On the Trail

Oakridge: Burgundian Down Under

Ryan Woodhouse

The Oakridge wines have been nothing short of revolutionary here at K&L since we started working directly with these wines in 2012. They have overwhelmingly destroyed the stereotype that Australian wines are all big, over-ripe, fruit-bombs as the wines are the absolute antithesis to this perception. They have convinced our staff and customers alike that Australia can and does produce wines with all of the elegance, nuance and balance one might find in the wines of Burgundy. The Oakridge winery is in Yarra Valley, one of the coolest, most ocean influenced regions in Australia. Yarra Valley is literally right next to the gastronomic metropolis of Melbourne, one of Australia’s most hip and cultural cities. The food and wine scene here rivals San Francisco and is the natural place for dynamic wines like Oakridge’s to flourish.

The winemaker at Oakridge is twenty-five year veteran David Bicknell. He is considered by his peers and critics alike as one of the top winemakers in all of Australia—the king of cool climate chardonnay. The Oakridge wines are defined by precision, balance and elegance. They are all very moderate in alcohol, rarely exceeding 13.5%. The chardonnays don’t go through malolactic fermentation, meaning that they are more refined, mineral, and almost Chablis-like—no butter. The pinot noirs are typically medium bodied with lots of bright fruit, dusty/earthy notes, forest floor, and they are super food friendly (I once served Oakridge Pinot Noir blind to a master sommelier; his guess was a Premier Cru Savigny-lès-Beaune!) The Oakridge cabernet is like old school California cab (think Mount Eden or Ridge) with leafy, tobacco notes, cedar, blue/black fruits and good acidity; it's perfect with a rare steak.

Unlike many of our direct import producers who have very little press or notoriety outside the regions from which they're from, the Oakridge wines have huge scores from the critics! It's just that no other retailer in the U.S. has considered taking a position on them. Thanks to our direct import program, however, they are fantastically priced—even the single vineyard wines come in under $20! These are the types of wines we love to drink here at K&L hence why you will see these tagged as "staff picks” year in year out. Working directly with the producer allows us to pass on the middleman savings to our customers, which is exactly what we love to do!

These are some of my favorite wines from Australia. They're $30+ elsewhere and yet they're all under twenty bucks here at K&L. We just got another batch in so come have a look at what's arrived. I hope you enjoy them! 

-Ryan Woodhouse