Category Archives: Margaret River Chardonnay

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

Nov 11 2015

James Suckling Announces his Top 100 Wines of 2015

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

You know the holiday season is fast approaching when the world’s top wine critics start announcing their top wines of the year.  The team at JamesSuckling.com tasted an astonishing 9,000 wines, and Suckling himself tried 7,500. With the exception of Champagne, Australia and New Zealand, which are covered for the website by Australian wine critic Nick Stock, Suckling reviews wines from all over the world and in 2015 travelled to wine regions in France, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Spain, and the United States!

The list of his top 10 wines in 2015 is an interesting compilation because to come up with the rankings, value for money and availability were considered alongside point scores. (None of the wines in the Top 10 scored less than 96 points.) Priced at US$70 or below, these are wines that can still be found for sale on WineSearcher.com.

The Flametree SRS Walcliffe Chardonnay 2014 from the Margaret River is the only Australian wine to make the top 10 list, coming in at no. 9.  Auscellardoor has it for the lowest price on WineSearcher.com- $48.90 per bottle.

This wine has been widely acclaimed. It was a star performer at the 2015 James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge, where it was awarded 97 points and rated the leading Western Australia Chardonnay of the Challenge. Wine critic Campbell Mattinson also gave it a terrific review:

96 Points. Chardonnay to blind the weary drivers. Nothing else can set fire to this glass. Score is irrelevant. This wine is wonderful. Flavour and funk. Tropical fruit, grapefruit, white peach, pear. Struck match notes scorch over pristine, mouthwatering fruit. Length. Poise. Precision.– Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, 26 August 2015.

2010-frescobaldi-castelgiocondo-brunelloSuckling’s Wine of the Year in 2015, the  Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2010, is still available from … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2010 – “A New Wave of Chardonnay”

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

In a recent article on Australian chardonnay, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman commented that when it comes to a preferred style of chardonnay, most people “want grace and elegance, but they want it to come with plenty of flavor and real charm.” (Action in Australian Chardonnay: New styles modeled on Burgundy make it the buzz of the country now by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 2 December 2011)

The multi-award winning Vasse Felix Heystesbury Chardonnay 2010 is certainly a very fine example of the style of chardonnay Steiman so succinctly describes. In the tasting notes, Vasse Felix’s Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock remarked that the palate of the 2010 vintage “exhibits that wonderful and rare quality: power with restraint.” In other words, it delivers what most people would consider the hallmarks of a great chardonnay:

A dramatic and powerful nose that is constantly evolving in the glass. Amongst the descriptors are sublime fragrant citron and baby pineapple, while wild notes of lamb’s fat and struck flint provide a beguiling complexity that lift the floral and spice fruit perfume and frame a stunning Heytesbury Chardonnay nose.

Palate. Super fine, textured and succulent with impeccable balance and poise driven by seamless natural acidity. Juicy white nectarine and preserved lemon puree form a strong fruit core which is embellished with flavours of spicy oak, lanolin and flint. (Vasse Felix tasting notes)

The 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay is in fact Vasse Felix’s most awarded wine to date. The wine has picked up an unprecedented eight trophies from the top wine shows in the country, including the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, where it won the coveted top prize, “Most Outstanding Red or White Wine in Show.”

In many respects the 2010 vintage represents the most recent incarnation of a style of chardonnay that Willcock has been developing and … Read the rest