you’re interested in the viticulture, or the facts and numbers, New Oak VS Old Oak treatments, or the timeless harmony between food and wine.  Then of course there’s the concept of “terroir” if you like a good argument.

Yesterday’s lunch at the Empire Grill in Ottawa combined all of the above, plus wine economics, changing markets and considerations for the future, especially when it comes to Australian wine.
03Chris Hancock, Deputy Executive Chairman of  Australia’s Robert Oatley Vineyards,  introduced us to several wines of Oatley’s 2012 vintage.  Oatley’s winemaking priorities are 1) wine texture and 2) the purity of the expression of the grape varietal.  We sat together around the table and shared a terrific meal and listened to this Master Winemaker, who not only taught, but in the fashion of a true educator, welcomed our own ideas and opinions.
04With his easy-going Aussie charm, Chris, or “Mr. Chardonnay” made us all glad to be part of the International Wine Family.
05We tasted Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, a Pinot noir and 3 Shiraz, including the soon-to-be-released  Four in Hand Barossa Shiraz 2012. This newest wine was developed by Bob Oatley after he retired;  he was restless at home and his wife told him to get back to work!
2014 01 2016 01My favourite wine from yesterday was the Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012, 13.5%.  This Pinot from the signature series shows strawberry and cherry on the nose, along with earthy and slightly spicy notes.  On the palate, it is quite fleshy, lightly savoury, with milk chocolate flavours, subtle oak and light tannins.  A long chocolate finish makes you smile as you pour another glass. Oatley uses the stalks as well as the grapes in making this wine, but doesn’t let the stalks overpower the fruit flavour.  They get the textural effects of oak without strong flavours.  Chris suggested trying this Pinot Noir paired with Thai food, which is popular in Australia.
Four HandsI’m sure I speak for all at our table when I say “Mr. Chardonnay”- Here’s to You!

Jane Staples 1 Jane Staples

Jane graduated from Algonquin College’s Sommelier Program with the Gold Medal in Food and Wine Pairing and a score of 94.5% in the final exam. She completed courses in Winetasting, Grape Varieties, Food and Wine Pairing, Old World Wines, New World Wines, Vinification and Advanced Sommelier Techniques. She also has a BA from the University of Toronto.

Jane is one of the most active wine reviewers for as well as for her own site,  Along with Shirley Plant, Jane co-authored the book Finally…Food I Can Eat!  She provides the wine pairings for the recipes as well as occasional articles for Shirley Plant’s blog. She also provides sommelier services and tastings for private functions, and is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Italian.

You can also see reviews by Matt Steeves and Heather Wall.




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