For an estate that is only 12 years old, Fraser Gallop has certainly attracted a good deal of attention. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon won two trophies at the Margaret River Wine Show – Best Red Wine of Show and Best Single Vineyard Estate Red, and winemaker Clive Otto was named a finalist in last year’s Gourmet Traveller’s Wine Winemaker of the Year Awards.

Given the pedigree and experience of the team behind the brand, the growing list of accolades for its relatively young wines is probably not surprising.

Founder Nigel Gallop was on a mission to produce premium Bordeaux style cabernets when in 1998 he settled on 17 hectares of land in the Wilyabrup region. The potential of this Bordeaux-like terroir to produce great cabernet had already been proven by the likes of Moss Wood, Cullen, Pierro and Vasse Felix. From the beginning Gallop decided against irrigation, because he wanted to keep yields low and quality high. Today, this intensive, hands-on approach to vineyard management is overseen by vineyard manager Paul Pavlinovich.

As luck or good fortune would have it, in 2006 Gallop secured the services of experienced winemaker Clive Otto. Discussing Otto’s many achievements, wine critic Peter Forrestal observed, “With a hands-on approach to winemaking and a wealth of experience here and abroad, Clive Otto has been crucial to the rise and rise of Margaret River.” (Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year 2011 finalist: Clive Otto, Fraser Gallop by Peter Forrestal, August/September 2011)

Otto joined Fraser Gallop after a long and stellar career at Vasse Felix, where he oversaw the introduction of the flagship Heytesbury wines and insured that the Vasse Felix range was a perennial winner at leading wine shows.

Otto was attracted to Fraser Gallop because it offered a chance to return to hands-on winemaking at a boutique winery committed to bringing the very best out of the vineyard.

Today the property is planted to cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, malbec cabernet franc, chardonnay and semillon. A small amount of merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec are now added to the flagship cabernet sauvignon.

The Fraser Gallop Estate Cabernet Merlot, which retails for around $20, is often singled out as one of the best value cabernet merlots in Australia. James Halliday scored the 2008 vintage 94 points and offered the following praise:

Excellent hue: an altogether superior wine, displaying both varietal and regional typicity: blackcurrant, cassis, black olive, quality oak and balanced savoury tannins all play their part. (Australian Wine Companion, 4 July 2009)

In 2009 the winery introduced a Bordeaux-style semillon sauvignon blanc, the Parterre Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. Otto worked with Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier in Graves to learn more about the signature Bordeaux white blend.

Partially barrel fermented with wild yeasts in new French oak, the two thirds semillon blend Parterre spent around nine months on lees – all techniques designed create a wine that is the antithesis of the usual fruit driven, drink now style of Margaret River semillon savignon blanc. The food-friendly Parterre has added layers of complexity, a voluptuous texture, excellent structure and great ageing ability. Gary Walsh of the Wine Front called the 2009 vintage “a viable alternative to Chardonnay.” (The Wine Front, 29 June 2010)

Yes, definitely a winery with lots to talk about!

Merrill Witt, Editor


Photo Credit: Fraser Gallop Estate