Leeuwin Estate is one of the icon wineries of the Margaret River. Its Art Series Chardonnay is considered on the best in country, but the Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon is also winning high praise from critics and consumers alike.
Of course, when it comes to the Art Series, opening the bottle to taste the ‘art’ inside is not a decision you make lightly. The idea of tossing the empty bottle with its distinctive one-of-a-kind art label into the recycling bin almost seems like a crime. Leeuwin Estate commissions paintings from leading contemporary Australian artists for each vintage of the Art Series and some of the finest artists in the country, including John Olsen, Clifton Pugh and Imants Tillers, have contributed superb labels over the years.
The current 2005 vintage of the Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon certainly lives up to its quality label. It has the distinctive nose that is characteristic of the best Margaret River vintages: wonderful aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, plum and liquorice complemented by beautifully integrated aromas of new French oak. The palate of sweet and lush fruit is balanced by high acidity and fine-grained tannins, creating an elegant and balanced wine with a long finish.
In the style of a fine Bordeaux: petit verdot, malbec and merlot are typically added in varying proportions to add structure, colour, mid-palate richness, softness and complexity, the wine is designed to age. Gary Walsh of the Wine Front gives the 2005 vintage a drinking window of between 2015 and 2030. (The Wine Front, 5 August 2010)
In 1972 the legendary Californian winemaker Robert Mondavi identified the future site of Leeuwin Estate and then worked as a consultant with Leeuwin Estate founders Denis and Tricia Horgan to establish the vineyard and winery – the first commercial vintage was released in 1979.
The ancient free draining gravel soils over sandy gravel sub-soils on clay were deemed ideal for the growing of cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. Today, with approximately 256-acres under vine, Leeuwin Estate also works closely with local contract growers to source between 30 to 40 per cent of its fruit. Environmentally friendly and organic practices are used as much as possible. Trees and sunflowers, for example, are planted in the vineyard to minimise wind and bird damage respectively.
Under the guidance of Chief Winemaker Paul Atwood, the wine is batch-vinified and partially whole bunch fermented in closed state-of-the-art stainless steel fermenters. The batches are blended and racked into 25- 40% new French oak and seasoned barrels for a period of around two years. Another example of a beautifully made Margaret River cabernet sauvignon!