26 September 2023

A sad good-bye to a great one

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By John Rozentals.

Dan Buckle: a fair influence from Dr Tony Jordan.

News can take a while to get through to Molong, so I have only just learnt of the death a few months or so ago of Dr Tony Jordan, my first wine-science supervisor at college, a senior staffer for Moet Hennessy, and largely responsible for the creation of that French giant’s Domaine Chandon winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.

My first experience with Tony was at a college lab class when he responded to an innocent, if ill-conceived, question with an acerbic “Are you fucking stupid, or what?” The asker shrank into their lab-coat, which should have carried a previously absent brown stain.

Here, I thought, was someone on my plane, someone who told it as is was, and, above all, someone with a very low tolerance threshold to anyone he thought a fool.

The Australian wine industry — nay, the world’s wine industry — has lost a truly great one.

I won’t say I became friends with Tony, but I had plenty to do with him over the years, and it’s appropriate that I had this article on Chandon’s great Australian bubblies in the pipeline when I heard news of his death from mesothelioma.

Tony obviously had a fair influence on Dan Buckle, who has been Senior Winemaker at Chandon since 2012.

Dan’s father has a vineyard on the nearby Mornington Peninsula, so Dan should have been aware of the wine industry’s reputation for demanding blood, sweat and tears, but he obviously didn’t read the chapter on the essential requirement for hard, largely unrequited, work.

Anyway, enough verbal gushing.

I have a passion for sparkling wines made with a high red-grape component, which gives them strength of body and provides a certain steeliness to their structure.

That’s why I often prefer the NV rosés in a line-up of French Champagnes, despite a look that some suggest is “girly-ish”.

Well, I found plenty to like in the line-up of Buckle’s recent releases from Chandon.


Chandon NV Rosé ($25): Made from a traditional Champagne blend of chardonnay, pinot meuniere and pinot noir, the dominance of the red grape, pinot noir, is the highlight. The bouquet starts with red berries but finishes with fresh bread and yeast. The wine is good on its own as an aperitif but, as Buckle points out in his winemaker’s notes, will also go well with a plate of sashimi.

Chandon 2015 Whitlands Plateau Blanc de Blancs ($42): Okay, this is pure chardonnay without even a skerrick of red grapes, but its origins in the cold Victorian high country guarantee the wine a place in this small line-up and a profound degree of elegance and sophistication. Bright citrus flavours dominate a bubbly which will sit well with quite simply prepared seafood. Buckle suggests seared scallops with lime butter. I’m not arguing.


Chandon 2015 Blanc de Noirs ($39): Now we’re talking — a bubbly made 100 per cent from Yarra Valley pinot noir and pinot meuniere, and fashioned into a delightful melange of rich fruits, such as ripe figs, and freshly baked biscuits. The result is simply sensational — a sparking wine that will comfortably sit alongside roast du ck and roast pork. My suggestion: try it with peking duck, cooked traditionally and served with plenty of sauce and wonton wrappers.

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