Category Archives: Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

May 05 2017

Australia’s famed Margaret River wine region turns 50 years old!

Posted on May 05, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Not putting a foot wrong when it comes to recent vintages, Margaret River—at the heart of Western Australia—has become one of the most consistently solid regions for producing quality wines in Australia.

                                                        Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Western Australia, The Wine Advocate, 29 October 2016

Western Australia’s Margaret River region is considered one of  Australia’s, if not the world’s, premier wine regions. Coincidentally its birth coincided with the Beatles release of their most celebrated album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – both fitting testaments to the ground-breaking 1960s era!

In its short 50 year history, Margaret River has proven time and again that it can produce some of the best wines in Australia. Wine critic Huon Hooke recently singled out the Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River Chardonnay as “one of the greatest in the country,” and both the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay and the Xanadu Stevens Road Margaret River Chardonnay are perennial favourites on lists of Australia’s top wines.  Indeed, only recently has Margaret River been pipped at the post by the Yarra Valley as the country’s top performer for chardonnay, and to quote James Halliday, the healthy competition has made chardonnay “the most exciting place to be.”

You would also be hard-pressed to go past Margaret River for cabernets and cabernet blends. Six of the 10 wines in James Halliday’s Top 100 wines for 2016 hailed from the Margaret River. While two of these wines, the Cullen Wines Diana Madeline 2014 and the Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 are wine icons, the list includes some less familiar and relatively inexpensive Margaret River wines: Higher Plane Cabernet Merlot 2014, McHenry Hohnen Vintners Rocky Road Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2014, Warner Glen Estate Frog Belly Cabernet Sauvignon 2014,  and the Snake + Herring Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot Read the rest

Aug 08 2016

Newcomer Cloudburst generates extraordinary excitement!

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In 2013 the Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 caused a major upset at the Margaret River Wine Show. The relative newcomer – 2010 was in fact the first vintage of the cabernet sauvignon – claimed trophies for best cabernet sauvignon, best single-vineyard red and best red wine of show, beating out a host of well established and famous wineries.

And the accolades have kept mounting! Here’s a recent assessment from wine critic Huon Hooke of a sampling of the last three vintages of Cloudburst cabernets, chardonnays and malbecs: “All are superb. These are wines of great finesse, spot-on ripeness and wonderful intensity. They’re beautifully balanced and promise to be long-lived.” (A Cloud bursts in Margaret River by Huon Hooke, The Real Review 14 June 2016)

And more exultant praise for the chardonnays from Jeremy Oliver in the most recent edition of his Wine Annual: “Another leader in the chardonnay stakes is the Margaret River newcomer of Cloudburst, whose three releases to date reveal a combination of concentration and richness in wines of seamless elegance and brightness hitherto unseen in this country.” (Jeremy Oliver, Wine Annual 2016)

We hear a lot about artisanal wines, but the Cloudburst wines are the real deal. They are practically hand-made from the vineyard up by owner/winemaker Will Berliner, an ex-pat New Yorker, who studied wine at UC Davis.

According to wine connoisseur and Cloudburst fan Andrew Hamilton: “His work in the vineyard to my knowledge is unparalleled in the Margaret River region. In fact, I don’t know a single producer in the greater Margaret River region who can claim that their vineyard has never once seen a tractor besides Cloudburst. His vines are close planted Burgundy style with vines and rows equally spaced at a meter apart from one another. His approach to … Read the rest

Aug 08 2016

The Ageing Potential of Australia’s Great Wines

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown named her top three wines for 2015. These aren’t current vintage wines, but rather rare treats she’s been lucky to sample, often in the company of the winemakers themselves. Of the three,  two were Australian – a 1982 Cullens Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River and a Wendouree Shiraz, Clare Valley 1995. The third – unsurprisingly I guess – was a 1967 Echezeaux, Domaine de La Romanee Conti! (I’m guessing few people in the world would have a chance to try one of those!) (Lisa Perrotti Brown’s Guide to the Best of 2015, December 2015, eRobertParker.com)

Anyway, more evidence, if any was needed, of the wonderful ageing potential of Australia’s great wines. Perrotti Brown even went so far as to say that the 1982 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon looks “spritelier than many Bordeaux ’82s.”

And, of course, her reference to the ’82 vintage of Bordeaux won’t be lost on subscribers to The Wine Advocate. After all, this is the vintage most famously associated with the rise of the American critic Robert M. Parker Jr. As remembered by The New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov, Parker’s “clear, certain and unqualified” praise for the vintage caused “feverish excitement and a frenzied market that reached beyond professionals and connoisseurs to a new group of buyers in it for the curiosity, status and investment possibilities.” (From 1982, Glasses more than Full by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 20 March 2012)

wendouree-shiraz-clare-valley-australia-10303447tMost of the legendary ’82 Bordeaux wines, which are nowadays bought as trophies or investments, are terrifically expensive. Fortunately earlier vintages of Australia’s great wines are far more affordable (if you can find them) and by all accounts worth seeking out!

by Merrill Witt, Editor

 

Photo Credit: eRobertParker.com

The Cellarit Wine Market has … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvigon: Taking Margaret River Cabernet in a New Direction

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In the June/July 2011 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine, wine critic Nick Bulleid MW offered the following summary of the general style of Margaret River cabernet sauvignon:

Stylistically I see Margaret River cabernet at its best as intensely varietal, with blackcurrant and other dark fruits plus hints of capsicum and herbal overtones often describes as “bay leaf” or “seaweed”. While some drinkers weaned on cabernet from hotter areas regard capsicum and leaf characters as under-ripe, I disagree: they an essential part of high quality cabernet, with one proviso – that the tannins are ripe. Margaret River cabernet certainly has firm tannins in its youth, but they should be evenly mouth-coating and not grasp you around your lips and then reappear as a green, bitter finish. (Captivating Cabernet by Nick Bulleid MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, June/July 2011)

Rob Mann, chief winemaker at Cape Mentelle, may not necessarily concur with Bulleid’s assessment of the attractiveness of herbal characters in Margaret River cabernet. Since joining Cape Mentelle in 2005, he has made significant changes both in the vineyard and the winery to minimise the herbaceous notes in the winery’s flagship cabernet sauvignon. As he told the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman back in 2007:  “The strong herbal, capsicum (bell pepper), bordering on eucalyptus and menthol flavors, is accepted in Australia as a regional trait. I want minimize that and go for ripe, more classical berry flavors.” (Getting the Green Out in Margaret River by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 18 October 2007)

 

 

Working with viculturist Ashley Wood, Mann has introduced new imported clones and rootstocks to create a broader spectrum of flavours in the wines, replanted vineyards at closer density to improve the flavour intensity of the grapes, and minimised as much as possible the use of artificial fertilisers.

In … Read the rest

Aug 08 2011

Wine of the Week: Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon is undoubtedly one of Western Australia’s top cabernet sauvignons. Ray Jordan of the West Australian recently singled out the Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 as the ‘Best of the Best’ of 500 wines from all over Australia selected for tasting. Here’s his review:

An opulent and densely packed cabernet from Margaret River. Just about the best yet under this label, with its deep, black fruits, dark chocolate and black olive aromas. Tannins are slightly chewy and the fine-grained oak lays a long path to a lingering finish. Excellent wine of great power and potential. (Aussie wines back in top form by Ray Jordan, Fresh Best Reds, The West Australian, 7 July 2011)

Howard Park is owned by Jeff and Amy Burch, and is one of the 12 members of Australia’s First Families of Wine. Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate recently spoke about how much he enjoys writing about family-owned wineries:

I can tell you, that as a wine writer, it is infinitely more rewarding composing a piece where an individual and/or a family are the proprietor and not a corporation. That is not to imply that the latter craft inferior wine, but rather that the lifeblood of a vineyard, the soul of a wine, is manifested and enhanced by the personality of the winemaker, the stories they have to tell, their trials and tribulations, their triumphs and disasters. It brings the words of an article to life and hopefully renders the prose more interesting to both write and read. (Keeping It In The (Australian) Family by Neil Martin, The Wine Advocate, August 2010)

What I most enjoy is seeing family wineries go from strength to strength without compromising the integrity or quality of their wines. Since it was … Read the rest