Skip to main content


Gary Walsh - The Wine Font

2022 Chardonnay - Vintage 2022 combined good yields with high quality, which must be something of a relief given the vicissitudes of recent seasons. Who'd be a farmewr eh?

A little stuck match and funk, pink grapefruit and pear, spicy oak, some ginger, floral perfume sitting quietly behind that, waiting to unfurl. Intense, fine flinty texture and chalky grip, it's restrained, but the power through the palate, and the length is quite something. Sappy and alive. Here's a Chardonnay of quiet power and finesse.

It's benchmark stuff - 97 Points"

Gary Walsh - The Winefront

2022 Chardonnay - "Exceptional style and class through and through...A thrilling ride awaits with a deep dive into arresting aromas filled with white flowers, stone fruits, Meyer lemon, nougat, almond meal and spice. Floats dreamily on the plate, fine in texture, resonating in fruit and well-judged oak, creamy in texture, bright in energy and acidity - 96 Points"

Jeni Port - Halliday

2022 Pinot Noir - "From a long cool vintage, and Keppell Smith says 'There's bugger all of it'. The wine will be labelled 'Reserve' only when the year is good enought...
Aromatic, spicy, lots of savoury complexity here and autumnal character aplenty, pencil/cedar oak, flickers of liquorice root emerge with air. Mix of red cherry and red fruits, an earthy leaf litter character, light, fresh, gently sappy, tannins are subtle and buried in the wine, some blood orange in the mix. Excellent length. Such character. I'd say it's the best Pinot Noir they've released to date. Rated : 96 Points"

Gary Walsh - The Winefront

2022 Sagrantino - "An absolute cracker of a wine. The name rolls smoothly off the tongue - sagrantino - followed by the kind of astonishing, complex flavours that will make you wonder, 'Where has this grape been all my life?' Black cherry, bramble, cured meats, bracken, wet earth and undergrowth mix with thyme, sage and tomato leaf. The role of the whole bunches is noted as an agent for amplifying intensity of flavour and length. The grape's tannins can't be denied. There is structure to burn here, a good sign for longevity. That's a wow! Rated 96 Points"

Jeni Port - Halliday

2022 Chardonnay - "Damn this is reductive, demanding an aggressive decant, or an eagle eye in the cellar and plenty of patience. Yet the material lurking behind this flinty, terse carapace is thoroughly impressive: pithy stone fruits, anise, glazed quince and citrus marmalade. Thrilling levels of sheer extract, intensity and length, to boot. Trust me. WAIT! Drinkable now, but best from 2027 - 96 Points"

Ned Goodwin MW -

2022 Frere Cadet Chardonnay - "Sourced from a vineyard next to Giaconda, a higher cropping site, conventional farmed, says Keppel Smith. A little struck match, grapefruit, stonefruit, and oatmeal richness, fine spicy oak, Japanese ginger. Juicy but tight, has somecreamy gloss and richness, but acidity gives it grapefruity tang and freshness,finishes quite long and spicy. A really good glass of Chardonnay here.  Satisfying. Pleasurable. Excellent - Rated 94 Points”

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Chardonnay - " 'I don't even know what the ... clones are', says winemaker Keppell Smith. Cavin oak, which he imports, of which 30% is new. 2021 was a cool marginal year for this vineyard, he says, but the results are excellent, I say.
Ripe grapefruit, preserved lemon with ginger and biscuit spices, a light amount of fennel. Lovely perfume to the wine. Bright and fresh, a gentle creamy almond gloss, light flintiness and matchstick, tight core of acidirity, white nectarines, and some richer yellow fruit, but really pretty restrained. It flows along beautifully. It's a great glass of Chardonnay.
Rated 96 Points

Gary Walsh, Winefront

2015 Shiraz - "Aged for two years in French oak. Bewitchingly good nose - all the fruit of Shiraz plus rich stemmy verdancy. There's a desiccated note to the fruit, but no lack of freshness. Long, sophisticated fruit with coca and smoke and mocha notes on the length. Acid keeps the aftertaste crisp. Sits alongside the Aussie greats for me. - 18 / 20

Richard Hemming MW -

2019 Pinot Noir - "This is such a delightful mouthful of red wine. Silky but pillowy, supple and flowing, sweet fruited but with strong autumnal, garrigue and undergrowth characters lending interest and personality. It leads with dried leaves, dried herbs, mushrooms, black cherry and yet there's flinty mineral notes, faint eucalyyptus and cloves in there too. The palate follows on from the bouquet nicely, savoury, wide bore and with softness and finesse to tanin building into a convincing, brambly pucker. It's a super expression. Rated : 95 Points "

Mike Bennie, Winefront

2017 Shiraz - "Knee-weakeningly gorgeous nose. All the perfume and expression of their 2014 but with much greater primary fruit and intensity. Fleshy, opulent, extravagant and outstanding quality. Ghostly persistence - never quite disappears. A proper work of Shiraz art -
19.5 / 20

Richard Hemming MW -

2019 Shiraz - Soft, supple and with suprisingly wide gauge. It's a very savoury expression but feels comfortable with its lazy spread, the softness of texture (yet finishes chalky and pleasingly bitter-dry), dark fruit meshed with truffle. Aussie bush characters and old spice cupboard feel to seasoning. The more you sip, the more the grip builds. It's an intriguing, individual and compelling wine, more akin to old school pinot noir perhaps, maybe a gentle, mature Barolo but lighter and finer?! Anyways, it's a pleasure. - 94 Points

Mike Bennie, Winefront

2019 Chardonnay - "Possibly the finest Chardonnay in the country, crafted with minimal impact: ambient yeast, judicious oak and confident ripeness of fruit. A thrust of nashi pear and stone fruit flavours meld with nougatine and truffle, staining the mouth with a compelling parry of mineral and juicy acidity. A wine of stridency and force."

Ned Goodwin, Hill of Grace Dinner

2018 Pinot Noir - "Matured 18 months in Burgubdian oak (25-30% new). Take a deep breath, inhale; the scent of mountain wildflowers, violet, crushed raspberry and cherry is entrhalling, addictive even. Intense and tight on the palate, it opens to layers of clean, bright red and black fruits, enhanced by savoury spice, warm background oak and ripe, textural tannins. A savoury, ferrous and mineral finish offers yet another layer on this most complex pinot. Outstanding."
Rated : 97 Points "

Jeni Port, Halliday

2019 Chardonnay - "Hand-picked fruit, crushed to Burgundian oak for wild ferment, mlf and 18 months maturation. Unfiltered. Close planted (8000 vines/ha) and organically farmed, the Savaterre vineyard produces sublime chardonnays of depth and concentration.

Here's a wine to get easily lost in, with its distinctive mineral intensity and aromas of nectarine, peach skin, preserved lemon, grapefruit and cashew. Brimming with ripe fruit, freshness, focused acidity and a creamy lusciousness. Boasts a lovely elegance that never tires."

Rated : 95 Points "

Jeni Port, Halliday

2019 Chardonnay - "Winemaker Keppell Smith is at the helm of Savaterre, an outstanding boutique winery located in Beechworth, northern Victoria. The region is renowned for premium wines, with Savaterre at the apex of these producers. The fruit is farmed organically, the wines made with no additives aside a small amount of sulphur. The resulting whites and reds are recognised as cult wines of exceptional pedigree that drink superbly in youth yet mature gracefully in cellars.

This wine shows richness and freshness hand in hand. It opens with scents of nougat, green apple, fresh-cut nectarine and a squeeze of lime. Flavours are similar, generous yet tempered with coolness and bright acidity. It’s long, smooth, supple and utterly delicious. It will be superb with your best roast chicken with trimmings.

Mike Bennie, Winefront

2019 Chardonnay - "Light to mid-yellow colour, bright, with a complex, nutty, toasty, gentle smoky bouquet that leads into a richly layered, full-bodied palate that tracks the bouquet closely. Oak and lees characters play a leading role but aren't overdone. Delicious buttery richness on the palate, the fruit-sweetness splicing with savoury elements and leading into a tremendously long, satisfying finish that's beautifully balanced and appetising. A glorious chardonnay.
Rated : 97 Points "

Huon Hooke

2019 Chardonnay - "Powerful, concentrated and displaying soaring complexity, with precise clusters of berries, white butterscotch, gingerbread crumbs, glossy ripe peaches and red apples. Long, effortless and with a sensuous finish.
Rated : 97 Points "

Decanter World Wine Awards 2021

2017 Pinot Noir - "While many have opted for other cultivars over pinot noir in Beechworth of late, Keppell Smith persists. And for the better! For even as it gets warmer on those sub-alpine granitic slopes, there is something febrile about the pinot at this address, accentuated by a minimal hand in the winery: natural yeast, fining and filtration eschewed and sulphur-dioxide levels psychologically reassuring, little more. A sandalwood forest floor scent greets the first whiff. Candied orange rind, root beer and tumeric to clove, alluding to whole-cluster in the mix. Woodsy red berry scents, too, but the lead solo is the texture: spindly tannins, expansive and moreish. Akin to nebbiolo. Then the key riff of volatility conferring zest and lift, sensitively appointed to the style at hand.
Rated : 94 Points "

Ned Goodwin, Halliday

2019 Chardonnay
- "I like this...Slight flinty smoky sulphide top note, McVitie's digestive biscuit, or oatmeal, looking sideways at tropical fruit, ripe lime and flowers, spice and preserved lemon. Tight, intense, chalky grip, lime and honey, flinty and stony, mouth-watering acidity, long and juicy, and slightly toasty and clove-spiced to close. Magic. Flavour and texture
Rated : 96 Points "

Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

2018 Chardonnay - "THIS, FOR ME, EQUAL TO A BÂTARD"

Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

2018 Chardonnay - "It’s good to see that Keppell Smith has finally got with the program, and sent his wine to The Chardonnay Master™ for review. Thanks Keppell, you crazily named man, you. It’s tight and structured, but has generosity of flavour and sizzled hazelnut butter warmth, allied to juicy lime and stonefruit flavours. Peppermint and white flowers. Struck match, a coolness of mint and fennel, cashew, flinty texture, and a very long and powerful finish, and I’m thinking grilled lime, cinnamon spice and fresh herbs. It’s a stellar release, as far as I’m concerned.
Rated : 97 Points "
- Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

Beechworth Chardonnay - "In Covid-repose, I've been enjoying Savaterre - which is among the finest of Australian chardonnay. The 2017 is the best yet and draws on sub-alpine diurnal shifts and ample acidity, accentuated by the Beechworth region's granite soils. Mid-weighted, pungently mineral and brimming with stone-fruit scents flecked with nougat, it is deserved of at least five-years in the cellar. Better, eight."

Ned Goodwin MW,  Halliday's Wine Companion 2020

2017 Chardonnay - "Hand-harvested fruit across a tightly planted vineyard in Beechworth serves a sleek chassis, driven by thirst-slaking acid cylinders and a body toned by peach, nectarine, apricot and the finest French oak. This mid-weighted beauty has settled into a finely tuned groove of tension and generosity. Nougatine and creamy cashew at its core, conferring warmth. Layered, impeccably integrated and searingly long, this is very fine...Rating 97 Points."

Ned Goodwin MW,  Halliday

2017 Chardonnay - "Stonefruit, lemon peel, fennel, white flowers, nougat and some struck match. It’s flavoursome, a little toasty and spicy, intense almost grapefruity acidity along with a caramel richness, distinct chalky/quartz-like texture, pulp and pith citrus bitterness on a very long finish. A very good Chardonnay here. Very. Rated: 95 Points."

Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

2017 Frère Cadet Chardonnay -“This is winemaker Keppell Smith's negotiant bottling, hewn from purchased grapes with an artisanal approach akin to that to his flagship cuvee: a spontaneous ferment of hand-picked grapes embellished with high quality French oak (18 months). The result is creamy and mouth filling; mid-weighted and as reliant on ripe stone fruit allusions as it is on a leesy detail, mineral and pungent; and subalpine acidity and fresh; for pulse, pull and sappt length...Rated: 94 Points"

Jancis Robinson, Beechworth Chardonnay Tasting -

2015 Chardonnay - "Water white. Sharp, high-toned nose. Obviously very ripe fruit but handled very gently. One of the more Burgundian wines in this collection. Its bright fruit reminds me of François Carillon of Puligny. Very complete and well balanced. Really satisfying already. Long. Really very smart stuff. "

Ned Goodwin MW, Beechworth Chardonnay Tasting - Halliday's Wine Companion

2016 Chardonnay - "The aim of the exercise was not only to assess Beechworth chardonnay as a paragon of exceptional quality – already an established archetype, furthered by the praise of commentators such as Jancis Robinson MW – but also to pit the best examples against superlative wines from other premium chardonnay regions. Those on show included wines from Margaret River, Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley, and the inevitable benchmark of Burgundy. The hope was that the Beechworth wines would exhibit a strong regional commonality.

While there were outstanding wines from Sentio, Domenica, Piano Piano, Giaconda and Sorrenberg – all from the warm and for many challenging 2016 vintage – my favourite was from Savaterre. The vintage’s heat may have explained the volatility leading off the nose, however, the generous palate billowed across multitudinous layers of stone fruit, tangerine, kumquat, toasted nuts and creamed kernel, unfolding across an exceptionally long finish – a brilliant wine and only just overshadowed by an outsider, Domaine Dujac Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres".

Andrew Giblin, Bacchus - Top 5 Picks

2016 Chardonnay - "An absolute delight. Complex, powerful, sophisticated and precise. Keppell Smith shows us why he is, in my opinion, one of Australia's leading winemakers with this beauty. "

Toni Patterson MW, Chardonnay 2015 - The Real Review

2015 Chardonnay - "This is, without a doubt, a compelling wine. It has a beguiling richness, and although there are notes of pineapple and nougat, there is also underlying grapefruit and lemon. The way these two opposing elements are entwined is nothing short of impressive. There is a seamless integration of the elements. Though I must stress, it is not an overly fruity wine. In fact, its presentation is decidedly savoury with inherent oatmeal characters. And then there is the acidity, which is more like a supporting basket than a core. And the texture? Perfect. It is a serious wine for purposeful drinking. It needs chilling, but not too much. Decanting? Most definitely. Time for quiet appreciation? A must. Rated : 95 Points ★★★★★ "

Toni Patterson MW, Le Bon Vivant Rose - The Real Review

2015 Rose - "There is a lot to like in this slippery, textural dry rosé. I adore the restrained aromatics of strawberries and cranberries and the savoury undercurrent of pastry and cream. The acidity is woven into the frame work of the wine. A complete package. Stylish and highly satisfying. Rated : 93 Points  "

Campbell Mattinson, Frère Cadet Chardonnay - The Wine Front, Nov 2016

2015 Chardonnay - "The younger (and delicious) brother of Savaterre’s estate chardonnay. This is incredibly more-ish. It sits right in the sweet spot between out-and-out sophistication and pure juicy drinkability. It’s flashed with toast and honeysuckle and almonds but the mainstay flavours are more in the stonefruit, fennel and pear realms. It feels, tastes and finishes in beautiful fashion. Rated : 92 Points "

Mike Bennie, Chardonnay 2014 - The Wine Front, Oct 2016

2014 Chardonnay - "Great release here. Potent scents of sandalwood, stone fruit, green apples, wet ferns. Palate is silky, oak slips into soft fruit character and acidity sits glossy underneath. It’s got that feel of supreme elegance and balance. Decadence yet refreshment. Opulence yet control. The quibble will be how much oak you like in chardonnay, and it’s a distinct, lavish feature, but there’s fruit power to back it up. Decanting and cellaring will reward. Rated : 94+ Points"

Campbell Mattinson, Bon Vivant Rose - The Wine Front, Nov 2016

2015 Rose - "New wine to the Savaterre range. It tastes of Savaterre. And of Beechworth. It’s light-ish in colour but it’s full of flavour. Red and black cherries, game, raisins, cranberries and spice. It puts on a show. It hits, it cuts, it drives. There’s no lack of texture either. Character, it has plenty. Rated : 91 Points"

Campbell Mattinson, Pinot Noir 2013 - The Wine Front, July 2015

2013 Pinot Noir - "Savaterre Pinot Noir and Savaterre Chardonnay have held equal quality billing over the years. I’ve never asked which one is the easier sell. Both have been stars over the past decade and a bit.

This is another excellent release. It’s slowly becoming less Italianate and, as a result, prettier. Less overt grunt, a little more sinew, and with florals and perfumed fruits lifting through the spice. Cherry-plum here, some cranberry, twigs and herbs, chicory. Woodsmoke. Deli meats. It’s all going on here. I looked at this over the course of two days; it kept getting better and better throughout. I suspect it will mature beautifully. Rated: 93+ Points

Campbell Mattinson, Shiraz 2013 - The Wine Front, July 2015

2013 Shiraz - "From the review of the inaugural 2012 release: “(The shiraz vines are) growing there now at 8000 vines per hectare on a handkerchief of paddock spotted by Tim Kirk, of Clonakilla fame, who was visiting Savaterre back then to see the chardonnay and pinot noir vineyard, for which the estate is renowned. As Savaterre’s Keppell Smith now tells it, Kirk looked out at the dry yonder and pointed at a patch of flowing grass and the dire straits of dust. Kirk found the sun and stepped out of the shade and said something like, You and shiraz, babe, how about it?” I am of course taking licence. Kirk may have even muttered the words “potentially one of the best shiraz sites in Australia”. It’s neither here nor there.” 

The first release established Savaterre Shiraz as one to watch; this continues that strong impression. It’s wildly complex and yet pure and well polished. Dark 
cherried, slightly charry, smoky bacon notes woven through cloves and earth. It crackles with spice, oozes warm fruit and screws tannin through much of the back palate. It’s at the start of a longish life. Alive with concentrated fruit, sturdy with tannin but essentially pretty. Needless to say, there’s a lot to recommend it. Rated: 94 Points"

Australian Wine Companion, Pinot Noir 2012

2012 Pinot Noir - "Beechworth isn't the easiest place to grow pinot but the gods were especially kind this season. This is a beautiful wine. It unfurls as you drink it. Keen, smoky oak. Dark, meaty, (black) - cherried fruit. And stalky notes of dried herbs and ash. It's tangy, lively, lengthy wine with its array of flavours fluttering out through the finish. Screwcap. 13.5% alc. Rating: 96 To 2022"

Australian Wine Companion, Chardonnay 2012

2012 Chardonnay - "Largely unevolved but the wine's power and length says it all. Grapefruit, almond, tingling citrussy acidity. Not flashy with oak, but not shy of it either. Needs time to develop. Lengthy but not slim; there's impressive weight and flavour here. Screwcap. 13.5% alc. Rating: 94 To 2023"

Australian Wine Companion, Shiraz 2012

2012 Shiraz - "First release but from vines nearing their 10th year. It's a smoky, plush wine with meat and black cherry flavours to the fore. Oak and fruit aren't entirely integrated now but the signs are promising. Ripples of dry, twisting tannins. Excellent length. Screwcap. 13.5% alc. Rating: 94 To 2022"

Campbell Mattinson, Shiraz 2012 - The Wine Front, Dec 2013

2012 Shiraz - "100% stalk. 100% shiraz – “there’s no weed in this”. Stinky, smoky, stalky, plush with fruit and oak, lengthy. Complex but not at the expense of immediate deliciousness. Has a sinewy character to the tannin but it wraps like a genome through the wine, twisting both flavour and dry control as it motors through. It’s a remarkable shiraz. Meaty, smoky and dry but with plenty of dark, berried flesh. As the kids now say: boom. Rated: 94+ Points"

Campbell Mattinson, Pinot Noir 2012 - The Wine Front, 05 Dec 2013

2012 Pinot Noir - "To my personal tastes – as opposed to straight scoring – this is the best Savaterre Pinot Noir yet released. It has power and length but more delicacy – let’s call it prettiness – than previous releases. It’s made with 85 percent whole bunches. This will be released in February 2014. Put this wine in your mouth and watch the tail unfurl. The vintage, a change of oak cooper, the age of the vineyard, earlier picking, adjustment to the viticulture – not sure exactly how this has stepped into the next echelon but it has. Its maker and grower, Keppell Smith, says “it’s just Keppell getting a bit smarter”. Line of acid and tannin is superb. It’s an exceptional wine. Dark, meaty, ashen, smoky, has some fruit grunt but it’s fresh and tangy and lively. If you have any doubts over Beechworth’s ability to make outstanding pinot noir on occasion, then try this, and watch the vapour of doubt float out the window. Rated: 95 Points."

Campbell Mattinson, Chardonnay 2012 - The Wine Front, 05 Dec 2013

2012 Chardonnay - "Shiraz and pinot noir are the stars of the 2012 Savaterre vintage but it was chardonnay, of course, that started the buzz over this estate. This 2012 rendition, to be released in February 2014, has it all up its sleeves. 

In five year’s
time this will drink superbly. For now, it’s all about reserve. Or coiled power, as the cliche goes. Aroma needs time to develop but it will. It has mid palate richness but it’s really only just started to clear its throat when it finishes. Give it time. Tingling acidity. Great that it’s under screwcap. The longer I sat with it the more it stretched its legs out and flashed some flesh. Just a hole in the stocking for now; a la The Piano. Each year, a new chord. All will be revealed in time. But power, this has aplenty. Rated : 94+"

Jenni Port, Best Chardonnay 2012 - Epicure, The Age 11 Dec 2012

2009 Chardonnay - "As chardonnay claws its way back into our hearts, it's returning rejuvenated, almost reborn. It's not oak we consumers prize like we used to, it's structure. This is where Beechworth enters the picture. The place sits on 415 million-year-old granite and shaly slate, translating into minerality in its wines and in turn, structure and longevity. Savaterre is headed by Keppell Smith, a passionate man making passionate, lion-hearted chardonnays. The 2009 chardonnay is an intricate mosaic of a wine, just another reason why Beechworth has to be the new go-to region for the grape."

Mike Bennie, The Wine Front September 2012

2010 Chardonnay - "Tangy acidity and nutty, crisp fruit drives the wine – it’s tense and nervous, but shows a build of power across the palate. There’s lots of detail here, isn’t shy of wood, but fruit stands proud against the woodwork frame and the wine looks to be a belter for cellaring time too. Complex in spice, granite-like minerality and white, crunchy stone fruits, this is a wine of airy, heady sophistication eschewing current vogue for anorexia and temporal raciness, showing flex and strength of flavour instead – but by no means losing tension. Yes, yes. 94 points"

Patrick White, Gourmet Traveller Wine Jun / Jul 2012

2010 Chardonnay - "The 2010 Savaterre Chardonnay like the Giaconda chardonnay, exhibits the linear acidity and river pebble minerality bestowed by the vineyard's mean soils and cooler aspect. The beautifully pure and taut fruit gives the wine the backbone to carry the judiciously applied layers of winemaking funk that makes it such a compelling and highly complex glassful. Notes of cordite, gunflint, grilled nuts, bath salts and some graprefruit pith unfold endlessly on the mealy and powerful palate. Little wonder it has come to enjoy such high esteem among aficionados in so short a period of time. This is benchmark stuff"

Mike Bennie, The Wine Front November 2012

2010 Pinot Noir - "Structure. First up. The feel of a wine that’s raring to go, but will look better with some time. It’s a layered, crunchy, shy wine with vibrant fruit tempered by judicious chalky phenolic grip and that the wringing tightness as fruit wrestles with firm acidity. Aromas are wild, free and inviting though – stacks of concentrated red cherry, amaro herbs and sweet earth. Very fine through the palate; a sheet of flavour and texture that finishes long and strong. Stalks show as twiggy, nutmeg-like flavours and glassiness in underlying texture. It’s not for the hedonist now, but patience should reward for all that’s going on in this wine. Very good wine... 94+ points."

Huon Hooke, Gourmet Traveller Wine "100 Top New Releases " Aug / Sep 2012

2009 Chardonnay - "The best Savaterre Chardonnay I've tasted. Mid-yellow with a richly complex nose showing a good balance between fruit and artifact. Bready lees, nutty barrel interaction, stone-fruit flavours of richness, concentration and just the right amount of fruit sweetness...95/100"

Adam Hicks, Dan Murphys Wine Panel

2009 Chardonnay - "Grilled cashews, citrus, grapefruit and oatmeal in a beautifully balanced, complex, concentrated wine with endless length. This is the sort of world-class modern Australian chardonnay that will convert even the most determined cynic."

Angus Hughson, Qantas - The Australian Way Magazine, February 2011

2008 Pinot Noir - "Beechworth is a very special place and Keppell Smith's pinot noir is a standout wine. Always a muscular style, which gives these wines excellent ageing complexity, the 2008 vintage is complemented by beautiful perfumed nuances that will build further with time in the bottle. Best in five to 10 years."

Ken Gargett, Cellar Notes - Courier Mail, 14 August 2010

"Grilled nuts, citrus, grapefruit and oatmeal in a complex, beautifully balanced, concentrated wine with great length. Superb example of the region's chardonnay. 96[/100]"

Gourmet Traveller Wine "Quality Shines" June 2010

2008 Chardonnay - "Tough country has a tendency to turn out top wines, but the road to growing them is not easy. Savaterre in Beechworth - across the road from Giaconda's home vineyard - had tough or disastrous seasons in 2003 and 2007 but the in-between years have produced stellar wines."

The 2008 year was by no means easy either, with weeks of sorching weather, but the 2008 Savaterre Chardonnay has risen beautifully to the challenge. It's up with the best white wines this estate has produced...

The first thing I notice about the 2008 Savaterre chardonnay - other than the quality - is the balance between oak and fruit flavour. Savaterre chardonnay spends two years in French oak and in the past, there's been no mistaking it. The oak has tasted delicious, but is impact has been obvious. I asked Savaterre's winemaker and owner Keppell Smith whether this 2008 was aged in a lower proportion of new oak barrels. He replied, "No, but the fruit's better." It's a positive for the wine.

Pour a glass and it tastes of grapefruit, oatmeal and almonds; its inherent richness trimmed down to a piercing, persistent finish. It shows a smidge of alcohol heat, but the power carries it. It will taste even better in another year or two. This is a luxury wine at a luxury price - and it lives up to the billing"

John Lethlean, twitter - JohnandNecia, 19 May 2010

"If food/wine heaven exists, it just may be David Moyle's tuna sashimi with crab "dressing" , whipped eggplant and an 05 Savaterre Chardonnay."

The Wine Front - Campbell Mattinson, Edition: March 2010

2008 Chardonnay - "In a welcome departure, Savaterre is now bottling some of its chardonnay under screwcap - about a third went under screwcap for this 2008, the rest under cork. I’ve tasted both versions twice over the past couple of weeks, and both times the cork- and screwcap-sealed wines have tasted like two different wines – the cork-sealed wine is richer, fuller, sexier as a young wine; the screwcap-sealed is more mineral, leaner, its gentle reductive tones working as a positive. Generousity versus reserve. 

This review of the 2008 Savaterre Chardonnay is from the screwcap-sealed bottle.

Fresh as a crisp, summer’s morning. It needs time to breathe, but once it’s opened up it’s full of almond and meal and grapefruit flavours. Love the length. Love those exotic almond tones. Gorgeous, piercing length. Tremendous chardonnay, no doubting it. Both rich and trim at once. Satiny texture, without it being syrupy or excessively oaked. Straw notes. This is up there with the best Savaterre has produced. Rated 95 points."

2008 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "Savaterre pinot noir is most commonly a muscular, tannic wine in need of bottle age to show its best. This release is in that mould, though it’s got a couple of extra tricks up its sleeve this time around.

What impresses me most about this release is the wine’s fragrance. It leaps from the glass with a tremendous perfumed complexity. Far more perfumed than previous releases of Savaterre pinot noir. Stalks, chicory, woodsmoke, cedar and dark. Brooding cherries. Flavours follow suit, with the wine’s acid siting hand-in-glove. Impressive. Gravelly tannin strikes from the mid-palate onwards. Grunt and perfume, with sexy cedary oak completing the performance. Keep it for a year, and then drink it over the following three. Rated: 94 points."

Andrew Caillard MW,, July 2009

"The old gold‐mining region of Beechworth in North East Victoria is fascinating. The atmosphere rather than the landscape reminds me of Margaret River in the old days. It has people of real character. Keppel Smith's Savaterre Chardonnay, with its al dente structure and creamy fruit, is highly individual.


Andrew Jefford,, March 5 2009

2005 Chardonnay - "The week ended with pale golden wine tasted on a cold, damp night up on the Hills...of 20 of Australia’s top Chardonnays, mostly attended by local winemakers. My top-scoring wines (17 out of 20 or above) were Penfold’s 2005 Bin A (Adelaide Hills), Savaterre 2005 (Beechworth), Toolangi Reserve 2006 (Yarra) and Kooyong 2006 Faultline (Mornington Peninsula), just ahead of 2005 Yattarna (Adelaide Hills) and 2005 Giaconda (Beechworth)...Australian Chardonnay at the highest levels is now subtle and multi-faceted."

Matthew Jukes,, September 2008

Savaterre named among the "Australian Estates of Excellence

LINK FOR FULL ARTICLE - Decanter 2008 Australian Wine, Absolute Quality

Jane Faulkner, The Age - May 31 2008

2006 Chardonnay - "A hard act to follow with the '05 so tight and outstanding but while this seems more forward, there's a lot going on in the glass from the plump stone fruit notes to the creaminess mid-palate. It's opulent but not heavy with the nutty, leesy notes adding to its exceptional length."

2006 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "Tight and closed as you'd expect from a young pinot but with a decent decant, it opens up superbly to reveal enticing cherry, savoury nuances to an alluring sage-herbal character. Tangy fruit on the palate with a moreish slightly bitter note that sits alongside smooth, ripe tannins, terrific acidity and a lingering finish. A wine that makes you think."

Winefront Monthly Campbell Mattinson, Edition: May 2008

2006 Chardonnay - "This is another beautiful release from Savaterre. It manages to be delicate and balanced at once and while there are tropical highlights it tastes of quality walnuts, grapefruit, white flowers and peach. Lovely texture and acidity - it's a wine that simply feels magnificent on your tongue. Is it a touch more forward than I've come to expect of a young Savaterre chardonnay? Possibly. Or perhaps it's just so gorgeously harmonious that it feels as ready to rip now as it will be suited to the cellar. For mine, I would drink this now and over the next four or five years - and I would expect to be wooed. Drink: 2008-2013. 94 points."

2006 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "I drank a bottle of this with lunch last week and another bottle at dinner at home a few days later, and I'm still stunned by its quality. This takes seriousness in Australian pinot noir to a new level. When you first open it it's rigidly tight, deep, focussed and intense, its flavours a mix of dark cherries, sap, walnuts and cedar. Given time an intense aroma and flavour of dark, ruby rose petals comes forward, though it's offset by a deliciously sophisticated sting of bitterness through the (long) finish. If you have any intention of drinking this in the next couple of years, then you need to decant it for at least an hour or two. What this wine really needs is seven to ten years in a cool cellar - after which it should be magnificent. Big on structure, and big on class. Drink: 2014-2021. 96 points."

Top 20 of 2007 Philip Rich, AFR Magazine: November 2007

2005 Chardonnay - "...Savaterre - right opposite Giaconda and also planted on a south-facing slope - has joined the ranks of the very best chardonnay producers in Australia. Oxidative juice handling; a natural yeast fermentation in 50 per cent new French oak; 100 per cent malolactic fermentation and a long time on lees has resulted in an extremely refined and minerally wine with aromas of fresh pear, melon and fig, cashews and some complex mineral notes. The palate is restrained yet persistent with excellent structure, meaning this wine should continue to improve for at least another five years or possibly longer."

Winefront Monthly - Campbell Mattinson, Edition: March 2007

2005 Chardonnay - "I've been lucky enough to come across a few bottle of Savaterre chardonnay from the 2001, 2002 and 2004 vintages recently and while the 2004 is still closed, tight, and preparing itself for a long and beautiful future, both the 2001 and 2002 are drinking extremely well, especially given a couple of hours to open up, and not too much chilling. That being the case, it's fair to judge that this 2005 vintage wine will be spectacular in six or seven year's time - it's inordinately powerful and yet immensely reserved, its heart of grapefruit, minerals, chalk, white flowers, fresh almonds and pears kept well away from its sleeve. I have been looking at this wine for a tick over 24 hours now, and it's just starting to show the extreme class of its finish - this is a very lengthy wine, and one of supreme quality. Best of all, it tastes like a Savaterre - at the top of its game. Drink: 2010-2017. 96 points."

2005 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "I'm in love with this wine. I've been obsessing over it for the past 24 hours, and to be honest it's been pretty damn amazing from about an hour after it was opened onwards. It's almost an Italianate expression of pinot noir - which is another way of saying that it is 100% varietal, but that it also lives inside its own skin. It's not at all sweet, it's quite bitter and daring on the finish, and indeed it has a sense of dry chocolate there even as a line of minerals crackles through the taut, dry frame of tannin. It's a very tight, ripe, savoury, stalky - and given lots of time to open up - kaleidoscopic wine. A few weeks ago I enjoyed a 2002 Savaterre pinot noir, and the good news is that it's just - just - starting to introduce some secondary characters, and looks like it will start hitting a long peak in about three or four years. This 2005 wine will follow a similar trajectory - and then some. It is top class. Drink: 2012-2019. 95 points."

Huon Hooke - Good Living, The Sydney Morning Hearld, January 9, 2007

"Some of the most inspiring new wines I tasted last year came from Savaterre..."

Winefront Monthly - Campbell Mattinson, Edition: March 2006

2004 Chardonnay - "The best vintages are the ones that grow slowly in barrel, and that's what this wine has done. I was always confident that Savaterre's 2004 pinot would be outstanding, but for a while this vintage of the chardonnay - and I probably tasted it three times out of barrel - looked better than the 2003 but not by a great margin. Now that it's ship-shape and ready to go, the story is different. There's a special something here. It's not just about the fruit power. It's the crisp clean white flowers, the scent of hazelnuts, the puff of nectarines and pears. It's a very restrained wine. A very beautiful wine. And it finishes with lovely, elegant, sure length. This is as good as the 2002 chardonnay release, and possibly a whisper better. Drink: 2007-2013. 96 points."

2004 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "You have to have a bit of faith here. It's a majestic wine of statuesque proportions, though I guess if you're going to say that about a pinot noir then you have to quickly add that it's nothing like a dry red: this is definitely a pinot noir. It's dark and brooding and intense, with thick black cherry churning and pulling deep into the back palate, the daring, dry, lengthy tannins drawing edgy undergowth-like characters along for the ride. This is a seriously structured, powerful pinot noir, made to brood long before it boasts. Sit it in the glass and watch, given time, the dance of fragrance slowly emerge - it's time will come. From the first time I tasted it in barrel its structure has been superb. It still is. Drink: 2009-2015. 94 points."

2004 "Les Enfants" Pinot - "Savaterre has a history of holding its vines back until they're ready - the vines that made this wine were five years old in 2004 and yet still their grapes hadn't yet made it under Savaterre - and this year they almost didn't either. The pinot in 2004 looked so good though that Keppell Smith decided he'd make a "pizza wine" off the young vine material, and for a while he just planned to sell it off as a restaurant-only label in exchange for some top tucker. Problem was, the wine kept looking better and better in barrel. He'd used 100% stalks in the ferment but you'd never suspect it and with time it built delicious perfumes of red roses and plums and wood-smoke, the palate following precisely on. It's got lots of smoky, sappy, stalky tannin and a huge amount of interest, and while Keppell made it to drink young, I suspect that it's going to age a whole lot longer than he thinks. Drink: 2006-2011. 91 points."


Huon Hooke - Good Living, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 2, 2006

2004 Chardonnay - "Justifying all the purple prose about Savaterre, this is a wine of great complexity and elegance; the bouquet nuanced and multi-faceted, the palate concentrated, powerful, rich; the flavours in marvellous harmony. Save it for your favourite lobster dish. Drink for 3+ years. 96/100"

2004 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "Sappy, floral, sweet cherry, complex bouquet; deep, soft, layered palate, with stacks of flesh and fruit sweetness. Serve with duck confit. 4+ years. 93/100"

Gourmet Traveller Wine "Australia's premium pinot producers..." Issue Aug/Sep 2006

"This Beechworth producer has done everything right since it was established 10 years ago. The impeccable site is expertly managed and now produces gutsy pinot noir of form, line and length. Owner / winemaker Keppell Smith designs his wines to reveal themselves slowly, and the 2004 - the best yet - with all its brooding varietal power, seems certain to do just that."

Tyson Stelzer - "The Top 500 Wines 2005 - 2006"

2004 Chardonnay - "When I visited Keppell Smith, his 2004 wines were in tank, about to be bottled...Keppell describes 2004 as a kind vintage. "I'm really hoping that this might be my best ever, but it doesn't really turn to wine for me until it's at least three years old, so we'll just have to wait and see." Even before it's hit the bottle it's a very complex, spicy wine. Intense but elegant grapefruit, nectarine, lemon and melon fruit lingers amid fig flavours on an unbelievably long finish, perfectly balanced by cashew nut French oak and supported by fine acidity. 95 out of 100 points. (Excellent wine!) Best drinking around: 2006-201. Love it"

2004 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "Savaterre is perched atop one of the prettiest sites in central Victoria, with 360 degree views of the hills rolling into the distance. This same site is also responsible for one of the prettiest pinots in the district. Keppell Smith has backed off a little on the oak in his pinot this year, using some five-year-old barrels in the blend. The result is an elegant but firmly structure pinot noir with lifted strawberry and perfumed raspberry fruits underlaid by big, fine, long, savoury tannins. There is great potential in the cellar here. March/April 2006 release. 92 out of 100 points. (Very good wine.) Best drinking around: 2009-2014. This bottle was a tank sample. Love it!

Australian Sommelier magazine, March 2006

Savaterre's vineyard has been named in the top 25 vineyards in Australia

"On the charts with a bullet – this time next year, once the 2004 chardonnay in particular has been released, the rating could easily move even higher. This, it has to be said, is a spectacular vineyard with spectacular potential, and as the 2002 wines show, that potential is sheeting through with a clarity that is shattering. And it’s the vineyard that is doing it. The south-facing slope that fronts into the teeth of the Victorian Alps, the ancient rocky soils, the high altitude, the warm summers and the cold, cold nights. This is a dramatic landscape and the truth is that the wines are all about that: the vineyard was only planted in 1997, all chardonnay and pinot noir, but the near-cinematic quality of this site is already blindingly obvious. The potential of this place is limitless." Ranked 22 out of 25.

Winefront Monthly Campbell Mattinson, Edition: March 2005

"Simply, there's something about Savaterre. The great years boost it, the tough years prove it"

2003 Chardonnay - "Rattle the cage. Give it some air. Take a long look at it and see the aromas of rice paper rolls, pear, mineral and toast before a textured, layered, bitter, minerally-driven palate of extraordinary delicacy given the year...It doesn't taste like a freak-year wine; it tastes like a wine from the Savaterre vineyard; the best compliment. Drink 2006-2010. 93 points."

2003 Savaterre Pinot Noir - "Think on the conditions; this is a year that should have spelled disaster for pinot noir. That it didn't is the biggest indicator of the magic of this vineyard I have seen. It's got the mystery, the magic, the complexity you desire. It's got minerality, flavours of baked earth, forest, rose, toast and tar, together with streams of dry, long, structured tannins...Drink: 2006 - 2012. 93 points."


Divine Food & Wine - Sally Gudgeon, Edition: Dec / Feb 2004

2002 Pinot (barrel sample) - "The homage to Burgundy is certainly evident in this stunning wine. Dewy rose petals, reminiscent of a Chambolle Musigny, mix with a distinctive minerality and hints of truffle and leather, to form layer upon layer of complexity on the nose. The palate has elegance and power, with subtle fruit and silky, silky tannins. Stunning."

2001 Chardonnay - "All of Smith's wines are made for the long haul, which he predicts will peak at around six to ten years - and this is no exception. Only wild yeasts are used (including malolactic) and it undergoes 100% barrel fermentation in 50% new French oak. The nose has hints of hazelnut, "good" dirt and restrained stone fruit characters. The palate is lean, textured and intense and it tapers elegantly to an impressive minerality on the finish."

The Bulletin "Wines of the Future" Colin Climo, December 10 2003

2001 Chardonnay - "Keppell Smith quit the money markets aiming to create wines that would rival the very best burgundies. This is the second vintage from his small, close-planted Beechworth vineyard and it is an absolute stunner. Made in the manner of many top white burgundies – fermented with natural yeasts and bottled unfiltered – it is reminiscent of a premier cru Puligny-Montrachet. His pinot is eagerly anticipated."

Gourmet Traveller Wine "hot 100 wine experiences of the year" - Oct / Nov 2003

2001 Chardonnay - "A relatively new producer from Beechworth, with a complex, elegant 2001 chardonnay, and a pinot that shows promise too " Philip Rich

2001 Chardonnay - "The next Giaconda, perhaps?" Sharon Wild