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Australia

    My Column

    VOYAGER ESTATE: EXCELLENCE THROUGH ORGANICS IN 2020.

    2020 IS VOYAGER ESTATE’S FIRST FULLY CERTIFIED ORGANIC VINTAGE AND THE VINEYARDS (AND THE WINES) HAVE NEVER LOOKED BETTER.  GRAPES, SPIDERS, WINES AND VERY HEALTHY VINES.

    I was standing in the barrel room at Voyager early on a Friday morning at the end of January, discussing the 2020 vintage in progress over a coffee with winemaker Steve James. Winemaker Travis, poked his head out of the lab and said “Steve, you want to take a look at this.”  He passed him a small bottle of chardonnay juice.  “It’s already at 12.8 baume”.  As Steve tasted it, he raised his eyebrows and sort of chuckled to himself.  “You know,” he said, turning to me “we normally pick this block a week later than the others.  Looks like it’s pretty much ready to go now – we haven’t finished picking the other blocks yet.”

    The end of the grape growing season in January 2020 brought with it fiery devastation and destruction to many parts of Eastern Australia, affecting even those areas that the flames did not physically touch.  The vineyards in Western Australia were spared major catastrophe in the form of fire, but the season has been relentlessly hot, nevertheless.   On the 16th of November 2019, the temperature hit 40.4C as Perth endured the hottest November day since records began. Not two weeks later on the back of the record-breakingly hot November, the temperature again climbed to 41.6 degrees celsius just after midday on Tuesday the 3rd of December, eclipsing the previous record of 40.4C on December 5, 1977.  Needless to say: it’s been a warm start to the 2020 vintage, and we were reminded of that, last Friday morning, with the earlier ripening of the chardonnay block.

    We spent that morning walking up and down rows of vines, tasting fruit at various stages of ripeness, and discussing the multitude of clonal trials that are underway.  Perhaps the most interesting and ground-breaking shift in relation to winery and vineyard practices is the move to fully certified organic from 2020.  The certification process began in 2017, however 2020 is the first vintage where both fruit and wine coming off the property is organic.  The vineyards look really good for it.  Healthy inter-row life, plenty of spiders, bugs and little insects ticking and clicking through the vines.  It was buzzing with life and energy, and being there on that warm but overcast morning, I could not think of one reason in the world not to be organic.

    The move to organics has been a long process, but one that seems to have yielded a wonderful natural balance in both the vineyard and the wines.  It’s pretty much imbued in what everyone is doing and saying there – it’s already woven into the reality of the place.

    While we were in the winery I noticed some (very) big (and good and fancy looking) concrete fermenters in the corner of the room.  They were Nico Velo tanks used at Chateau Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux.  “We had a local guy make one up for us [a replica] in stainless steel, to work out what the difference in material would make to the finished wine.  We found that the rough surface of the concrete captures miniscule pockets of air that are absorbed into the wine from a very early stage.  This seems to help soften the tannins and help with poise at the end of the day.  That coupled with the fact that the sheer thermal mass of the concrete helps to regulate the temperature without the need for heating/cooling, like the stainless requires.”

    So, onto the wines and vines.  It wasn’t just chardonnay and cabernet that I was interested to learn about in the context of Voyager (although I’ll admit, the wines they make from these varietals are easily their best); it was the shiraz and the various Rhone Valley clones they are working with, the sauvignon gris (the only vineyard in Margaret River to have planted the variety), the chenin blanc and the merlot. Raise your eyebrows at merlot if you will, however this was a variety that made a very big impression on me.  The usual clone forms a tighter bunch of berries.  The varietal flavours are faint and likely it does more to enhance the palate texture rather than fruit characters of the wine.  They have a second, Italian clone of merlot planted approximately 7 years ago at the property.  This fruit looks vastly different, and hangs in a much looser, almost straggly, uneven way.  Tasting the fruit (and looking at it), even unready as it was, was a revelatory experience and I did not expect to say that about merlot any time soon.  It had fine phenolic texture, a burst of raspberry fruit at the front of the palate and rounded out to a spicy cocoa character.  I have always been taught to look for this character in merlot, but have never seen it as clearly in Australian merlot as I did that day – certainly it changed my opinion of its future success as a standalone variety.

    Back in the winery, we tasted through the current wines.  The clarity with which those vineyard blocks speak through the wines is astounding.  The Broadvale Block 6 Chardonnay, for example, is made from Clone 95 chardonnay; not the typical Gin Gin clone.  It has a much more pronounced and zingy acid line and a character which I could only describe as lime blossom.  It’s leaner and brighter than the Gin Gin.  The berries are thinner skinned and bigger (making another point of difference, in texture, to Gin Gin), with a shorter optimal picking window.  This clone is always put through full malo (the acid can handle it) and the resulting wine shoots straight across the centre of the palate – it is structured and almost linear – perfectly ordered, a perfectionist if a person.

    The Broadvale Block 5 Gin Gin clone is all about textural flow. Raised on full solids and aged in lower toast barrels than those of the Broadvale Block 6 wine. The full power of the clone is made apparent on the palate – it is fuller, chewier, more concentrated.  If this clone had a shape in the mouth, it’d be like a comet – all power and glory up front, with a long lingering tail as it goes by.  (It is advisable not to get too attached to this individual bottling, the 2018 is the final year where it sees its own label.)  Both wines go through the same winemaking process; wild ferment and no fining, albeit tailored oak to match the different attributes of each.  Together, they make the Voyager Estate Chardonnay.  It is a blend of the 95 and Gin Gin clones, and the ultimate example of a ‘perfect sum of parts’.

    Seeing each clone expressed so eloquently in their individual bottlings only serves to make the Estate wine more beautiful.  It’s a fantastic intersection of contribution.  A balancing act of texture through the palate, power and finesse, and purity of fruit expression.  Looking ahead to a barrel sample of the Estate Chardonnay 2019 showed a wine that was already integrated and uniform.  The 2019 MJW from barrel had been blended only the week prior – a 60% / 40% blend of Block 6 and Block 5 respectively.  Already the edges between clones were blurred, the wine purely representative of that vineyard site on top of the hill and the soil it grows on.  Pretty exciting stuff if you ask me.

    We moved on to the cabernets and again, each component has its own individual bottling.  Perhaps I might have thought this method convoluted prior to this tasting (I didn’t actually, I hadn’t considered it, but I might have, had it been suggested to me), however after the experience with the chardonnays, and having been to the vines and tasted the berries, I could not have been more ready for it.

    The 2015 North Block U12 (‘U’ here stands for Ullingers) has an elongated, pinot-esque elegance about it.  Structured and silky.  The fruit has a real darkness with hints of cocoa, cassis and raspberry (all of which were evident in the berries).  “This vineyard has produced top shelf cabernet from day one” says winemaker Jimmy Penton.  There are rivulets of flavour running through this wine.  It is perfumed and persistent, the tannins are like finely crushed gravel. I have to say, some vineyards really have a personality to them… and this one was, just, different somehow. The breeze that whipped through it was the essence of coastal (let’s call it roughly 6-6.5kms from the Indian Ocean) and the vines looked… energetic, somehow.  Anyway, if you’re with me or not, the wines carried that vineyard feeling into the glass.

    The 2015 Old Block V9 (Voyager old block, from the original plantings from 1978 - 42 years ago) cabernet was fragrant from almost a metre away, rhubarb and mulberry with salted heirloom tomatoes.  The wine was balanced and restrained with incredible power, in only an older-vine-can-produce kind of way.  I asked Jimmy about the tannin structure in the Voyager Cabernets, because as far as I am concerned, this is really one of the defining characters of their house style.  They are uniquely soft and fine, while providing sure structure and palate shape.  They are recognisable and they are intriguing.  “We keep the ferments cold, and we don’t push them too hard, too early. There is a slower release of finer tannins with the cold, but we don’t cold soak.  We’re chasing perfume and texture” said Jimmy.

    Both wines see 50% new French oak, and 50% 2 year French oak.  Which leads us to the 2015 Estate cabernet.  First of all, this wine is the first to feature the first crop of that intriguing little Italian merlot clone (4%, but its presence is felt). As with the chardonnay, this Estate cabernet is a blend of the two single bottlings: ~60% U12 and ~30+% of the V9, 4% merlot.  The wine is cohesive, plush, balanced and complete.  It has that finesse from the Old Block V9 fruit, and the elegance and flavour from Ullingers.  And the tell-tale Voyager tannins: firm, fine, seamless and omnipresent.

    Steve James started his wine career in viticulture, “I’m a viticulturist who learned winemaking, usually it’s the other way around.”  This made perfect sense to me when we were walking those vineyard rows.  He looks at every vine, touches leaves, tastes fruit, and talks about the clones and blocks with total authority and knowledge.  Both he and Jimmy have been at the winery for a very long time. The consistency of custodianship shows in the wines.

    You want a dynamic and excellence-focused winery that is actively investing in not only perfecting the current wines but exhibiting an impressive single-mindedness when it comes to safeguarding its qualitative future?  Don’t we all.  Voyager Estate.

     

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    My Today

    In the spirit of tasting wine at home in these crazy, turbulent times of 2020, I am lucky enough to be facing off with a most unique trio of wines.  Nic Peterkin of L.A.S. Vino in Margaret River has ventured into a very (very) interesting space and has made three iterations of the same base wine.  One lot of Pinot Noir rose split into three barrels.  One fermented using wild, indigenous yeast.  The Natural Ferment.  Another inoculated with the yeast of the Corymbia calophylla flower.  The White Flower Ferment.  And a third fermented with the yeast of the Grevillea banskii flower.  The Red Flower Ferment. Nothing gets me going more than a dive into the specifics of variation - no more so, as a keen gardener, than in this case - why does this taste the way it does.  Does it taste any different.  How.  YES. We, in Western Australia, are so fortunate to live in such a biologically diverse environment and while we frequently look to Europe for flavour inspiration we are actually drowning in options right here - we just have to look.

     

    LAS Vino Flower Ferments, Pinot Noir Rose 2019

    Natural Ferment

    Creamed red cherry, pomegranate, red apple skin, strawberry…. Brioche, cheese cloth and spice.  Pink peppercorn and… star anise?   The Natural Ferment, as is the same for the White and Red Flower Ferments, spent a year in oak after fermenting (wild, with natural yeasts) for five months - it is dry and creamy, far from sweet, yet deeply satisfying in a plush, luxurious kind of way.  Generous and full, it is complex and reminiscent of Champagne in that it is textural, layered and complex.  This is rose turbo charged.  It isn’t restrained, it’s bursting at the seams with flavour and texture and exciting things [and for the first time in a long time I really really really want to drink it for fun, not for work.]  This is seriously good, an equal match to an intricately flavoured meal made from native Australian ingredients.  YES… Big yes. 96/100

     

    White Flower Ferment Corymbia calophylla 

    This has a slightly greener nose: greener in the way that lychees and apples and honeydew melons speak of green.  There is still the summer raspberry, white pepper and Christmas cherry, but the White Flower Ferment does not exist on a singular plane of flavour.  The palate has an electrifying tone; a very clear and pristine note of flower, bud and life.  It’s hard to put my finger on it… but there is a fruit tingle lift, a sherbet fizz to the acidity. There is energy and bounce.  Where the Natural Ferment is serious, this is memorable and unique and pretty.  It is tension and energy.  The White Flower Ferment was fermented with the indigenous yeast of the Coymbia calophylla flower – it then spent a year in oak. The oak gives it textural complexity and ‘plump’. When I think of the delicate visual burst of the Corymbia calophylla flower (the Marriwood blossom, which the winemakers in Western Australia rely on for their protection from hungry Silvereyes) it’s right for the flavours of this wine: many, pretty, moving.  The meaning of ‘calophylla’ is Greek: calo (or cali), meaning beautiful and phyllon; leaf.   95/100

     

    Red Flower Ferment Grevillea banskii

    None of the green glints on the nose, this is balanced in its display of energy, youth and brightness.  An interesting intersection of the two wines, I’m delighted to have tried them in this order.  The middle of two extremes, the balance of ying and yang – the Red Flower Ferment contains all the seriousness and calm of the Natural Ferment, combined with the youth, vitality and tension of the White Flower Ferment.  Made in the same way as the Natural and White Flower Ferments, the Red Flower Ferment was fermented with the indigenous yeast of the Grevillia banksii flower and aged for a year in oak.  Perhaps softer and plusher than the White Flower, if only on the mid palate. The native Australian bush the Grevillea banskii is one of the best plants to put in the ground in your garden if you want to attract birds, insects and life.  Apt, if you consider the calm, stoic vitality of this beautiful rose. 94/100

     

    If I had to guess at these blind I would not be guessing Australia, something about the fruit profile sits mid-palate and plumes through the finish, taking this very definitely into European territory for me.   Fascinating, given the extremely local origin.

     

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    Me

    Independent wine writer, wine show judge, wine list judge, event host and wine nerd. Always pursuing some kind of award, scholarship, degree or project. Forever tasting and working. Especially keen if the tasting concerns WA wines, or Champagne. 

    From Perth, Western Australia.  

     

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    Pro Me

    Erin Larkin is a Perth-based independent wine writer. She works as a wine judge at up to four wine shows throughout the year each year and is a wine-list judge for the Australia Wine List of the Year awards for Gourmet Traveller Wine, and the China Wine List of the Year – 2020 will be her seventyear for both competitions. Erin has completed her WSET Levels 1, 2 and 3 and has the Diploma in front of her. State finalist for the Working with Wine Fellowship for three years running (2012 – 2016, now run triennially), and state finalist for the Vin De Champagne Award Professional section (bi-annual). She has spent more than a few years on radio-station 6PR on Saturdays talking wine and has had regular weekly wine columns at both The Western Suburbs Weekly and the Post, add to that commissioned pieces for The Wine Companion Magazine, Winestate and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Erin hosts several wine events weekly at an upmarket wine store/restaurant in Cottesloe (by the beach in Perth) covering a broad range of areas, wine styles and producers. 

    Digital Marketing Coordinator for the independant retail Liquor Barons Group, Group Buyer prior to that, and the first ever female member of the Lake Karrinyup Country Club Wine Group (est 1980).  Erin has presented brackets by invitation at the Cullen International Chardonnay Tasting, the Cape Mentelle Cabernet Tasting, and the inaugural Chenin Blanc Symposium 2019. She is determined to nail a number of national scholarships over the coming years – the Len Evans Tutorial, the Vin De Champagne Award, Working with Wine Fellowship to name a few.  

    Erin has a number of big projects underway in 2020.

    “Life is too short for bad wine, and too long to spend it doing something you don’t love.”

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    Digital Me

    erinlarkin.com.au

     

     

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a wine moment

“Henschke Hill of Grace 2015 / "From a single vineyard in the Eden Valley, wherein the original ancestor vines are over 160 years old. The nose is curious and laden with interwoven spices and flavours like freshly ground coffee, nutmeg, dried star anise, black pepper, whispers of cinammon sticks, lashings of cassis, raspberry, grilled blueberry, crushed slate (moving to a cap gun minerality space) and so much more. A myriad of different colours, flavours and spices here… they morph and change with the more swirling and sniffing that I do. On the palate the wine deep dives into the depths of ripe berry fruit, charcuterie, salted red tomatoes and saturating, quenching raspberry concentrate. This moves into pomegranate and mariposa plum, glides over salted and grilled Adriatic figs and settles on something elegant, salty, fine and exciting. This has finesse and power, energy and restraint, all couched in a most intense capsule of flavour and concentration. The acidity laces all these characters together, weaving in and out of the fruit, suturing the spice, oak and texture as one. A remarkable wine for now and for decades hence, although 15 or 20 would hit the sweet spot. I cannot get over how it marries lightweight body with power and concentration. It’s unbelievably impressive."
99 points”

1m 29d ago

1 Wines 1 Producers

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a wine moment

“Henschke Hill of Grace 2015 / "From a single vineyard in the Eden Valley, wherein the original ancestor vines are over 160 years old. The nose is curious and laden with interwoven spices and flavours like freshly ground coffee, nutmeg, dried star anise, black pepper, whispers of cinammon sticks, lashings of cassis, raspberry, grilled blueberry, crushed slate (moving to a cap gun minerality space) and so much more. A myriad of different colours, flavours and spices here… they morph and change with the more swirling and sniffing that I do. On the palate the wine deep dives into the depths of ripe berry fruit, charcuterie, salted red tomatoes and saturating, quenching raspberry concentrate. This moves into pomegranate and mariposa plum, glides over salted and grilled Adriatic figs and settles on something elegant, salty, fine and exciting. This has finesse and power, energy and restraint, all couched in a most intense capsule of flavour and concentration. The acidity laces all these characters together, weaving in and out of the fruit, suturing the spice, oak and texture as one. A remarkable wine for now and for decades hence, although 15 or 20 would hit the sweet spot. I cannot get over how it marries lightweight body with power and concentration. It’s unbelievably impressive."
99 points”

1m 29d ago

1 Wines 1 Producers

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a wine moment

“Henschke Hill of Grace 2015 / "From a single vineyard in the Eden Valley, wherein the original ancestor vines are over 160 years old. The nose is curious and laden with interwoven spices and flavours like freshly ground coffee, nutmeg, dried star anise, black pepper, whispers of cinammon sticks, lashings of cassis, raspberry, grilled blueberry, crushed slate (moving to a cap gun minerality space) and so much more. A myriad of different colours, flavours and spices here… they morph and change with the more swirling and sniffing that I do. On the palate the wine deep dives into the depths of ripe berry fruit, charcuterie, salted red tomatoes and saturating, quenching raspberry concentrate. This moves into pomegranate and mariposa plum, glides over salted and grilled Adriatic figs and settles on something elegant, salty, fine and exciting. This has finesse and power, energy and restraint, all couched in a most intense capsule of flavour and concentration. The acidity laces all these characters together, weaving in and out of the fruit, suturing the spice, oak and texture as one. A remarkable wine for now and for decades hence, although 15 or 20 would hit the sweet spot. I cannot get over how it marries lightweight body with power and concentration. It’s unbelievably impressive."
99 points”

1m 29d ago

1 Wines 1 Producers

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia) is a new member of Tastingbook.

“Independent wine writer, judge, event hostess, pen for hire and wine nerd. Always pursuing some kind of award, scholarship, degree or project. Forever tasting and working on the palate. Especially keen if the tasting concerns Western Australian wines, or Champagne. Or Barolo, or chardonnay… or pinot…”

6m 6d ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  13 Wines  from  4 Producers 

It’s not everyday you get to try wines made by someone who is… peerless.  Ed Carr is peerless in the Australian wine industry.  He is widely regarded as Australia’s greatest sparkling wine maker, and while his reputation preceded him, his wines absolutely spoke for themselves.

11m 21d ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  9 Wines  from  5 Producers 

2014 Vasse Felix Tom Cullity, Margaret River, 99 points / “The red fruits shine here.  This is incredible. Raspberry, pomegranate, red apple skins, pink peppercorns, hints of strawberry, blackcurrant, mulberry, seaweed/nori (an injection of iodine, beetroot).  The tannins are polished, like whipped egg white: chewy and sumptuous.  The flavours extend through the palate and into the length.  Very very long.  I can write long after it is gone.  Alive.  Energy.  Doesn’t want to finish, it doesn’t want to let go.  It lingers.  Great depth of flavour.  Effortlessly long.  In fact… it needs the extra linger time just to make sure its covered all of its flavours and textures.  Super fine, powerful, long, structured and delicate.  Perfect.”

If this represents where Margaret River has come to, then we are indeed in a magnificent place.

To put this into perspective: Margaret River vintage charts are pretty bland – the range is very good to exceptional.  There are ‘typical’ years, ‘plush’ years’, ‘leaner’ years, ‘warmer’ years… but they’re all good.  They all age prodigiously.  The 86’s are still alive and kicking: not bad for a wine region which at the time, was trailblazing towards a brave new wine world.  In 2017, Margaret River celebrated its 50th year, and along with it, Vasse Felix, it’s 50th vintage.  2018 sees the release of the 2014 Tom Cullity.  Perhaps one of the best cabernets to come out of Australia. Perfect.  99 points (or 19.5pts).

80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot

(Slightly more Cab than the 2013, less Malbec, the same PV)

100% basket pressed / 100% whole berry ferment / 100% wild yeast / 24 days on skins / French oak barriques 62% new, 38% 1-4 year old, 18 months / Unfined

 

1y 4m ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  19 Wines  from  1 Producers 

Penfolds Grange 2014 / 98 points / Wowee… after much (much) swirling to bring out the nose… summer florals waft out of the glass. Sun warmed pink bud jasmine, alongside charry oak and abundant red fruits… this is powerful, dense, layered and long. There is saltbush, nasturtium, crushed slate, raspberry, mulberry, red liquorice and an umami rich back-palate of hoi sin and soy, which pulls me in for another sip, more than anything else – like a curled and beckoning finger. It is restrained and closed right now; the flavours are all locked up, although there are symphonic red fruits rising already. The tannins are glossy and chewy. Grange spends 20 months in new American oak hogsheads. As Australia’s most famous luxury item, it is becoming difficult to distinguish the wine from the legend. How can it be honestly and critically reviewed when we know so much about it before we even start? It’s infallible – constructed like a Rolls Royce and priced accordingly.

1y 9m ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  10 Wines  from  2 Producers 

Since 1981 when Devil’s Lair was established, the viticultural team, under the guiding hand of Simon Robertson, has overseen a site that is visually understated, yet stunning, with a varied landscape of undulating slopes, blanketed by vines and vegetation, supported by the cool, maritime climate of Margaret River. With a keen sense of the idiosyncrasies of each block, the microclimates within the estate and the ways in which each and every vine responds in different conditions, Simon brings a sense of continuity with what was originally envisaged, what Devil’s Lair has become and what the future holds.

2y 25d ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  5 Wines  from  3 Producers 

In 2012 I opened a bottle of a the 2004 Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard – Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Shiraz (20%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).  I’ve never forgotten that bottle – it was soft and elegant, complex, spicy and wonderful. They say context is everything, and that bottle was drunk with great friends. In terms of vintages, 2003/2004 was tumultuous and varied, but the Whalebone Vineyard is on average, slightly cooler than the Coonawarra region, which in that season was slightly cooler than average.  So.  I’m sorry I didn’t buy more bottles, and open them over the following years.  From that night grew a great affection and wandering interest in Tapanappa. 

 

2y 3m ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  9 Wines  from  1 Producers 

"2013 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay – This year, the label features the artwork of Tim McMonagle, entitled 'A Fixed Address (fish & marron)'. Previous releases have been true to the established Leeuwin chardonnay style: Rich, intense, powerful and full. The 2011 was a slight deviation in their modern era style, where Leeuwin released a leaner, finer and more spiced chardonnay. The 2012 was spiced, round, tertiary and rich. The 2013 is a continuation of this more fruit/mineral driven style, and very happy about it I am. Red currant, kiwi fruit, pink grapefruit, white peach, salted lemons, ash, white and black pepper, hints of fresh thyme, pistachio and saffron. The palate is fresh and textural – pure pleasure. Plush and ready for drinking now. This has focus, power, density and precision. It’s alive. Absolutely consistent in texture and flavour from first sip to aftertaste. Oak perfectly married to the fruit already. Paul Atwood has created a chardonnay of opulence and minerality: touché Leeuwin. Gorgeous. 96 points"

2y 10m ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  10 Wines  from  8 Producers 

Pierre Peters ‘Les Chetillons’ Blanc de Blancs 2008, 99 points /Nervously close to perfect.  I can’t think of a thing I would add or take away to this complete wine.  It is walking on a tightrope of acidity, tension, expansive minerality and restrained fruit.  There is finesse and power here at once. Devastatingly, my one and only bottle.  But worth it.  INCREDIBLE.

2y 11m ago

Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  had a tasting of  4 Wines  from  4 Producers 

Amongst the hustle, bustle and honour of our week down south, we were treated to a cabernet vertical at Cape Mentelle.

 This included the 1983 vintage: winner of the 1984 Jimmy Watson trophy – clearly well deserved and in pristine condition: 19.5 pts. Winemaker Evan Thomson and Technical Director and Head of Winemaking and Viticulture Frederique Parker Perrin took us through a flight of carefully selected vintages which were all in textbook condition. The wines showed us an evolution in style towards an elegant and long lived expression of cabernet. With such a dynasty to uphold, the current day winemakers are refining and perfecting a proven course of production- not reinventing the wheel.

Together they shed invaluable insight into their vineyards (most specifically the iconic Wallcliff vineyard from which the grapes for the cabernet are solely sourced), and the differences in growing areas in Wilyabrup. Their comments on the choice to include the 1995 due to the first time use of bird nets meant the winemakers were able to pick the grapes when they chose, and not forced to out of protection – precious information that would have taken weeks to dig out of books and past articles. The tasting formed the basis of an illustrative, informative and thrilling afternoon – and confirmed Cape Mentelle’s position as one of Margaret River’s foremost cabernet producers.

3y 4m ago

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