If someone had told me 5 years ago I'd be calling chardonnay Penfolds' most consistent performer in 2011, I might've told them to go jump in a lake of Bin 65. Of particular merit is Penfolds' recent efforts with the lower end Thomas Hyland, which now makes a serious claim to being Australia's most reliable (mass-market) $15 chardonnay.
Not sure why Thomas Hyland Chardonnay has replaced the words 'Cool Climate' with 'Adelaide' on the front label (Hills fruit mainly?), but it still shows plenty of bang for your buck, with its winemaker derived creamed hazelnut and soft vanilla oak aromas mixing it up nicely with tickles of grapefruit and spice, in an ably balanced, rich, bright and crisp style. It's ultra clean and clear in the mouth, revealing true mineral refinement for the dollar, however, there's also a lovely undertone of yeasty/leesy characters providing ample richness and flavour to its creamy palate, which is driven pleasingly long by a bright spark of finely honed in, tangy, perhaps pineapple-like acidity, reflecting all the winemaking polish you'd expect from a modern Penfolds chardonnay.
ü+ Another step up from what must be one of Penfolds' under recognised, yet ever improving labels. You'd be very hard pressed to beat this for a $14 Australian chardonnay at a supermarket chain. Drink to 2014.