The Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon is undoubtedly one of Western Australia’s top cabernet sauvignons. Ray Jordan of the West Australian recently singled out the Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 as the ‘Best of the Best’ of 500 wines from all over Australia selected for tasting. Here’s his review:

An opulent and densely packed cabernet from Margaret River. Just about the best yet under this label, with its deep, black fruits, dark chocolate and black olive aromas. Tannins are slightly chewy and the fine-grained oak lays a long path to a lingering finish. Excellent wine of great power and potential. (Aussie wines back in top form by Ray Jordan, Fresh Best Reds, The West Australian, 7 July 2011)

Howard Park is owned by Jeff and Amy Burch, and is one of the 12 members of Australia’s First Families of Wine. Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate recently spoke about how much he enjoys writing about family-owned wineries:

I can tell you, that as a wine writer, it is infinitely more rewarding composing a piece where an individual and/or a family are the proprietor and not a corporation. That is not to imply that the latter craft inferior wine, but rather that the lifeblood of a vineyard, the soul of a wine, is manifested and enhanced by the personality of the winemaker, the stories they have to tell, their trials and tribulations, their triumphs and disasters. It brings the words of an article to life and hopefully renders the prose more interesting to both write and read. (Keeping It In The (Australian) Family by Neil Martin, The Wine Advocate, August 2010)

What I most enjoy is seeing family wineries go from strength to strength without compromising the integrity or quality of their wines. Since it was first released in 2000, the single-vineyard Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon has consistently received excellent reviews and recent vintages have been stand-outs. Up until 2006 the wine was made by Michael Kerrigan, who is now the co-owner and winemaker for the very highly rated Hay Shed Hill Wines. Since 2007, Genevieve Mann has had responsibility for the Margaret River wines.

Established in 1986, Howard Park has wineries in both the Margaret River and Denmark, a sub-region of the Great Southern. The Howard Park Leston vineyard, named after Jeff’s late father Leston Burch, is located in the Wilyabrup valley appellation of Margaret River. Organic and biodynamic farm practices are being integrated into vineyard management and yields are deliberately kept low to achieve concentration in the grapes. After fermentation is complete, the cabernet sauvignon is pressed off into French oak barriques of which about 60% are new, the balance being one year old. The wine is then matured in barrel for approximately 18 months.

The 2003 and 2004 vintages are available on the Cellarit Wine Market. $42 each.