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History

Leeuwin Estate is one of the founding wineries of the now famous Margaret River district.

Family owned, Leeuwin Estate, one of the five founding wineries of the now famous Margaret River district of Western Australia, is under the direction of two generations who work with a team of highly skilled winemakers to consistently produce wines ranking alongside the world’s finest. In 1972, legendary Napa Valley winemaker, Robert Mondavi, identified the future site of the Leeuwin vineyard as being ideal for the production of premium wine and provided early mentorship to Denis and Tricia Horgan in the transformation of their cattle farm into Leeuwin Estate. Enjoying its first commercial vintage in 1979, Leeuwin was thrust into the international spotlight when Decanter Magazine gave its highest recommendation to the 1981 “Art Series” Chardonnay.

The international accolades have continued and Leeuwin now exports to 30 markets. The prestigious Langton’s Classification of Australian wine includes Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay in the top “Exceptional” category and amongst the iconic “Heritage five” celebrating Australia’s most exceptional, ground-breaking wines, whilst Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon is classified as “Outstanding”. Leeuwin Estate has been included in US ‘Wine & Spirits’ Magazine’s Hall of Fame in the category of ‘International Wineries of the Year’ and with point scores as high as 98/100, US ‘Wine Spectator’ has included Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnays amongst the “Top 100 Wines of the Year” on numerous occasions. Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon has been a UK ‘Decanter’ Magazine “Top 50 Wine of the Year” and a US ‘Wine & Spirits’ “Top 100 Wine of The Year”, whilst leading Australian wine commentator, James Halliday, includes Leeuwin in his ‘Top 100 Australian Wineries’.

Celebrating the combination of fine wine, food, art and music, Leeuwin features an award winning restaurant, cellardoor and art gallery. The Estate is renowned for staging spectacular events and welcoming visitors from around the world.

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Vineyards

Leeuwin’s vineyards are located in the Margaret River district of Western Australia between Cape Naturaliste in the north and Cape Leeuwin in the South. At a longitude of 115°03`41.03 E and latitude of 34°00`35.35 S, it is one of the most ancient parts of the world, formed when the continent split to produce a 100 kilometre long granitic island between the two capes. Over millennia this granitic island crumbled, and now provides the vignerons of Margaret River with ancient, nutrient rich, free draining gravel soils

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The Leeuwin vineyards are situated on the mid to low slopes of a sequence of rolling hills formed by the dissection of the Boodjidup Brook creek system that drains from east to west and to the Indian Ocean. Spanning from 47m - 85m above sea level, the undulation of the property offers numerous aspects which allow for the production of the primary varieties of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Hill slopes of the estate face west, north, east and south, with different grape varieties best suited to slopes of a particular orientation. Leeuwin’s old vine Cabernet vineyards face west and northwest producing rich and robust fruit flavours and ripe tannins at harvest. Chardonnay vineyards typically face and perform optimally on lower slopes facing west and northwest. Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, with their delicate flavours and aromas, do best on south and east facing slopes.

 

The Estate’s soils were formed from the decomposition of the underlying Pre Cambrian Granite Gneiss (of the >540 million year old Leeuwin Complex). These free draining soils are typically red brown gravelly sandy loams to sandy clay loams with lateritic iron rich pisolites scattered throughout the soil profile. Soil clay content increases down the profile to red-brown medium clay. The depth to clay subsoil varies across the vineyard but is generally deeper on the hilltops and shallower in the valleys.

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Winemaking

Winemaking is an art as well as a science; the skills of the winemaker carefully combine with technology to produce the wines that have been so highly acclaimed. Broadly following European winemaking techniques, Leeuwin is concentrating on achieving complexity, balance and longevity in its wines through a blend of modern and traditional methods.

Temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, two Butcher pneumatic presses, and a cellar of imported French oak barrels are at the disposal of the winemaker to ensure that the fruit is transformed into the intended style of wine.

 

In recent years, vine age in conjunction with meticulous work in the vineyard, an emphasis on canopy management and focusing on low to moderate yields has enabled increased concentration, balance of fruit flavours and refined tannins in Leeuwin’s red wines. Adopting a more open canopy around the fruit zone with less leaf area, ensures physiological tannin ripeness and a darker fruit spectrum at harvest. The best sites for Leeuwin’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon parcels contain very lean gravelly soils, allowing vine vigour to be naturally controlled, enhancing intensity and tannin profile. Shiraz excels inland within Margaret River, away from the Indian ocean, where night-time temperatures are cooler. The greater diurnal temperature change promotes both varietal spice and fragrance, whilst maintaining the density and richness on the palate.

 

All red parcels are individually berry sorted in the winery, which is a diligent technique that respects and nurtures all the varietal characteristics we taste and observe in the vineyard. A short period of cold soaking prior to primary fermentation in open and closed fermenters, allows all the water-based polyphenols to be released, ultimately stabilising naturally bound colour and tannin found in the skins. Gentle and frequent pumping-over with generous ingression of oxygen, polymerises tannins and begins to construct the varietal layers. Post-ferment maceration, lasting up to two weeks, fine tunes and elongates tannin structure and continues to build mouthfeel. Efficient malo-lactic fermentation in French oak barriques initiates the beginning barrel maturation, with oak derived characters enhancing each parcels complexity and structure.

 

After up to nine months of barrel ageing for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the separate parcels are classified, blended and gravitated to barrels for further maturation in French oak barriques with seasonal rackings. The percentage of new oak is between 30-50% for Art Series and 25-40% for Prelude Vineyards and Siblings, dependent entirely on the fruit content of the wine. New wines, strong in currant and plum flavours, can accept new wood readily and develop sticky-smoky notes during the maturation period. The aim is to submerge the wood flavours into the fruit structure, gradually modifying and softening the raw tannins in the new wine.

 

The withdrawal from wood and the final assemblage depends on how well the wine has developed richness and balance in barrel. It can be up to 28 months for Art Series, 20 months for Prelude Vineyards and no less than 17 months for Siblings. The wine then undergoes minimal filtration before bottling on-site. Once bottled, wines are laid down in the cool storage cellar to mature until they are ready for release.

Leeuwin’s philosophy is to produce red varietals that are true to their site; their sense of place - understanding, respecting and nurturing each varietal from vine to bottle

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Inside information

Leeuwin Estate consistently produces wines that rank with the world’s finest. Under the direction of two generations of the founding family, who work alongside a dedicated team of winemakers, Leeuwin exports to over 30 markets and is proud to be named amongst the great icon wines of the world and be firmly placed on the international stage.

Leeuwin’s Art Series Chardonnay and Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon are included in wine auction house, Langton’s, prestigious classification. With point scores as high as 98/100, US Wine Spectator has included Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnays in the editor’s annual top 100 list on numerous occasions with the 2011 vintage ranked wine #5 in 2015. The Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon has been included in UK Decanter Magazine’s Top 50 wines of the year and as a US WINE & SPIRITS Top 100 wine.

Leading Australian wine commentator, James Halliday, included Leeuwin Estate in his Top 100 Australian Wineries, writing “For long regarded as one of the very greatest producers of chardonnay in the Margaret River, and indeed the whole of Australia: this is one of the proudest family-owned estates in the country.... Leeuwin Estate is not just a chardonnay producer. Its cabernet sauvignon is of very high quality, its shiraz likewise. The second label Prelude Chardonnay is better than many higher-priced wines from other producers, and the Riesling sells out every year...Siblings Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is yet another string to the Leeuwin bow”.

“...Leeuwin Estate, one of the benchmarks, if not the reference point winery in Margaret River.”

ROBERT PARKER, THE WINE ADVOCATE, OCTOBER 2003

“Leeuwin Estate has always been my choice as Australia’s best maker of chardonnay, its wine a mixture of purity and intensity, with length and balance underwriting its greatness. And it never misses the mark.” JAMES HALLIDAY, HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION 2021

“An Australian Classic”

WINE SPECTATOR

“For long regarded as one of the very greatest producers of chardonnay in the Margaret River, and indeed the whole of Australia; this is one of the proudest family-owned estates in the country.”
JAMES HALLIDAY’S TOP 100 AUSTRALIAN WINERIES

“Leeuwin demonstrates just how great Australian fine wines can be.”

HARVEY STEIMAN, WINE SPECTATOR

Leeuwin Estate was placed in the company of the world’s most iconic producers with Wine Spectator ranking the 2011 Art Series Chardonnay as wine number 5 in the editor’s prestigious “Top 100 wines of 2014”, from the 18,000+ international wines reviewed during the year.

WINE SPECTATOR (USA), TOP 100 WINES OF 2014

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14 different wines with 57 vintages

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