Tag: Leeuwin Estate

Jul 07 2016

Leeuwin Estate Masterclass with Winemaker Phil Hutchison

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

2014 Art Series SBRecently the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown singled out “eight stellar” Western Australia producers “who are killing-it when it comes to innovation, quality and coaxing the terroir into the bottle: Cloudburst, Cullen, Frankland Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood, Peccavi, Plantagenet and Woodlands.” (Western Australia Killing-it, 4 March 2016, eRobertparker.com)

Of course, to see Margaret River pioneer Leeuwin Estate on this list is no surprise. Still owned by its founders Denis and Tricia Horgan and now under the direction of their children and grandchildren, Leeuwin Estate has enjoyed an enviable reputation for its world-class wines for over 30 years. Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, for example, lists a staggering 16 vintages, dating back to 1987, as top vintages for the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay – one of only 21 Australian wines ranked “Exceptional” in the classification.

But while Leeuwin Estate has stuck to its knitting, so to speak, by keeping the focus on what does it best – chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon – innovation is still at the forefront of their winemaking approach. Indeed, one of the highlights of a recent Vintage Cellars Double Bay Masterclass with winemaker Phil Hutchison was a single variety not usually associated with Western Australia – the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

Typically, Margaret River wineries blend sauvignon blanc with semillon to create a Bordeaux-style white wine. But the 2014 Leeuwin Estate Art Series vintage is 100% sauvignon blanc. As Hutchison explained, the sauvignon blanc grapes are actually sourced from an 18 year-old vineyard about 20 km south of Margaret River. Here the evening southerly winds dramatically cool down the nighttime temperature in the vineyards, extending the ripening period just enough to significantly lift the subtle lemon, lime and apple aromatics in the wine. Innovative winemaking techniques, like 50% … Read the rest

Feb 02 2011

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon: Art in a Bottle

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

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 … 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

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