Tag: Margaret River

Feb 02 2012

How winning the Jimmy Watson can put not just a winery but a whole region on the map!

Posted on February 02, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When Nick Glaetzer’s Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers MON PèRE Shiraz 2010 became the first Tasmanian wine to win the fabled 2011 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, it brought back memories of another equally historic win. Back in 1983, David Hoehnen, then of Cape Mentelle, won the trophy for the winery’s 1982 dry red claret. It was the first time a Margaret River region cabernet sauvignon had won the coveted award, which was first established in 1963 by Jimmy Watson’s family and friends to honour his legacy of promoting fresh, young Australian reds.

In a fascinating article on the history of the Jimmy Watson in the second issue of James Halliday’s Wine Companion magazine, Hoehnen told wine writer Jane Faulkner that winning the Jimmy Watson was not only life changing for Cape Mentelle but for the Margaret River region in general: “The most telling achievement of the award was not just about getting the name Cape Mentelle out and better recognised, which it did and that was wonderful for us, but more so it was critical Margaret River. From then on people took notice.” (“Just Rewards” by Jane Faukner, James Halliday’s Wine Companion, Feb/Mar 2012)

Only time will tell whether Glaetzer’s win will be equally as significant for his fledgling young winery and for Tasmanian shiraz in general. But the win has already generated a fair amount of publicity, with many commentators noting that for a Tasmanian shiraz to beat out 1,249 other young red wine entries is nothing less than extraordinary.

When it comes to red wine production, Tasmania is far better known for pinot noir than  shiraz. All up less than five hectares of shiraz vines are planted in Tasmania, and as a whole Tasmania accounts for less than 1 per cent … Read the rest

Feb 02 2011

Margaret River: Australia’s Answer to Bordeaux!

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Is Margaret River Australia’s answer to Bordeaux? After spending a week looking at some of the best estates on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, I couldn’t help thinking about the similarities between Bordeaux and Margaret River. Like Bordeaux, Margaret River shines at making cabernet sauvignon blends and one of its signature whites is a typical Bordeaux blend of sauvignon blanc and semillion.

No surprise then to learn that the renowned agronomist Dr. John Gladstones from the University of Western Australia published two reports in 1965 and 1966 respectively that confirmed Margaret River as an ideal region for viticulture and compared the climate to Bordeaux’s Pomeral region.

In fact, Margaret River’s climate is much more sympathetic to grape growing than Bordeaux. Summer rain is almost virtually non-existent, allowing the grapes in most years to fully ripen and avoid problems like mildew and rot that can plague Bordeaux’s vines. Its maritime location – the furthest part of Margaret River is about 7 km from the Indian Ocean – creates a temperate climate that insures a long growing season, while also accommodating earlier ripening varieties such as chardonnay – another variety for which Margaret River has established a great reputation. While Margaret River’s top winemakers can single out the top vintages over the region’s short 40 plus year history, vintage variation is far less of an issue in Margaret River than it is in Bordeaux.

Like Bordeaux, the terroir of Margaret River is ancient. Ranging from 150 to 200 metres above sea level, the best vineyards are on a ridge, which was once a granitic island and considered to be one of the oldest land masses in the world. The weathered, free draining gravel soils over clay subsoils and decomposed granite are not too rich in organic matter, providing the necessary stress that grape vines … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

‘Wines Not Mines:’ Help Margaret River Make the Case!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Earlier this year the Upper Hunter Valley local community had a first-ever win over coal mining interests. The NSW Premier Kristine Keneally stopped the Bickham open cut coal mine, north of Scone, from going ahead, citing the unique rural characteristics of the locality, the economic importance of the local horse-breeding industry and community opposition as the main reasons for finally rejecting the proposal. (Upper Hunter Valley coal mine defeated by thoroughbred industry, Independent Media Centre, Australia, 16 May 2010)

Now the battleground has moved to the Margaret River in Western Australia, where the local community is trying to stop the proposed Vasse Coal Project at Osmington, which is 15 km from the Margaret River township and 1 km from the Margaret River waterway.

Potential problems from the proposed underground mine include groundwater contamination, a drop in air quality, wine grape tainting and traffic congestion.

But more emphatically, the Margaret River Wine Industry Association believes that the Margaret River’s world-class reputation as a wine producer and tourist destination will be threatened if mining in the region is permitted. (Wines Not Mines in Margaret River, Press Release, Margaret River Wine Industry Association, 20 August 2010)

Unlike the Upper Hunter Valley, where 14 massive open cut coal mines already co-exist, albeit in an uneasy relationship, with vineyards, horse-breeding and other agricultural activities, the Margaret River is a largely pristine, geographically isolated environment that up until now hasn’t had to worry about environmental threats from the mining industry.

Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines says it’s “madness” to jeopardise Margaret River’s pristine reputation, “We’re recognised as a world-famous tourist destination and if we’re going to develop anything, it should be that.” Cullen recently stated. (Wine industry bid to crush Margaret River coal mine by Trevor Paddenburg, The Sunday Times, 7 August … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Showcasing the Margaret River in Sydney

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com wine critic, recently said, “Margaret River has already achieved great things, but not as great as what will follow.” (Final Thoughts on Margaret River, June 2010).

In less than 45 years the Margaret River, one of the most geographically isolated wine making regions in the world, has garnered an extraordinary level of recognition both in Australia and overseas.

And as a recent showcase of 25 labels from the region at the MCA in Sydney last week attests, the Margaret River is still an extremely dynamic and emerging wine region. In addition to the icon wineries, which include Vasse Felix, Moss Wood, Leeuwin Estate and Cullen,  a growing number of small, family-run wineries are making wines of distinction, and many new and long-established wineries are successfully experimenting with a range of different varieties and blends.

Margaret River has long been synonymous with Bordeaux style cabernet sauvignon and cabernet blends. Indeed, at the Showcase I overheard a number of guests say that they were restricting their tastings just to the reds. But Margaret River also makes outstanding chardonnay (Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay and Pierro Chardonnay are rated ‘Exceptional’ and ‘Outstanding’ respectively in Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine), and many of the wineries make excellent sauvignon blanc/semillon and semillon/sauvignon blanc blends.

For such a young wine region Margaret River has an enviable number of celebrated wineries.  Xanadu, Woodlands, Voyager Estate, Fraser Gallop Estate, Lenton Brae, Wise Wine, Cape Mentelle, Brookland Valley, Celestial Bay, Fermoy Estate, Flametree Wines, Juniper Estate were some of the stand-outs from a long list of acclaimed wineries which were represented at the showcase. Yalumba, the famous brand more commonly associated with the Barossa and Coonawarra, showcased its … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Why Great Wine Promotes Healthy and Good Food!

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you follow food trends, you would have noticed the explosion of interest in sourcing food locally. This phenomena has been sparked not only by a desire to reduce ‘food’ miles – ie. the distance food has to travel to reach our tables. More importantly, buying local is about promoting sustainability, self-reliance, seasonal and indigenous produce, and supporting family-owned farms that are growing food of very high quality.

Not surprisingly, premier Australian winery restaurants have been at the forefront in promoting regional cuisine and sourcing locally grown produce. And because they expect their suppliers to apply the same exacting standards as they do, the ‘partnership’ is achieving some great results!

Like many wineries in the Margaret River, Voyager Estate has its own highly regarded restaurant. Dedicated to showcasing the best regional fare, Voyager is committed to sourcing producers who share their passion and integrity.

Head Chef Blair Allen treasures the nine year relationship Voyager has built with the small family-owned and run Margaret River Venison Farm, “When the order is placed we know we are speaking to people who know and love their product.” Similarly, Paul Smith, the owner of Station Road Green Grocer, which supplies the Voyager restaurant with all its fresh fruit and vegetables, is “very passionate about great quality produce”.

The Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove Restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria serves food inspired by regional France, but the fresh seasonal produce is sourced from the estate and surrounding Mornington Peninsula farms. Montalto has its own expansive herb and vegetable garden, fruit and nut orchard and berry garden to which chefs make daily visits, harvesting the best of the garden for use in the restaurant. The vineyard also sells its own olive oil.

Cullen Wine’s vineyard in the Margaret River is certified “A” Grade … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Support Cullen’s Fight to Protect Biodynamic Farming

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Aria’s Wine List, compiled by head sommelier Matthew Dunne, was awarded the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide 2009 Wine List of Year. The ‘Cellar Treasure’ page features 21 wines from producers who practice biodynamic farming methods. It includes wine from great producers in France, Spain and New Zealand.  Australian wineries featured are such notable names as Castagna, Howard Park, Lethbridge, Ngeringa, Hochkirch, Bindi, Domaine Lucci and Cullen.

Cullen Wines in the Margaret River, Western Australia, has been at the forefront in introducing organic and then biodynamic farming methods to its vineyards and winery. As the winery comments in its most recent newsletter, Grapevine Winter Edition 2010, since adopting biodynamic methods in 2003, “the quality of wines has increased through having greater liveliness, a better balance between the grape flavours, sugar, acid and tannin levels, and the advantage gained from an earlier ripening of the fruit. The wines now require no additives and benefit greatly from having a lower alcohol content than previously.”

Biodynamic viticulture views the farm as a cohesive, interconnected living system which thrives when the cycles of plant growth are aligned with the rhythms of the cosmos. It fosters the health and life of the soil and encourages the success of a diverse range of organisms including yeast and bacteria. Chemicals and additives are not permitted, so the fermentation of the wine depends entirely on the indigenous yeasts associated with the vineyards and winery.

A proposed plan to build a microbrewery on land that adjoins the Cullen vineyards is of great concern not only for Cullen’s but for one of Australia’s great wine growing regions.

The brewer’s yeasts used for fermenting beer have different characters and flavour properties than the wild and natural wine-making yeasts, but are able to grow in wine must. Cullen says that … Read the rest