Lambert Wines

Cool Hand Luke: The Classically Styled Crudo ‘23s
Lambert Wines
The 2023 vintage proved another excellent season for Luke Lambert and Rosalind Hall. Much like the preceding two years, La Niña’s cool theme has translated to elegant, aromatic and vibrant wines with immediate charm. “They’re perfumed with great acidity and structure and wonderful with food,” says Luke on the wines. “If you like classically styled Yarra Valley wines, the 2023s are going to make you very happy.”

This year, Luke and Rosalind are releasing their first Shiraz from the Martingale vineyard in Gruyere. Located just behind Coldstream Hills, it is owned and farmed by their friend Chris Kennedy. Without naming names, the fruit finds its way into some of the region's more prestigious bottlings. A big drawcard was a Shiraz clone Luke was keen to work with again—full details can be found in the note—but in short, you can expect a seriously good Crudo Shiraz to go alongside the flat-out delicious Chardonnay and rosé.

On a side note, Luke’s name came up in a conversation recently with Pax Mahle, the doyen of Californian Syrah. Known for his reverence of the great wines of the northern Rhône, he told us of his recent delight when a beautiful blind-tasted wine picked as Côte-Rôtie turned out to be the layered, mineral, cool and spicy handiwork of our man in the Yarra. Happily, we still have some of Luke's 2022 Syrah in stock if you'd like to repeat this trick in your own tasting (you'll find that below after the Crudos).

The Wines

Lambert Crudo Chardonnay 2023
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Lambert Crudo Chardonnay 2023

Since moving his Chardonnay sourcing to the Denton vineyard, we have seen even greater mineral depth in both the Lambert Crudo and Estate Chardonnays. “The granite soils of the Denton vineyard are most evident in the Chardonnay wines,” Luke tells us. And what’s in the glass certainly backs up this claim. The Crudo fruit hails from the east/northeast-facing slope on the cone-shaped Denton vineyard. The vines are now 20 years old, sitting on those expressive soils of granitic sand over heavy granite boulders. 

As is the norm, the fruit was whole bunch-pressed and spontaneously fermented with no temperature control. The wine went through full malolactic conversion and matured in old oak (2,000-litre French oak foudre) for three to four months. It was bottled without fining or filtration and with minimum sulphur. 

It’s another scintillating release, a wine as composed, refined, chiselled and elegant as many with a loftier price tag. A picture of balance and harmony, it’s springtime fresh, with pure, ripe fruit flavours accented by white flowers and deep, stony minerals. It sits beautifully on the palate, composed and flowing to a long, seamless finish. Flat out gorgeous.

“There is brilliant value to be found in the 2023 Chardonnay Crudo from Luke Lambert that, while not especially powerful, delivers with sheer class. It opens with waves of grapefruit and gentle flint, topped by a fine saline edge. Tangy melon, sherbet and citrus flavor are underpinned by subtle creamy cashew oak in a compact, well-focused style. There’s a fresh acid bite to the finish.”
91 points, Angus Hughson, Vinous
“A whole lot of umami flavour on offer here. It’s saline and quite wild, chicken stock with a subtle fino sherry character, also some chamomile perfume. The fruit flavours play second fiddle here, though it does have preserved lemon, Japanese ginger, green apple and pear (of the same colour). Shows a tickle of spritz too, and some Disprin/Eno character too, which I like. Finish is zippy, yet nutty, and offers excellent length. So distinctive. Excellent.”
94 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Lambert Crudo Chardonnay 2023
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Lambert Crudo Rosé 2023
Lambert Crudo Rosé 2023
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Lambert Crudo Rosé 2023

Sourced entirely from the granite-rich Denton vineyard, the 2023 Crudo Rosé is 95% Shiraz with a 5% lift from Nebbiolo off the same site. The vines have spent 16 years in these rocky soils, facing northwest from near the top of the cone-shaped slope. The fruit was pressed as whole bunches and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tank. The wine completed malolactic conversion and was bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulphur. 

From the cool, low-cropping 2023 season, we agree with Luke’s assertion that this is the most refined and perfumed rosé he’s made. It’s got a lot in common with the bright, red-fruited and fragrant 2022 but feels more vinous and savoury and shows a touch more elegance and mineral appeal. It’s got al fresco dining written all over it.



"It’s a delight. Sappy, savoury-edged, tart and red berry fruited. Pretty perfume, good depth and crunch, indeed, despite the ruby colour only a few pay grades below light red, you could say. A little slickness to texture, then that little rumble of tannin and bitey, chewy acidity rolls through. Energetic, thirst-quenching stuff."
93 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“This 2023 Rosé Crudo is quite serious, although it starts a little shy, opening with baked raspberry, wild strawberry and watermelon aromas. Large format old oak helps to unearth some more meaty nuances. Dry and textural, with power and weight, earthy flavors dominate, with a nice touch of grip and a surprisingly long finish. This is vinous and food friendly.”
92 points, Angus Hughson, Vinous
Lambert Crudo Rosé 2023
Lambert Crudo Rosé 2023
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Lambert Crudo Shiraz 2023
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Lambert Crudo Shiraz 2023

This year’s Crudo Shiraz is the first release from Luke and Rosalind’s new vineyard source, the Martingale vineyard in Gruyere. Friend and owner Chris Kennedy established the vineyard in 2017 on a gentle, north-facing slope at 140 metres above sea level on the grey duplex soils of the Lower Yarra Valley. He and Luke are on the same page when it comes to farming practices, and the site is managed sustainably.

The clone of Shiraz planted on the site proved a drawcard for Luke. Unlike the lion’s share of Shiraz vines in the Yarra Valley, which are PT23 clone, the Martingale vineyard is planted to Tahbilk, a clone Luke worked with at the Tibooburra vineyard. It’s a clone that gives bunches with small round berries and rich wines with more body and mass than PT23. You can expect a delicious uptick in spice, structure and savoury nuance from 2023.

As always, Luke takes a no-frills approach in the cellar. The fruit was destemmed, and spontaneous fermentation occurred in an old 5,000-litre oak cask before being bottled without fining or filtration. The results are super impressive: it’s a high-toned, captivating, layered Shiraz, svelte and silky in weight with deep dark fruits mingled with spicy pepper notes and earthy complexity. Joyful stuff.

“The charming 2023 Shiraz Crudo is moreish, with ample black cherry, Middle Eastern spices and violet aromas that demand attention. It then changes track and tightens up, with juicy acidity and stalky tannins giving a distinctly savory feel. It’s a little angular right now but will flesh out nicely.”
91 points, Angus Hughson, Vinous
“Juicy, creamy, spicy, cracked pepper with red and blue fruits, maybe some violet? This is an unusually affable and approachable wine for Crudo, and gee, I like it for that. A little bit meaty, fennel and berries, a good grind of black pepper, smudgy tannin, with a lively finish of good length. Excellent.”
93 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Lambert Crudo Shiraz 2023
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Lambert Syrah 2022
Lambert Syrah 2022
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Lambert Syrah 2022

The fruit for this Syrah was sourced from the west side of the Denton vineyard, where it enjoys more afternoon sun. Like the Chardonnay, the vines are located at the top of the hill where the topsoil depth is negligible, and yields are much lower than is the case for the Crudo vines, which are on the lower part of the slope.

Luke tells us that one of the most valuable things he’s learned over his career is “how to extract the best out of bunch”, and those of you familiar with his reds will know this to be true (2022 saw an 80% whole bunch component). His ferments are fast—usually 10 to 12 days for the Syrah. Rosalind and Olive (Luke’s daughter) managed pigéage, doing so twice a day and really working the cap. It was then pressed to tank to naturally settle before it was racked to large, old foudre.

Luke has found a new gear with Syrah from Denton; you can expect more structure and potency than ever before. It’s vibrantly perfumed with berry fruits, smoky graphite and savoury spices. The brooding depth flows through to a richly textured palate charged with taut acidity and assertive tannins. The finish is as long as a pair of Tex Perkins’ jeans. Intense, yet full of light and energy, it’s not hard to see why Luke Lambert considers this one of, if not the finest, Syrah he has released.

Luke has found a new gear with Syrah from Denton; you can expect more structure and potency than ever before. It’s vibrantly perfumed with berry fruits, smoky graphite and savoury spices. The brooding depth flows through to a richly textured palate charged with taut acidity and assertive tannins. The finish is as long as a pair of Tex Perkins’ jeans. Intense, yet full of light and energy, it’s not hard to see why Luke Lambert considers this one of, if not the finest, Syrah he has released.

"An unirrigated patch of vines, still establishing themselves. A medium-bodied wine of ethereal scents and a savory structural latticework that brings the drinker back to chew on the tannins. Great tannins, here. Violets, blueberries, iodine, tapenade and saucisson, with a hint of dill, clove and something loamy and ferrous to the mouthfeel, imparting warmth and a strong sense of place. There is something evocative about this, even if new to the style. It all feels intuitive. It all feels right. Drink or hold.”
95 points, Ned Goodwin MW, Top 100 Wines of Australia 2023, jamessuckling.com
“The stunning 2022 Syrah is super-stylish, with a modern, fresh edge. It delivers up a powerful yet refined core of mulberry and blackberry, with toasted spices and stalky dried herbs well matched to a backbone of fine French oak. Fantastic energy follows, the whole-bunchy herbs providing a youthful, compact shape to meaty, spicy and violet flavors, all supported by sturdy tannins. There’s a confidence and composure here that will serve this wine well for at least a decade.”
93 points, Angus Hughson, Vinous
Lambert Syrah 2022
Lambert Syrah 2022
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 “Luke Lambert makes gorgeous, minerally chardonnays and perfumed, savory syrahs under the Luke Lambert label. The wines are fresh and energetic… They are the sorts of wines I love to drink—pure and unpretentious but with character and depth.” Eric Asimov, The New York Times

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