2021 Giant Steps Clay Ferment Ocarina Chardonnay
From 4 Giant Steps vineyards, fermented in matured in 675L clay eggs produced in Byron Bay. Whole-bunch pressed, wild ferment and kept in clay for 6 months. No filtration and bottled by gravity. A very bright green gold. Aromas of almond meal, freshly grated ginger and white flowers. A little match stick, too. An intriguing palate, which is dry, grippy, even and long. A bit closed, this would be a great food wine and it will be fascinating to see how this evolves and changes over the next few years. Drink by 2028.
Philip Rich - James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion (February 2022)
The 2021 Clay Ferment Chardonnay is a wine that's made in small quantities—and perhaps difficult to get outside of Australia—however, it's an interesting proposition and one that goes some way toward revealing the importance of "subregional" DNA. There is one clay egg of each of the single vineyards, where the wine was vinified separately and then blended together prior to bottling. The eggs behave like oak barrels in terms of their micro-porosity and fermentation kinetics, however they leave no flavor artifact, making it a perfect vessel to understand the individual vineyard sites. This is slightly cloudy in the glass, with low sulfur at bottling, and via the unfined nature, it retains all the good phenolic texture and grip that can make Chardonnay so excellent. This has really good persistence of flavor in the mouth: power from Sexton, green olive and caper brine from Tarraford, savory white miso/from Applejack and pork crackling from Wombat Creek. This all alongside the white orchard fruit, of course. This is a fascinating wine that will titillate the purists to no end.
An interesting side note: The clay eggs are handmade in coastal New South Wales. They're very delicate, so much so that the team brings them to temperature with filtered water prior to filling, so that when they're "loaded up" they don't go into thermal shock and crack. They really are handled like eggs. Drink 2022 - 2029.
Erin Larkin - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (June 2022)