Whether it is Chardonnay or Shiraz, quality and individuality reign supreme at Nugan Estate. The 2015 barrel-fermented Nugan Estate Frasca’s Lane Chardonnay exhibits a beautiful pale straw, sunlit hue, but even more impressive is the wine’s intense aroma, redolent with the scents of ripe peach, pear, and melon, all of which come wrapped in a savory patina of vanilla from resting 14 months in French oak barrels. Rich and authoritative on the palate, yet lively and complex, this Chardonnay has the propensity to evolve in the glass with each sip, revealing layers of ripe fruit, subtle spice tones, and a refreshing minerality, which make for a long pleasant finish that lingers after the wine has made its way past the thirsty throat. With all of this going for it, it is easy to see why James Suckling, Australia’s most acclaimed wine critic, awarded the 2015 Nugan Estate Frasca’s Lane Chardonnay 91 points. Enjoy this single vineyard Chardonnay moderately chilled (40°-45° F) now through 2019.
Nugan Estate’s 2015 Frasca’s Lane Chardonnay provides the perfect foil to poultry, seafood, and plain old-fashioned enjoyment. Ardent Chardonnay lovers will revel in this wine’s rich fruit, extroverted personality and refreshing minerality, and many will opt to enjoy this well-made single vineyard Chardonnay with only a fine thin glass as an accompaniment. All well and good, but why not add to the experience and pair Nugan’s flagship white wine with grilled Rainbow trout encrusted with cornmeal and served with a light remoulade and braised greens? Grilled salmon salad with a honey-balsamic reduction, strawberry peppercorn relish, and almonds offers good companionship, too. Shrimp and grits prepared with a mild chili glaze and creamy Brie grits provides yet another tasty pairing with the 2015 Nugan Estate Frasca’s Lane Chardonnay, but then again most seafood, poultry and light pasta dishes will be enhanced in the presence of the 2015 Nugan Estate Frasca’s Lane Chardonnay, so no need to do anything but enjoy!
Nugan Estate is a third generation family owned and run winery. It began as a humble fruit and vegetable business in 1940 under the guidance of the estate’s founder Alfredo Nugan, who had recently emigrated from Spain. Alfredo Nugan, however, had a clear vision for his family in Australia and quickly gained success and a reputation for outstanding quality, service, and innovation – qualities he passed along to his son Ken, Ken’s wife Michelle, and his grandchildren Mathew and Tiffany who now run the estate. With the next generation and Australia’s burgeoning wine industry, the leap from quality produce to fine wine was a natural one, which turns out to be the same path trodden by many of California’s leading wineries, many of which began their ascent with fruits and vegetables.
Today, Nugan estate is the 18th and largest vineyard holder in Australia with more than 2,500 acres of vines and it remains entirely family owned – a rarity in Australia where large corporations dominate the wine industry. Although Nugan owns a significant amount of vineyards, only a small fraction of the estate’s grapes find their way into the Nugan Estate wine portfolio, including wines such as Nugan’s Frasca’s Lane Vineyard Chardonnay from King Valley in Victoria (this month’s feature).
In addition to the highly acclaimed Frasca’s Lane Chardonnay, Nugan fashions exceptional Shiraz from various vineyards in McLaren Vale, South Australia and Riverina, New South Wales. The estate’s Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz, named for Nugan’s founder, is one Australia’s iconic wines. It is a very limited release that is made much like Amarone, one of Italy’s most illustrious wines, which requires the harvesting of select grapes that are then dried on specialized racks to concentrate their flavor and intensity. The dried grapes are then pressed, fermented, and finally allowed to mature in American and French oak barrels for 12 months. The result is a very labor intensive, handcrafted wine of both power and grace.
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