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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"
Showing Characteristic Reserve
© Murray Almond
16 June 2002

Lindemans Padthaway Chardonnay is no more, the yellow labelling has passed on.

This hallmark Australian wine has been replaced in 2001 with Lindemans Padthaway Reserve Chardonnay with a metallic bronze label.

One of my wife's favourite labels over the years has been the Lindemans Padthaway Chardonnay. It's been a remarkably consistent wine with typically good quality fruit, balanced oak and a decent finish. Probably the flirtations with varying the oak intensity over the years, has been the only point of variation with the wine.

It's also very good value, with the wine not budging from an A$10-14 price point over a long period.

So apart from the labelling and the word "Reserve" what else has changed for the wine? In a word, nothing.

The marketing guys at Lindemans have presumably decided that the Padthaway Chardonnay isn't getting the respect it deserves so decided to give it this respect by attaching the "Reserve" tag to it. In this case "Reserve" is a marketing term, not a winemaking term.

The use of the term "Reserve" in labelling varies widely across the industry, but there are no rules or guidelines for its use.

In many cases it does have a meaning, it may be wine that has additional age before release, special grape selection or more premium oak treatment.

In many cases a winery's "Reserve" label carries a quality taste significantly above the standard range, with a price premium to match as well.

Te Kairanga is a prime example for a New Zealand wine where their "Reserve" range is a significant jump in quality over the standard. Over here on the Left Island, labels like Stonier's and Coldstream Hills demonstrate this as well.

Lindemans' addition of the word "Reserve" to their 2001 Padthaway Chardonnay is clearly intended to build a quality association with premium branding. Without a matching lift in quality this ploy is indicative of marketing gone mad and also serves to cheapen the use of the word "Reserve" in other brands. I note that there is also a Lindemans Padthaway "Winemaker's Reserve" that is a true premium label just to confuse things further.

Lindemans and Coldstream Hills are both part of Southcorp Group of companies, it's a pity that the Coldstream Hills guys didn't have a word in Lindemans' ear about the proper use of the word "Reserve".

Oh, and the wine. Very enjoyable, true straw colour, nice melon nose, the oak is more obvious on the palate but with good balance and a long finish. Great value for a $12-17 chardonnay!

From the Left Island


© Murray Almond
16 June 2002

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