Recently the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown singled out “eight stellar” Western Australia producers “who are killing-it when it comes to innovation, quality and coaxing the terroir into the bottle: Cloudburst, Cullen, Frankland Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood, Peccavi, Plantagenet and Woodlands.” (Western Australia Killing-it, 4 March 2016, eRobertparker.com)
Of course, to see Margaret River pioneer Leeuwin Estate on this list is no surprise. Still owned by its founders Denis and Tricia Horgan and now under the direction of their children and grandchildren, Leeuwin Estate has enjoyed an enviable reputation for its world-class wines for over 30 years. Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, for example, lists a staggering 16 vintages, dating back to 1987, as top vintages for the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay – one of only 21 Australian wines ranked “Exceptional” in the classification.
But while Leeuwin Estate has stuck to its knitting, so to speak, by keeping the focus on what does it best – chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon – innovation is still at the forefront of their winemaking approach. Indeed, one of the highlights of a recent Vintage Cellars Double Bay Masterclass with winemaker Phil Hutchison was a single variety not usually associated with Western Australia – the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2014.
Typically, Margaret River wineries blend sauvignon blanc with semillon to create a Bordeaux-style white wine. But the 2014 Leeuwin Estate Art Series vintage is 100% sauvignon blanc. As Hutchison explained, the sauvignon blanc grapes are actually sourced from an 18 year-old vineyard about 20 km south of Margaret River. Here the evening southerly winds dramatically cool down the nighttime temperature in the vineyards, extending the ripening period just enough to significantly lift the subtle lemon, lime and apple aromatics in the wine. Innovative winemaking techniques, like 50% fermentation in 1-2 year old oak barrels with regular battonage or lees stirring, create a wonderfully seductive mouthfeel for this fresh but sophisticated style of sauvignon blanc. Definitely a reason to look twice at Western Australia next time you’re in the market for sauvignon blanc!.. [Read More]