1997 Moss Wood Palandri Vineyard Chardonnay
When Bill Pannell first established Moss Wood he was assisted by Giovanni Palandri, who had come to Australia from Italy after the Second World War. Giovanni had worked in the local timber mill at Cowaramup and purchased a farm at Metricup, where he ran cattle. After he retired from the mill, he took the opportunity to help out in the newly established Wilyabrup vineyards as it gave him a chance to use some skills he had not utilised since he had left Italy. In fact, his basic understanding of vines was a significant help in those early days because skilled labour was virtually unobtainable. Giovanni worked at Moss Wood for many years, through two owners, until his death in 1985. A great friend, sadly missed.
The wine has a medium straw colour, with green tints. The nose shows aromas of mandarin, peach and citrus, with medium intensity and depth and background characters of bread dough, bacon and toasty oak. This wine was given a significant amount of lees stirring to increase complexity on the nose but the yeast derived characters do not appear exaggerated. On the contrary, they provide a nice earthy background. The wine is made from a different clone than the other two and is probably from a lesser site and so it does lack some fruit intensity and complexity in comparison. It shows mandarin and citrus flavours, of medium weight and length, with some meat, bacon and bread dough characters from the malolactic fermentation and lees stirring. The wine was aged in 100% new French oak barriques (as were the other two) and despite its finer style, the oak is well integrated.
After the industry began to flourish, Giovanni had planted some cabernet sauvignon vines on his own place. Later his sons added semillon, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. The major customers for the Palandri grapes are Houghton and Plantagenet and it was courtesy of Gavin Berry (Senior Winemaker at the latter) that we got the opportunity to bolster our 1997 chardonnay stocks by buying from this vineyard. Given our historical association with the property, it was a privilege to do so.
Metricup is about 10 kilometres east of Wilyabrup and, as a result, it experiences a more continental less maritime) climate. Whilst 10 kilometres may not be considered a very great distance, it results in some major differences in grape ripening. The best way to highlight this is to note that the Palandri vineyard, which carries the same crop level as Moss Wood, ripened nearly 4 weeks later. Moss Wood is grown on Scott Henry trellis, which maximises the vines’ ability to ripen the crop but this does not account for a 4 week difference. This also lends some credence to the French concept of “terroir” because the technique of production for each of the chardonnays was virtually identical and yet the flavour and structure of each is quite different. Unlike the Lefroy Brook Chardonnay, this wine is the result of a one off purchase of grapes.
As this is also a wine from older vines, we believe it is possible to make a fair assessment of its cellaring potential. Given its finer fruit characters and structure, we would recommend it for short to medium term consumption.