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 winemaking can easily be described as minimalist and he’s a true believer that great wine comes from great fruit and as such he focuses incredible effort into producing the best fruit possible annually.” (Cloudburst Dinner at Rockpool in Perth, Wine Berserkers 20 July 2016)
Cloudburst’s beautiful 1.2 hectare property is situated behind the famed Woodlands winery on Caves Road in the prime Margaret River sub-region of Wilyabrup. Berliner and his Australian born wife bought the property in 2005, and acquired rootstock from Cullens and Woodlands. The wine is made at Woodlands, and Berliner describes Woodlands’ winemaker Stuart Watson as a “friend, co-winemaker and mentor.” (Cloudburst: a moment of reflection, a moment of quality by David Rogers, Palate Press, 14 July 2016)
In Australia, the Cloudburst wines are available only through the winery’s website or at the nation’s best restaurants. (starting at $200 a bottle). Most of the tiny production (450 cases across three varietals) is snapped up by top US restaurants like The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Eleven Madison Park in New York!
by Merrill Witt, Editor