Lambert Wines

Cutting Edge Classics―The 2023 Chardonnay and Syrah
Lambert Wines
Luke and Rosalind are loving these long, La Niña-influenced seasons. 2023 was the latest in a trio of cool, low-yielding and late-harvesting seasons in the Yarra Valley, and the conditions played right into the hands of Lambert and his partner. After years of working with the Denton site, the pair have enough experience to know that in years like this, flavour arrives late. In the end, they delayed harvest until 7th March, four weeks later than in the equally cool 2022 vintage. “We’re happy we waited until we did,” Luke told us. “There’s a lot of flavour.”

There’s a whole lot of quality, too. Channelling the unique granite soils of the Denton site, Lambert’s minimalistic Chardonnay combines fleshy, pulpy citrus with the thrilling rocky minerality and mouth-watering tension associated with these talented winemakers. In the red corner, Luke has found a new dimension with Syrah from Denton. The doyen of Californian Syrah, Pax Mahle, told us he recently picked blind a Lambert Syrah as a top-level Côte-Rôtie. This gives you an idea of the vivid, savoury Rhône-like appeal Luke craves in his wine.

On the other, it reminds us how lucky we are to have such a gifted winemaker on our doorstep. The captivating new release is, quite possibly, even better than the excellent 2022. Time will tell. Either way, both releases are buzzing with life and place and deserve their billing as two of the Yarra’s most exciting wines.

The Wines

Lambert Chardonnay 2023
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Lambert Chardonnay 2023

Lambert’s crystalline 2023 Chardonnay is drawn from its usual plot of clone 95 Chardonnay at the top of the east-facing slope in Denton Vineyard. Here, the granitic soils are elevated and are considerably thinner than further down the slope where the Crudo vines (P58) are located. Clone 95 is an early-ripening clone with small canopies and berries, so Luke pays particular attention to managing sun exposure and picking dates for these vines.

The winemaking is typical Lambert. The fruit is pressed as whole bunches, ferments naturally and matures in a 2000-litre foudre with a touch more lees stirring this year to build texture around the bright, citrusy frame. Luke has often told us that Denton’s granitic character can be seen most acutely in Chardonnay, and all that mineral tension, stone fruit and river stone flavour screams through in this cracking vintage. It’s one of the most pristine, focused Lambert Chardonnays we have tasted. Back up the truck.

“Because the 2023 vintage was so cool and drawn out, Luke Lambert ended up picking chardonnay from the Denton vineyard a little later than usual. The result is a typically restrained, pristine and citrus-juicy expression of the grape, but with a little more deliciously appealing fruit than the particularly lean, focused and chalky 2022.”
Max Allen, The Financial Review
“It’s a juicier iteration of this wine, offering plenty of Chardonnay flavour. It tastes of cling peach, lemon oil, pink grapefruit and has a distinct aniseed perfume, plus gentle spice. It’s a little bit creamy, a little bit nutty/savoury, though does have plenty of ripe grapefruit zing to it, a fine chalky grip, and plenty of length, with an almost Fruit Tingle buzz to it. Flavour with texture. Yum.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Lambert Chardonnay 2023
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Lambert Syrah 2023
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Lambert Syrah 2023

Lambert’s Syrah continues to scale new heights. Picked four weeks later than in 2022, Lambert prefers the cooler, later seasons—believing his Syrah attains greater depth and detail, including the brooding, spicy traits he craves. The Syrah grows on the sunnier western side of Denton towards the top of the slope, where soil is thin and yields low.

This year, 80% whole bunches were included. In the crucial early days of vinification, Rosalind foot stomps the ferments three times a day to ensure each berry is quickly but gently popped, maximising the juice’s exposure to skins and stalks. Ferments are fast, and the wine is promptly pressed, settled and racked to 5000-litre foudre for maturation. This is such a composed, vivid young Syrah. Expect bright perfume, spice and dark berries woven through delicious earthy, stony elements. It’s slick, expressive and super long; world-class Syrah at an attainable price!

“Beautifully poised, cool expression of shiraz with concentrated but elegant dark cherry fruit and a subtle overlay of spice. A very good follow-up to the excellent 2022, which is drinking beautifully now.”
Max Allen, The Financial Review
“Dark cherry and blue fruits, plenty of spice, black olive and grilled meat. It’s medium-bodied, spicy and perfumed, meaty too, with a surprisingly intense burst of ‘minerally’ acidity through its core. Tannin is all crushed rock and sooty goodness, and the finish is long and savoury and stalky. Very good.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Lambert Syrah 2023
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“Soft-spoken Luke Lambert likes to let his wines do the talking. They are distinctly lo-fi, with the winemaking stripped back to the bare essentials to let the vineyards and vintages fully express themselves. This involves no cultured yeast, no filtration and large format oak, which helps Lambert craft some of the Yarra's most cerebral wines.” Vinous

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