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  • Jane Staples

Once Upon a Tasting – Lunch with “Mr. Chardonnay”of Robert Oatley Wines

Updated: May 14, 2018


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.

One of my wine tasting adventures took place at the Empire Grill in Ottawa and combined all of the above, plus wine economics, changing markets and considerations for the future.

Chris 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.

With his easygoing Aussie charm, Chris, or “Mr. Chardonnay” made us all glad to be part of the International Wine Family.

We 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!

My favourite wine from the tasting was the Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012. 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.

I’m sure I speak for all at our table when I say “Mr. Chardonnay”- Here’s to You!




Jane Staples, Certified Sommelier & Wine/Food /Travel Writer