Wines from Margaret River have amassed over 300 medals in two of the world’s most influential wine competitions, Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine & Spirits Challenge.

Decanter is one of the world’s largest and most influential wine competitions, in which two Margaret River wines were named amidst fifty ‘Best of Show’, from over 18,143 wines from 57 countries that were judged. Congratulations to Fermoy Estate 2020 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Stella Bella Wines 2022 Luminosa Chardonnay on these coveted titles. Margaret River wines one 95 medals in this competition, including 13 Golds, listed below.

Decanter World Wine Awards Gold Medals

Judging for the International Wine & Spirits Competition returned to Margaret River in early June, with a unique set of judges from around the world descending upon the region. From 300 wines judged, an impressive 240 medals were awarded, 11 gold medal wines are listed below, which will be judged against an international set later in 2024 to contend for trophies as the best of their kinds in the world.

International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) Gold Medals

Western Australian wine expert and incredible statistician John Jens rounded up the Decanter scores over recent years as “extra-ordinary”, saying:

“WA won 4 of the 19 Chardonnay “Best of Show” awards in the five [Decanter] shows between 2020 and 2024, against the entire wine world – 21%. WA’s Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blends won 4 of 7 “Best of Show” awards in the three shows between 2022 and the just released 2024 results against the world – 57%!

That is, WA’s Cabernet dominant blends, all from Margaret River, have won 4 of the 7 “Best of Show” awards given to this variety or blend, from anywhere in the world, including Bordeaux, in the three most recent Decanter World Wine Awards.”

 

From 3 July, fifteen dynamic and skilled members of the Margaret River grape and wine community will embark on the Next Crop program, which aims to empower emerging leaders within the region to enhance their leadership capacity for their businesses and our overall regional development.

The professional and personal development program, funded by Wine Australia and industry, will deliver a series of regionally tailored sessions for emerging leaders who want to understand their leadership capacity and gain exposure to concepts of leadership. The clear objective is to build confidence and provide a development opportunity that will keep the future generation engaged and committed to the region and their career in the grape and wine sector.

Margaret River Wine Association Chief Executive Officer Amanda Whiteland said having this program in the region is really exciting.
‘Our pitch to secure this leadership program funding was based on our relative isolation, limited wine industry-specific tertiary programs and the need to increase diversity, pass on skills, retain the next-generation and compete with the mining industry’s drawcard. We are really pleased to be able to offer this program.’

‘The 15 participants selected for the Next Crop program come with diverse experiences and backgrounds from across the sector. It will be exciting to see what they gain from this program.’

The Wine Australia Next Crop Margaret River 2024 participants are:

On learning of her selection in this year’s program, Ellin Tritt, winemaker at Fraser Gallop Estate said, ‘As part of the Next Crop program, I hope to refine skills I have already developed; along with learning new ways to engage, lead and contribute to the Australian wine community in a meaningful way.’

Daniel Stocker, Assistant Vineyard Manager at Juniper Estate said ‘The Margaret River region has been served incredibly well, over more than 50 years, by a succession of wonderful leaders. Programs like this provide an awesome opportunity to work with a group of engaged, passionate and talented wine professionals to build on their legacy and drive our region forward.’

Gavin Crawcour, Brand Manager at Voyager Estate said he was excited to see the journey unfold over the next six months with what looks to be a highly considered and immersive program. ‘It’s a fantastic opportunity to challenge myself and grow, but also to connect with like minds in our industry.’

Swings & Roundabouts General Manager Natasha Lynch said ‘Securing a place in the next crop program is pivotal for my career growth. This will not only enhance my strategic leadership capabilities within my business but also contribute positively to the advancement of the Margaret River wine industry as a whole.’

Since 2021, the Wine Australia Next Crop program has been offered to two regions per year. It allows selected regions to design and deliver their own bespoke leadership development program. It is a three-way partnership between Wine Australia, regional partners, and a provider organisation.

Wine Australia Next Crop Margaret River 2024 is funded by Wine Australia, supported by Margaret River Wine Association and will be delivered by Eloise Jarvis of Margaret River Wine Solutions and Tash Teakle of Innovation Cluster with guest speakers who will be invited to present specific topics.

Meet the makers behind some exciting small-batch labels in the Margaret River Wine Region, who, whilst honouring the region’s hero grape varieties, are challenging the boundaries with new wine styles and approaches. Wines of Merritt are single vineyard wines, made with minimal intervention and no filtering or fining. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are some of the varieties within the range. We chatted to Nick James-Martin, one half of Wines of Merritt, to discover some more about the label.

What about your approach that makes your wines unique?

We like to take a low intervention approach to our winemaking. Sourcing fruit from farmers that keep sustainability to the fore means we have a great platform with which to work. Preferring native yeast and building layers of complexity in the winemaking process, results in wines with quality, personality and that are true to texture.

What is your favourite Margaret River ‘alternative’ style to make and why?

Chenin Blanc is a joy to make and consume. It is a variety bursting with freshness, elegance and vivacity. The bonus that it can age into honeyed complexity if desired. It allows us to take pristine, organically-grown fruit and layer it with winemaker influence. Wild ferments in barrel, using older, subtle oak, plus lees stirring for shape and texture lets the ‘Cheniness’ of the variety to shine.

Why do you like making wine in Margaret River?

The quality of the fruit. It’s the result of a unique combination of climate, geology, a cape facing three oceans, the moderating Leeuwin current and passionate, skilled growers. It’s a wonderful starting point for making low intervention wines. And a breathtaking place to live.

Where’s your favourite place to eat in Margaret River and why?

Multiple answers depending upon occasion please? Best BYO – Teddi’s Big Spoon (Margaret River town), Best Burgers (and amazing wine list) – Settler’s Tavern (Margaret River town), Best non-wine (beer) – Servo Taphouse (Cowaramup), Best Fancy – d’sendent (Margaret River town) and Best Bar – Pearl’s Bar (Margaret River town).

Favourite nature based activity / place in the region and why?

Swimming and snorkelling at Gracetown. Beautiful, close to home and you never regret getting in the water.

Discover more from Wines of Merritt via their website.

Last Friday, over 55 volunteers from 16 wineries joined forces to assist in Revegetation and Coastal Rehabilitation works at Gas Bay, a popular surfing location south along Wallcliffe Road, past Gnarabup Beach.

With the help of volunteer leads Janet Dufall and Genny Broadhurst from the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association, the winery volunteers undertook dune erosion control works by laying Peppermint Tree Brushing and planting pigface and 220 coastal plants. This work is aimed at promoting natural regeneration, managing drainage and protecting sensitive coastal vegetation.

This year, the move to Gas Bay builds on the previous two years of volunteer work at the rivermouth of the Margaret River. Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said the Community Revegetation Day has grown into a heartwarming annual event, which has become anticipated and popular by winery teams keen to nurture the region’s natural beauty and the magic place they call home.

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region, Shire of August Margaret River, Undalup Association, and the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association supported the Margaret River Wine Association’s organisation of the day.

Mandy Edwards, Nature Conservation’s ‘Caring for Coast’ office said, “The annual coastal rehabilitation event with the Margaret River Wine Association is so enjoyable for all involved, and has a huge positive impact on our coastline. With over 60 people chipping in, including volunteers and our organisational partners, we get an incredible amount of work done in our fragile coastal dunes. Native coastal seedlings and pigface cuttings increases biodiversity, and brushing helps to stabilise bare dunes as well as protect the new small plants.”

Acting Shire President Tracey Muir said it was great to see all the volunteers come together for this coastal rehabilitation event.

“This is a fantastic, collaborative opportunity to achieve some real, on-ground outcomes for coastal conservation at one of Margaret River’s popular local beaches.”

Last summer, a fundraising evening at ‘Movies at Cape Mentelle’ generated a generous donation and funding for the event.

We are immensely grateful for the support of our volunteers, sponsors and donors. Local artisan butcher, The Farm House and Riverfresh IGA Margaret River kindly donated catering, and the Margaret River Wine Association provided the coffee van and lunch beverages.

Their generosity made this event a success and we look forward to their continued support in the future.

View photos on Facebook.

Margaret River wineries are coming to Sydney for the Good Food & Wine Show, 21-23 June. To celebrate, we have a VIP Wine Experience (valued $900+) PLUS 30 x General Admission double passes to give away for the Sydney event. Details of the VIP Experience are featured below.

How to Enter:

  1. Tag a friend on this Instagram post, who you’d like to share the VIP experience with.
  2. Make sure you are following the @Margaret_River_Wine Instagram account.
  3. Subscribe to the Margaret River Wine email newsletter via the banner at the top or bottom of this website, to receive an extra entry.
  4. Enter by 5pm AWST 19 May 2024 to be eligible for the competition.

View Terms & Conditions

 

Margaret River x Good Food & Wine Show Sydney
VIP Wine Experience Prize

One lucky winner will receive the below prize, valued at over $900.

PLUS

Discover the Wineries Coming to Sydney

In this series, we chat to the makers behind some exciting small-batch labels in the Margaret River Wine Region, who, whilst honouring the region’s hero grape varieties, are challenging the boundaries with new wine styles and approaches. La Kooki is the label of Eloise Jarvis and Glenn Goodall, 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year. Through La Kooki, they tap into, and explore their creative winemaking ideas. The resulting wines have been met with tremendous acclaim from the critics.

We caught up with Eloise, to learn more about the approach to La Kooki and in the process, collected some great local tips for exploring the Margaret River Wine Region.

 

What makes your wines unique?

We approach each season for La Kooki with a sense of opportunity, curiosity and playfulness. We don’t grow our own fruit, so whether it’s working with new blocks of fruit or varieties, we are open to the opportunities put in front of us through the connections we have with people (grapegrowers) throughout the southwest wine regions.

Curiosity and the ‘what ifs’ have resulted in some beautiful wines, such as our Boya Chardonnay, where we use stones to top the barrels and then roll them to stir the lees. Playfulness arises when opportunity gave us Vermentino and Tempranillo that we co-fermented, following whole-bunch carbonic maceration of the Vermentino for 10 days to create a light-medium bodied red, perfect for drinking chilled over summer.

Sometimes we keep it simple because it works – our Rosé Blonde made from Pinot Noir has been sourced from Thompson Estate vineyard since we started in 2017, topped and stirred each year with the previous season’s Chardonnay lees. It is proudly one of our first two Sustainable Winegrowing Australia Certified wines.

There are no rules, we follow our instincts, exploring what will work with that parcel of fruit.

 

What’s your favourite Margaret River ‘alternative’ style to make and why?

Alternative vs creative style? I don’t know that we have favourites – with each wine we aim to make them eminently drinkable.

 

Why do you like making wine in Margaret River?

What’s not to love? The maritime climate and ancient soils are perfect for grape growing. The lifestyle, community and region are even better for raising a family. We are in one of the most pristine wine regions in the world, able to grow nearly any variety we wish, surrounded by an incredibly rich biodiversity found nowhere else and an awesome coastline. And we get to make wine here? Pinch me!

 

What’s your favourite place to eat in Margaret River and why?

It depends entirely on the occasion – our deck at home is pretty awesome when the feast is fresh caught Blue Swimmer crabs, squid or abalone.

We are so lucky that there are many brilliant chefs, cafes, restaurants, taverns, and food vans that have made Margaret River home, celebrating the region’s fresh produce in many different ways. What we love even more is the support between the wine and food industries. An awesome, revolving mix of local wines can be found on all their wine lists, which I guess shows that we are all proudly Margaret River.

 

What’s your favourite nature based activity or place in the region and why?

We love the ocean, especially fishing in our tinnie and mountain bike riding together. Mr Kooki loves to surf – The Small World Wave Tour – and Mrs Kooki loves bush walks and wildflower season. The Cape-to-Cape track ticks so many of these boxes. To name a favourite is so hard – Kilcarnup Beach, Eagle Bay, Boranup Forest, Gnoocardup Beach, Hardy Inlet in Augusta, Jedi mountain bike trail…  it’s endless and they’re all good.

Fine wine, great food and good friends are always a great idea for the Easter long weekend. Or any time, really. We’ve put together the ultimate Easter pairing suggestions, featuring trophy winning wines from the Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show 2023.

Try a lesser-known oyster pair, with a bright Chenin Blanc or Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. Look for styles with crisp natural acidity and delicate fruit, like Xanadu Vinework Chenin Blanc 2023 or Wills Domain Mystic Spring Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2023. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends are also great with white fish, such as barramundi, or seafood like calamari. Trophy winners, Lenton Brae Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2023 or Mandoon Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2023 are a great match.

Enjoy pan-seared scallops? Pair with Stella Bella Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022, recommended by the winery itself, with the juicy scallop flesh balancing the palate weight of Margaret River’s elegant, yet powerful style.

Treat yourself with Smoked Trout and a fresh, dry Rosé, like McHenry Hohnen Chloe Rosé 2023. The saltiness of the smoking connects this pairing beautifully.

When it comes to poultry, you’ll absolutely want to look for a Margaret River Chardonnay. It’s a classic match and will be amazing with any Chardonnay from the region. If you’re looking for ideas, trophy winner Snake & Herring Primary Chardonnay 2022 is a great place to start.

For the classic Easter roast, it’s hard to go past a Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, with its red to black berry fruits and pretty savoury characters, akin to rosemary, sage and more. There are countless amazing options to select from, including these trophy winners; Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2021, Abbey Vale Premium RSV Cabernet Sauvignon 2022 and Mandoon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2022. The plum, pepper, spice dimension of a Margaret River Shiraz will also work a treat for this pairing, such as trophy winner Credaro 1000 Crowns Shiraz, 2022.

Finally, for a deluxe salted dark chocolate pair, perhaps hunt down the Swings & Roundabouts Brash Road Syrah 2022.

Enjoy!

 

In this series, we chat to the makers behind some exciting small-batch labels in the Margaret River Wine Region, who, whilst honouring the region’s hero grape varieties, are challenging the boundaries with new wine styles and approaches. South by South West Wines was shortlisted as ‘Dark Horse Winery’ in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Awards, and winner of the ‘People’s Choice Award’ in the 2019 Young Gun of Wine.

Livia Maiorana shares a little more about the philosophies of South by South West Wines and their love of Margaret River, as well as some tips about highlight activities within the region.

What about your approach makes your wines unique?

I guess for us, unique is more so about our approach. I think winemakers are all striving to produce quality wines made form nature’s lottery (climate, sun, water). Every vineyard and winemaker has a philosophical matter, but in the end all the stars must align for the magic to happen, and it’s the magic that we are all trying to make in our own way.

For us, the magic is all in producing honest wines which tell stories to express its origins and ethos. Authentic wines that respect the land, are sustainably farmed and made, rationally and humbly handled in the winery, honourable to vintage and true to the region. We want anyone drinking our wine to pick up a natural charm, that only inspired farming practices and sensitive, thoughtful winemaking can deliver.

Favourite Margaret River ‘alternative’ style to make and why?

Our favourite ‘alternative’ style we make and are known for is probably our play on a Super Tuscan style we make and have endearingly called ‘ Super Margs’. The ‘Super Margs’ is the wunderkind of our portfolio. It’s a style that breaks ranks and gives a Margaret River nod to the old world maverick Tuscan winemakers. Stylistically, this wine celebrates and heroes Sangiovese, whilst linking the soul and tradition of the Margaret River region with Cabernet Sauvignon. It smells like Margaret River, so there is the link right up front, but transports you to Italy with a playful acid line and some rustic tannins.

Why do you like making wine in Margaret River?

Simple, Margs is a grape growing paradise! Being one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world comes with a heap of benefits!

The wild (but pristine) natural environment lends itself to lower disease pressures and minimal intervention farming, due to the strong maritime influence on the mediterranean climate, the ancient gravelly soils, and a long, dry ripening season. The fact you can grow grapes organically/biodynamically and sustainably in the region is amazing to us, and the future of the region.

Theoretically, it is all of those things mentioned above, however practically, I guess fundamentally for us it is equally about the dynamic winemaking community that exists here. There are classical winemakers and winemaking, intermixed with a new generation bringing fresh energy and contemporary approaches to these classical styles, as well as exploring alternative varietals, styles and expressions.

It’s this juxtaposition of Margaret River that we find so damn sexy. Wines from ancient soils, but modern winemaking. Wines that are powerful, but elegant. Traditional, but contemporary. Serious but fun. We are all about that!

Favourite place to eat in Margaret River and why?

There are too many great places to eat within the Margaret River region. Choosing one is just too hard. To be honest though, our favourite place to eat is probably at our house, which overlooks part of the magical Margaret River. There is something special about being able to hunt and source seasonal food from the region and cook it up yourself. With a local glass of Chardonnay, you can’t beat fresh crays or abalone you have dived for, or marron you have snared!

Favourite nature based activity or place in the region and why?

That is a tough one as there are so many! It’s hard to go past surfing one of the many awesome breaks in the region, but just going for a swim in the River (or a walk around it in winter) at the end of the day and floating/walking amongst the Marri trees and wildlife is hard to top.

The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) is bringing its international awards back to Margaret River.

Following the success of its inaugural Oceanic-based judging in Margaret River in 2023, the IWSC is delighted to announce it will be taking another new panel of international experts to Margaret River to judge local Western Australian wines in June 2024. The IWSC’s stringent judging process will take place, however producers will benefit from convenient, local delivery and the opportunity to bring their wines to the global stage.

This year, the Global judging will be open to all wines from all regions of Western Australia.

IWSC’s CEO, Christelle Guibert commented, “Following the huge success of last year’s Global Judging in Margaret River, we are delighted to once again be shining the spotlight on this award-winning boutique wine region. Our expert judges, that made up last year’s panel, were very impressed by the quality of Margaret River wines that they judged, the wines showed complexity and represented a variety of styles while maintaining a distinctive regional character. We look forward to showcasing even more wines as this year we open up the judging to all Western Australian wines.”

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said that having one of the world’s most highly regarded international wine competitions coming to Margaret River last year provided great exposure for the region’s wines, culture and geography.

“We believe that bringing retailers, sommeliers and media to the region is the best way to give them a comprehensive understanding and lasting impression of our wines.

“Everything is tasted blind, and the final results speak for themselves. There were 24 gold medals awarded during 2023’s Global judging, and 4 of the overall global wine trophies awarded in London were for Margaret River wines, the highest of any region in the world.

Cherubino Wines also won the ‘Outstanding Wine Producer of the Year Trophy’, and Cape Mentelle won the ‘Old Vines Trophy.’  It was a fantastic result that we hope to replicate again this year,” said CEO Amanda Whiteland.

The IWSC team of international judges will be fully immersed in the Margaret River Wine Region as they join local Australian judging experts, who will be announced in the following weeks. The judging will take place from 4 – 7 June 2024, and the medal results will be announced the following week on 10 June 2024.

Entry to the IWSC’s Wine Judging in Margaret River is open now and it will close on 7 May 2024.

View IWSC’s Margaret River Global Judging page here.

This initiative is proudly supported by WA Wines to the World; an industry-led Export Growth Partnership coordinated by Wines of Western Australia, co-funded by DPIRD.

Introducing Megan Smythe from Passel Estate, she has worked in the Cellar Door for just over five years.

Megan moved to Margaret River from Perth because of her love for the stunningly beautiful region. Working in the wine industry seemed inevitable as she already had a love for wine and a thirst to learn more about such an interesting industry.

We chatted with Megan and asked her to share a few things with us.

What is your favourite varietal and why?

Chardonnay, I love the versatility of the grape. Having a lovely glass of Chardonnay at the end of the day or pairing it with my favourite foods is just bliss.

What is your favourite food & wine pairing?

Well obviously it has to be Chardonnay! I really enjoy an aged Chardonnay and I am currently drinking a 2017 Passel Estate Museum Chardonnay, this pairs beautifully with a lovely roast chicken with fresh herbs.

Where is a hidden gem in the region to visit?

Ellenbrook Road, I love driving along this road from Cowaramup in all seasons. Seeing the dairy cows grazing after milking, the lambing season in action, beautiful tall trees providing an important fauna corridor and rows of vines all the way down to Ellenbrook House, which has a lovely walk trail and a pristine beach.

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?

Planning ahead and pre-booking to avoid disappointment and missing out on your wish list of things to do.

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special.

The stunning coastline, the beautiful forests, the strong cultural influence, the people and their passion for wine and enjoying life!

Discover more about Passel Estate.

This is Paris Hokin from Arlewood Estate.

Paris has been at working at the Cellar Door for 7 years, but her connection to Arlewood runs deep having lived on the estate for a decade. Not only does she manage the Cellar Door, she is hands on in the vineyard and winemaking as well! She was also the recipient of the 2020 Margaret River Wine Cellar Door Excellence Award.

We caught up with Paris and asked her to share a few things with us.

How did you get into the wine industry?

I worked in the Perth hospitality scene from a young age. Thankfully, I had some inspirational peers who encouraged me to try different Western Australian wine brands with them each week. It was when I was working in fine dining as an apprentice chef, that I developed a passion for high end wines, whilst cooking with WA produce. It was a really exciting time in my late teens/early 20’s, finishing a long shift in the kitchen and sitting down to talk to the restaurant sommelier and taste some incredible vintages that I wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise. When I moved to Margaret River in 2014, I applied for a position as cellar door host at a small winery in Wilyabrup. Fast forward 10 years, I hold a Diploma in Viticulture and have completed the course Manage a Wine Making Process at Margaret River TAFE.

What is your favourite varietal and why?

Early on it was all about dry Rieslings, now medium weight, aged Chardonnays and anything Nebbiolo. I like the intricacy and layers of wine. I love drinking aged whites and reds, for their mouthfeel and the influence from careful oak selection.

What is your Favourite Food & Wine Pairing?

Chocolate and wine pairings of course! My favourite is milk chocolate with Turkish Delight, raw coconut and almonds, paired with a rich red Bordeaux blend.

Where is a hidden gem in the region to visit?

Hands down, Eagles Heritage.

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?

Our Margaret River wine industry is so tightly connected, I think the people and their stories make this region so special. I think the longevity of the founding wine brands should be celebrated, as well as the succession and evolution that the next generation can bring to a wine brand. Our visitors become part of the framework of our brands and to include them our journey is extraordinary.

Last night, the local community gathered to celebrate Vintage 2024 and welcome seasonal workers, including those from Timor Leste, Fiji and Tonga, who are in the Margaret River Wine Region to work vintage on our wineries, vineyards and in tourism.

The gathering of over 250 people began with a warm Welcome to Wadandi Boodja, with lots of heart, was performed by Wadandi Pibulmum Elder, Dr. Wayne Webb and custodian Zac Webb. This was followed by a Smoking Ceremony, to cleanse and purify the spirit, body, and soul, signifying the beginning of something new.

While another quality vintage is already underway in Margaret River, the Pioneer Park Amphitheatre in Cowaramup was a perfect central and shady location for locals to bring a picnic blanket and immerse themselves in the cultural diversity that make the region truly special at vintage time, beginning with soulful music by local musicians, The Nomadics.

The Nomadics also played their wonderful song, ‘Wadandi Boodja’, which was nominated for a WAM Song of the Year award in the folk category in 2021, whilst the community body painted ochre and bathed in the smoke. 

With the support of Wadandi Elders and Cultural Custodians, this song has become an anthem in Woodichup Bilya / the Margaret River, with each line sung in both Wadandi and English. It is a fabulous offering to strengthen language and love/koorda for boodja/country. 

Representing the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Community Connections Program, Tika Baxter invited attendees to make the PALM workers feel welcome through sports and cultural activities, as they often spend many years away from their families.

The crowds were blessed with a traditional dance and song by over twenty workers from Timor Leste, employed by South West Labour Solutions over the last nine months, who have been actively involved in all aspects of the Margaret River viticulture industry. 

Mr Martinho represented the group and presented Indigenous Elders with a traditional tais, a cloth from East Timor, as a sign of respect to Dr Webb and his family for allowing them to dance on their country.

The evening concluded with two traditional songs, a Fijian dance performed by a crew of Fijian workers, and a presentation of a Salusalu, Fijian garland to Indigenous Elders.

The Fijian workers are also employed by South West Labour Solutions, working at Pullman Resort Bunker Bay in many aspects of the hospitality industry, including Food & Beverage, Housekeeping and Spa Treatments. 

MRWA CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “Seasonal Workers are critical in our region, particularly in viticulture, and we really appreciate the workers who are here through the PALM scheme. It can be really hard to be separated from family and live so far away in a foreign culture. It was so beautiful to see the performances by the crews from Timor Leste and Fiji, as they shared some of their culture with us tonight.”

MRBTA CEO Sharna Kearney said, ““We were thrilled that local community members and regional stakeholders came out to offer such a warm welcome to our seasonal workers. We thank Dr. Wayne Webb and Zac Webb and the Undalup Association for their enriching and informative cultural ceremony.”

2024 marks the second year this event has been held.

The event was organised by Margaret River Wine Association (MRWA) and Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association (MRBTA) and supported by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River through their Community Development and Event Grant program.

Eleven of the Margaret River Wine Region’s most collected wines have been recognised in the 8th Edition of Australia’s coveted LANGTONS Classification, released last December.

The new Classification comprises a total of 100 wines across 60 wineries, with the wines given title of ‘Classified’, reflecting their demand and performance in the secondary market, or ‘1st Classified’, reserved for a small cohort of wines representing the most desirable wines in Australia that compete with the world’s finest.

Seven Cabernet Sauvignons and four Chardonnays from Margaret River have been included in this Edition, with the special designation of ‘1st Classified’ for the Cullen Wines Diana Madeline and Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay.

To make it into the LANGTONS Classification, each wine must have been released for at least ten vintages and have a strong track record at auction.

Congratulations to these noble Margaret River wines, on their well-deserved Classifications. LANGTONS Classification has been published since the 1990s.

1st Classified

Classified

Discover more at LANGTONS.

The Margaret River Wine Region Sustainability Report was established out of a conviction to fulfil custodial responsibilities towards the region’s exceptional environment, recognising the importance of sustaining and protecting its rare biodiversity.

The report identifies key initiatives and measures, including environmental health and resilience, social responsibility, waste reduction and climate action.

A major initiative of the Margaret River Wine Association is onboarding its members into the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program and working with them to achieve certification.

This report summarises where we are here and now in 2023, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Click Here to Read the Report

Introducing Annette Milne, who has worked in the Cellar Door at Amelia Park Wines for nearly six years.

Annette has deep connections to the region, with her family being one of the first settlers in the Cowaramup area after receiving a grant to settle here in 1939. The original home where her mum was born is on part of the property, which is now Howard Park Wines.

We met with Annette and asked her to share a few things with us.

How did you get into the wine industry?

My mum worked at Sandalford Wines, one of Margaret River’s first cellar doors. She then spent time at Fermoy Estate, Q Wines and Deep Woods Estate before retiring. It was an industry that always interested me, so when my husband and I returned to the area, I completed my WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) studies and began my Cellar Door career.

What is your favourite varietal and why?

I love a Chardonnay, and lucky for me, Amelia Park produces three! A Chardonnay can be so varied from rich and buttery to fresh and light with citrus notes.

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special?

Our region has so much to offer, from wineries with world class wines, incredible food from casual to something a bit more fancy catering for all needs, special scenery and beaches that are the best in the world.

Where is a hidden gem in the region to visit?

I always take my visitors to The Berry Farm at Rosa Brook. Amazing scones can be enjoyed in the beautiful gardens with visiting Blue Wrens and Honey Eaters near your table whilst you enjoy your jam and cream.

Meet Bec Phillious; she is the Cellar Door Manager at Edwards Wines and has been working there since it opened in April.

She doesn’t have a favourite wine variety; telling us she prefers to choose her wine “depending on the day, my mood, the weather, the company, and what I’m eating!”

We caught up with Bec and asked her a few questions about working and living in the Margaret River Wine Region and what exciting events are coming up for Edwards.

What is your favourite food and wine pairing?

A bold, oaked Chardonnay with buttered popcorn because it’s fun and accessible to everyone.

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special?

Oh wow, so many things the history of our wine industry, the diversity of our region and the fact that you can go wine, spirit and beer and hiking all in one day.

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?

Save your hand luggage for wine, quality over quantity when visiting wineries, and make sure you make time to drive through Boranup.

What’s next on the events schedule at Edwards?

Oh, we have so many wonderful things planned. Upcoming members tasting events, the release of our members exclusive Ocean Series, Miss Chow’s coming in Spring 2024, our chocolate and wine pairings becoming a daily offering, serving a light platter to go with our wine by the glass, the list is pretty endless at the moment and I’m so excited about what we will have to offer!

The 2023 Langtons Margaret River Wine Show was held last week, with judging culminating in a Gala Awards Lunch at the beautifully refurbished Lenton Brae Cellar Door on Friday, 20 October.

The Stella Bella team triumphed this year, taking home a trio of trophies for the Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022, receiving Best Chardonnay, Best White Wine, and the ultimate accolade, Best Wine of Show. Stella Bella also capped off a remarkable show by being awarded the Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor.

This year is the second time the Suckfizzle Chardonnay, from Margaret River Wine Region’s most southern vineyard, has won the Wine of the Show Trophy at the Margaret River Wine Show. The Augusta vineyard is influenced by the prevailing Antarctic winds of the Southern Ocean and moderated by the warmth of the Blackwood River, creating wine of unique power and flavour.

Stella Bella Chief Winemaker Luke Jolliffe shared his excitement about the success, stating, “We are thrilled to have won four trophies. Recognition such as this for our single vineyard Suckfizzle Chardonnay is a testament to the whole team. The passion in farming our land with care and precision, through to nurturing the wine from grape to bottle shows a very special and cohesive viticultural and winemaking team. We are incredibly fortunate. And how good is Margaret River Chardonnay?

Chaired by the distinguished wine writer Nick Ryan, this year’s event included an exceptional judging panel of experts from across Australia and the highly regarded Master of Wine, Richard Hemming, from 67 Pall Mall in Singapore.

The judging, which took place on Wadandi Boodja at the Margaret River HEART, assessed a remarkable 631 entries from ninety-two exhibitors. Fifty-two wines achieved the coveted gold medal status, earning 95 points or higher on the 100-point scale. An additional 141 wines received silver medals, and 257 wines received bronze medals, adding to an impressive medal strike rate of over 71%.

Chair of Judges Nick Ryan said, “This year’s wine show has seen high expectations met and new benchmarks set. The star of the show has once again been chardonnay, further reinforcing the new reality that sees Margaret River dominate the conversation around where the world’s best chardonnay is coming from.

That cabernet sauvignon remained strong despite the challenging chickens of the 2021 vintage coming home to roost is a testament to the viticulturists and winemakers of the region, and the strong performance of semillon, sauvignon blanc and the blends thereof reminded us these styles remain really relevant here.

And the Rose’s?? Well, that’s a whole other story….suffice it to say Margaret River’s reputation as a paradise for pink wines has grown even more.”

Reflecting on the show, Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “To add a bit of fun, this year the seven Rosé gold medal-winning wines were judged ‘in their natural habitat’ at the beachside White Elephant Café in Gnarabup, overlooking the magnificent Indian Ocean.  The Rosé Trophy went to the McHenry Hohnen Chloé Rosé  2023, which was a wonderful accident given vigneron Murray McHenry OAM had generously sponsored new custom-tailored P. Johnson Pink Jackets for those that missed out since 2018 as well as for a future five-years.”

Langtons 2023 Margaret River Wine Show Trophies:

Langtons Trophy for Wine of Show
Stella Bella Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022

Margaret River Wagyu Trophy for Red Wine of Show
Abbey Vale Premium RSV Cabernet Sauvignon 2022

Labelmakers Group of Companies Trophy for White Wine of Show
Stella Bella Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022

Vinline Mobile Bottling Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor
Stella Bella

Langtons Trophy for Wine of Provenance
Lenton Brae Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012, 2015, 2023

Margaret River Wine Association International Judge’s Trophy
Swings & Roundabouts Brash Road Syrah 2022

City of Busselton Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Abbey Vale Premium RSV Cabernet Sauvignon 2022

MCC Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Stella Bella Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022

Tonnellerie de Mercurey Trophy for Best Single Vineyard Red
Mandoon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2022

Sanector Trophy for Best Single Vineyard White
Snake and Herring Primary Chardonnay 2022

Cospak Saverglass Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2021

My Vintner Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc
Mandoon Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2023

Orora Trophy for Best Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
Wills Domain Mystic Spring Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2023

Burkert Trophy for Best Other White Blend or Varietal
Xanadu Vinework Chenin Blanc 2023

Fusion Electrical Trophy for Best Shiraz
Credaro 1000 Crowns Shiraz 2022

Chr. Hansen ‘Pink Jacket’ Trophy for Best Rosé
McHenry Hohnen Chloé Rosé  2023

Hahn Corporation Trophy for Best Other Red Blend or Varietal
McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard Tempranillo 2022

The Langtons Margaret River Wine Show was judged at the Margaret River HEART from Monday 16 to Wednesday 18 October 2023.  The 2023 Langtons Margaret River Wine Show full results book is available at margaretriver.wine/show-results/

The Margaret River Fine Vines Festival is a chance to savour the grape!

Held over 10 days and at various venues across the region from 20-29 October we invite you to join us on a journey of discovery.

There are plenty of events for every kind of budget. Because after all, world-class wine does not mean out-of-this-world prices.

Our region’s producers are committed to making the world of wine accessible to everyone, with offerings under $100, including intimate tastings and masterclasses to free gatherings in the name of wine.

If you’re seeking the pleasure of a wine-laden weekend without the price tag, explore our range of budget-friendly events. And scroll to the bottom of the blog for a list of ‘free entry’ events, allowing you to purchase as you go, based on your specific budget.

 

Events Under $100

Women in Wine in Witchy  Sunday 22 October

Join four of the South West wine world’s leading ladies for an afternoon of sipping and snacking in Witchcliffe. Converge on the terrace at the Witch and Windmill in Witchcliffe and enjoy high tea-inspired snacks from local artisans while you sip on small batch wines.

Cath from Arlewood, Liv and Mij from South by South West and Sharon and Alex Peters from Amato Vino will be on hand to chat through their wines and what it’s like to be a woman in wine in here the Margaret River region.

Willespie Cabernet Tasting   Saturday 21 October

Dive into forty years of sensational wine over four tastings with a grand tour through Willespie’s Cabernet Sauvignon. This unique tasting event, focusing on one single varietal, offers a robust understanding of Margaret River’s most renowned and loved grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Come to understand how a great Cabernet ages over time, as the Willespie team dive deep into their cellar, showcasing a Cabernet Sauvignon from each decade between the 1980s and now. During the tasting light lunch will be served on the balcony overlooking the Willespie vines.

 

Patisserie Meets Passel Estate Saturday 28 October

Indulge in beautifully crafted treats alongside equally beautiful wines when Maison Lassiaille teams up with Passel Estate.

Explore the lush grounds of Passel Estate through a progressive wine tasting enjoying award-winning, single-vineyard wines including the rare and exclusive Lot 71 Reserve wines and a museum vintage, all paired with decadent high tea treats with vegetarian options available.

Roam at your own pace or let owners Barry and Wendy Stimpson lead the way, all to a soundtrack of live, classical music. Dress in your most elegant garden party attire but remember to bring appropriate footwear for the vineyard and trails.

Petit Pet Nat Party Thursday 26 October

For the lovers of Pet Nat, the Pet Nat party goes petit this year to offer just 30 guests an exclusive showcase of Western Australian Pet Nats in the Bungalow Wine Room.

Guided by a local wine maker Rhys Parker of Dunsborough urban micro winery Vallee du Venom, you’ll get to taste 6 Pétillant Naturel wines from wineries such as Vallee du Venom, Brave New Wines and L.A.S. Vino, famed for their light fizz and fresh aromatic expression, matched to canapés from the Bungalow kitchen over the course of the evening.

An intimate yet casual affair.

 

SkinSea Saturday 28 October

An unforgettable wine and seafood safari awaits you at Bungalow Social. Traverse through a curated selection of skin contact wines from beloved South West wineries including Vallee de Venom, Black Cocky Wines, Skigh Wines and LS Merchants, to name a few.

Spend your Saturday afternoon sipping your way around the venue, then venture to the seafood station and choose from an array of coastal creations including lobster rolls, prawn cocktails, fresh oysters and seafood skewers to enjoy with your skin-contact wines.

DJs will be spinning vinyl throughout the afternoon and into the evening so stay on for an afternoon of skinsy drops and delectable bites.

 

Busselton Wine Hop Saturday 21 October

This progressive wine tasting through Busselton’s city centre is a multi-stop, self-guided wander where you’ll meet and greet with a swag of Margaret River region wineries at your own pace.

Busselton’s best venues will host several small-scale producers including Credaro, Black Cocky Wines, Churchview Estate, Di Latte Estate, Brookland Valley, Morlet Wines, Vallée du Venom, Cha Cha Wines, Wines of Merritt, Corymbia, Altair Estate, Skigh Wine, Capel Vale Wines and Passel Estate for a low key day of vino and fresh air.

Spaghetti Disco – Wine Hop After Party  Saturday 21 October

Keen to keep on dancing after your time around town on the Busselton Wine Hop? Or just love all things disco and/or Italian and looking for a fun Saturday night?

Join us upstairs at Shelter for the official Busselton Wine Hop After Party; Shelter’s take on Spaghetti Disco (an Italian dance music sub-genre) is all about embracing the flavours of Italy and taking a step back to the disco era of the ‘70s.

DJ Cuppa Tea will spin her favourite disco tunes as you explore a dedicated wine list focussing on Italian varietals grown in Margaret River. A Meatball Sub special to help soak up those tastings from earlier in the day. Guests are encouraged to dress in glitter, jewels, and bright prints.

 

Brunch at the Bazaar Sunday 29 October

Let your taste buds take you on a journey through the Middle East with Inspired Feasts and Mandoon Estate Wines over an exotic, 4-course tasting menu paired with the Mandoon Margaret River range of wines.

Crafted by Inspired Feasts using locally sourced produce, each course will be paired to a carefully curated selection of wines to complement each plate in front of you. Taste Mandoon’s award-winning range of Reserve Sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot made right here in Margaret River.

Free Events

Skip the ticket all together with our free entry events.

 

Strings With Vin Sunday 22 October

Spend a glorious Spring afternoon in the stunning gardens of Skigh Wines listening to the contemporary sounds of string quartet, Dolce Ensembles.

Bring along a picnic or purchase a grazing board from Skigh’s selection of local cheeses to enjoy alongside their much-loved wines. Perfect for a relaxed-paced afternoon with a stunning soundtrack.

 

The Orange Party Sunday 22 October

Head to LS Merchants for volume two of their energetic orange immersion. Gather at their Treeton cellar door as LS assembles their friends from the region to pour a selection of their finest orange wines for you to enjoy.

Dive into the world of skin contact whites and see why they are making waves in the wine world. Food will be available for purchase from local food truck with DJ sets from LS Merchants and friends.

Dressing in orange attire is encouraged.

Open Vineyards Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October

No cellar door normally means no visitation. But for one weekend, Fine Vines Festival has your exclusive invitation to get behind the gate and go between the vines to meet the makers at wineries and vineyards generally not open to the public.

Meet the makers behind some of your favourite Margaret River Region wines and get to understand their own wine making process, right where the magic happens.

 

Margaret River Main Street Takeover  20-29 October

Taste the best of the Margaret River Wine Region in one central location this Fine Vines. From 20-29 October, Margaret River Main Street’s iconic restaurants and bars will join the festivities offering their own unique experiences.

From wine-by-the-glass offers to curated wine lists and opportunities to meet the makers, you can discover a range of Fine Vines wines and experiences right in the heart of Margaret River townsite this October.

The Margaret River Wine Region is brimming with winemakers, wine educators and sommeliers just waiting to pour their wealth of knowledge into your glass, and this year’s Fine Vines Festival is the perfect way to deepen your wine understanding.

Whether you’re just starting your journey or are looking to take your understanding of this world-class region to the next level, there’s an event to suit your level. Here are a few of the ones we’ll be checking out.

Play Your Chards Right: Friday 20 and Sunday 22 October

What is malo? How does oak influence Chardonnay? And why is Margaret River’s climate so perfect for growing Chardonnay?

Learn how to properly taste this iconic Margaret River style in a masterclass with local winemaker and wine educator Charlotte Newton.

Discover the nuances that contribute to the versatility of this flagship white grape, tasting six Margaret River Chardonnays while undertaking a blending exercise using barrel samples, all under Charlotte’s guidance. The best blend takes home a bottle of Charlotte’s own label, ChaCha Chardonnay.

Book Play Your Chards Right

Busselton Wine Hop: Saturday 21 October

This progressive wine tasting through Busselton’s city centre is a multi-stop, self-guided wander where you’ll meet and greet with a swag of Margaret River region wineries at your own pace. Busselton’s best venues will host several small-scale producers, each on hand to share their wine and passion. Accumulate wine knowledge, taste and compare or just enjoy a low key day of vino and fresh air.

Wineries involved in the day include; Credaro, Black Cocky Wines, Churchview Estate, Di Latte Estate, Brookland Valley, Morlet Wines, Vallée du Venom, Cha Cha Wines, Wines of Merritt, Corymbia, Altair Estate, Skigh Wine and Passel Estate.

Want to your Saturday afternoon to keep going into the eve? Join the Shelter crew for Italian Disco – the official Wine Hop After Party!

Book Wine Hop

Behind the Bubble: Saturday 21 October

Have you ever found yourself wondering how they put the sparkle in sparkling wine? This Spring, craft your own bubbles with acclaimed Howard Park winemaker and sparkling wine specialist, Nic Bowen.

Follow the process from barrel to bottle with a winery tour exploring the ins and outs of tirage, disgorging and dosage. Put your skills to the test by creating the perfect sparkling wine.

Book Behind the Bubble

Somm Trek: Saturday 21 October

Uncover your next favourite drop, with the help of a Somm to decode the wine speak. This is the insider’s insider tour: a five-hour, sommelier-hosted vineyard trek with one of WA’s most respected sommeliers and wine educators, Foni Pollitt.

Criss cross the region visiting Windows Estate, Swings & Roundabouts, Marri Wood and Marq Wines with informed commentary from Foni about the wines you’re tasting and the region. Grazing platters await you at Windows Estate with lunch following at Swings & Roundabouts to top off your afternoon.

Book Somm Trek

In Conversation with Andrew Caillard MW: Thursday 26 October

Join author of The Australian Ark, Andrew Caillard MW, for a fireside In Conversation chat with co-publisher Angus Hughson at Voyager Estate. Scheduled for release in November, The Australian Ark is an epic three-volume tome that tells the story of Australia’s wine history from 1788 to the modern era.

Upon arrival, enjoy a selection of Voyager Estate wines and canapés to savour as the conversation begins to flow. A special event for those wanting to deepen their Australian wine knowledge as well as the Margaret River context.

Book In Conversation

Open Vineyards: Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October

No cellar door normally means no visitation. But for one weekend, Fine Vines Festival has your exclusive invitation to get behind the gate and go between the vines to meet the makers at wineries and vineyards generally not open to the public. You’ll get to go behind the scenes at some of your favourite Margaret River Region wines and get to understand their own wine-making process – right where the magic happens.

Buy bottles and get the inside scoop from your favourite small batch producers including Burnside Organic, Jilyara, Frazer Woods, Cloudburst, Trait Wines and more.

View the Open Vineyards blog

This is Rob Currell, he’s been working at the Cellar Door at Juniper Estate since February 2017.

Rob was working in Leonora at a gold mine during the late 90s. When the price of gold dropped and the mine closed, Rob picked up a job behind the bar at the Margaret River Hotel. After working in a few bars, including Wino’s, now Swings Tap House, his passion for wine landed him a job at Juniper.

Rob’s favourite varietal is Riesling, and he would love to one day visit Germany, especially Mosel, for the fantastic Riesling.

A lover of nature and the coast, Rob is partial to fresh-shucked oysters (Coffin Bay, Streaky Bay or Tassie) and (you guessed it) a glass of Riesling.

We caught up with Rob and asked him a few questions about working in the Margaret River Wine Region.

What’s your favourite varietal and why?

It’s a tough call, but I would have to go with Riesling. I love the way it shines in its youth, and the aromatics and texture it develops over time. It is so representative of it’s time and place, and reflection of the winemaker that I think it is truly a wine that can offer something to everyone. It was also my first serious love when I started drinking wine (Thank you Pikes).

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region? 

Take your time. There is so much to see and do that if you try to cram in to much in too short a time you’ll only end up missing out. Remember, WA stands for ‘Wait Awhile’.

Where is a hidden Gem in the region to visit? 

Are there any hidden gems left in Margaret River?! I’ve always loved nature and exploring. Check out the rock pools along the coast around Yallingup and maybe spot an Occy (watch out for the pretty ones with blue rings). Discover Deadly – A fantastic reptile park in Carbanup and the Boranup Karri Forest.

What makes our region so special?

For me, it’s the diversity of people it attracts. In my role in the cellar door I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to all kinds of people from all over the world, from farmers to astronomers, and everyone has a story to tell.

Singapore Airlines is a proud partner of Margaret River Wine Association. Both entities are passionate advocates of fine wine, sharing a vision to sustain a contemporary and refined selection, whilst remaining committed to providing their network with the highest possible standards of quality in their attention and offerings to their customers.

World-class insights from a celebrated panel of experts

Singapore Airlines takes great pride in wine selection and customers can appreciate extraordinary wines from the finest vineyards located in many prominent wine regions across the globe. With methodical care and deliberation, wines are handpicked by Singapore Airlines’ wine consultants, represented by some of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected wine aficionados:

Collectively, the panel endorses a particular assortment of wines and Champagnes which they believe to be of a certain unmatched standard, and therefore fit to be served on Singapore Airlines flights.

A sophisticated testing and selection process

Continuing a distinguished heritage of delivering people to the finest places in the world, Singapore Airlines also proudly delivers the finest wines from around the world to its guests. Meticulous care is taken to ensure that each passenger is gifted with the quintessential and iconic Singapore Airlines service of luxury and elegance with their selection of wine.

Wines are selected from either a tendered process, where blind tasting is undertaken by the respected Singapore Airlines wine consultants, or through personal visits to vineyards and wineries across different revered wine regions. These careful and delicate approaches allow Singapore Airlines to fortify relationships with exclusive maisons and domaines, to nourish the wine selection opportunities, and ultimately seek to procure the most distinguished wines available.

Personal Sommeliers at 30,000 feet

A devoted appreciation of wine is synonymous with Singapore Airlines, with an expertly trained cabin crew. Their expertise involves identifying the origin and significance of certain wines, commenting on the unique characteristics of different wines, and the ability to recommend a perfect pairing to complement a meal.

Air Sommeliers are present on Singapore Airlines flights and are committed to providing informed guidance to customers and fellow crew members. Air Sommeliers can be identified onboard by a pin reminiscent of small bunch of grapes, worn on their uniform.

An astonishing fleet of awards

With sustained efforts to ensure an unparalleled flying experience and wine selection, Singapore Airlines has been internationally praised, and awarded five gold awards in the Cellars in the Sky Awards in 2022 and 2023. The Airline also holds claim to the coveted Best Overall Cellar for three consecutive years, in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The gold awards garnered include:

This international esteem only reinforces Singapore Airlines’ commitment to offering the finest wines.

An extravagant international menu

Fancy a fine dining experience, delivered at 30,000 feet? Singapore Airlines customers can experience beyond the warm and impeccable service on their next flight in Premium Economy, Business Class, First Class or Suites with ‘Book the Cook’ – their own tailored restaurant in the sky.

‘Book the Cook’ is an extraordinary culinary experience, where customers on selected Singapore Airlines flights may choose from a wide selection of carefully crafted dishes, including creations inspired by Singapore Airlines’ renowned International Culinary Panel. Customers can savour the flavours of the world without ever leaving their seat.

Singapore Airlines has fostered a relationship with seven globally recognised chefs to augment the dining offerings onboard. As connoisseurs in their respective cuisines, they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table and craft dishes that are inspired by the expansive Singapore Airlines global network, and by their own experiences and cultures.

If you are looking for an unmistakably unique and memorable dining experience, ‘Book the Cook’ by Singapore Airlines is the perfect service. With its variety of dishes and impeccable presentation, Book the Cook is the height of luxury in the sky to complement the famous Singapore Airlines commitment to the highest standards of service to its customers.

 

Nine expert wine judges have arrived in the Margaret River Wine Region to judge Margaret River wines for the distinguished International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The IWSC has judged in situ programs in South Africa, Argentina, Turkey, Austria and Georgia this year. However, Margaret River is the only wine region in the world where the in situ judging will focus solely on one region’s wines rather than an entire nation’s. It will also be the first time to judge outside of Europe, Africa or South America.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “Securing this amazing opportunity is massive.  It reinforces Margaret River’s reputation as a desirable destination producing high-quality and world class wines.”

“Winning an IWSC medal holds significant prestige, and it can really boost the reputation and assist with sales of a wine.”

The visit will provide a significant opportunity for the judges to dive deep into the region and gain an appreciation of what makes it so unique.

In addition to the three days of wine judging being conducted at Clairault Streicker, the judges will stay in gorgeous beach houses at Smiths Beach Resort and participate in masterclasses, wine tastings and cultural storytelling in some of the region’s most breathtaking locations.

They will also have a chance to discover the region’s quality produce through meals prepared by local chefs including, Ben Jacob of Lagoon Yallingup, Aaron Carr of Yarri and Ben Day of Cullen Wines.

The IWSC results will be announced to the exhibitors on the final day of judging at a sundowner in the Art Gallery at Vasse Felix, and the UK trade will have the opportunity to taste the medal-winning wines at events in London at the Roundhouse on 19 October and 67 Pall Mall on 1 November.

Meet the Judges

Alistair Cooper MW is an independent British wine writer, judge, consultant and educator with over 20 years of experience in the industry. He writes for JancisRobinson.com and regularly contributes to several publications, including Club Oenologique and Decanter. Alistair is also the global consultant wine buyer for the Sydney-based Australian company United Cellars, Australia’s largest independent wine merchant.

Freddy Bulmer is a veteran IWSC judge and wine buyer for The Wine Society, the world’s oldest wine club, where he’s responsible for The Wine Society’s portfolio of wines. He also contributes a monthly column to OllySmith.com and judges in numerous wine competitions. Freddy strongly believes that wine should, first and foremost, be about having fun.

Melania Battiston traded a career in marketing for one in wine, swapping university for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and Court of Master Sommelier (MS) exams. She’s now sizing up what it takes to become an MS. After working as Head sommelier/wine buyer at Medlar, Melania is currently the Junior Food and Beverage Manager at Aman Resorts. In 2022, she won the Young Sommelier Competition and was number 3 on Harper’s Top 25 Sommeliers in the UK.

Libby Brodie is the founder of London-based independent wine consultancy Bacchus & Brodie, co-founder of The Wine Collective and City AM’s dedicated wine columnist with her regular “Wine Without The Snobbery” page. Libby is a qualified wine consultant and self-proclaimed “wine translator” with a passion for accessible, entertaining wine communication. She regularly moderates and hosts panels and events, sources and curates wines for private clients, and guest lectures at Universities on Wine Communication.

Beth Pearce MW is the Buying Director for Lay & Wheeler, one of Britain’s longest-standing fine wine merchants. Before that, she spent ten years at Majestic Wine, initially managing stores in the UK’s South West, followed by five years in the buying team at Majestic Wine, sourcing wines, beers and spirits from around the world for their 200 stores. Beth became a Master of Wine in February 2020 and, in September 2021, won the ‘Outstanding Young Person award at the Vintner’s Company.

Chris Crawford is Group General Manager of Beverage at Crown Resorts (Melbourne, Perth and Sydney). Chris is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers (UK and USA) and a past president of Sommeliers Australia. He is also a senior judge at various regional and capital wine shows and the outgoing chair of the Yarra Valley Wine Show and James Halliday Chardonnay and Cabernet Challenge.

Randall Pollard is a Roseworthy (Wine Production & Marketing) Graduate. Since 1999, Randall has been an importer and merchant of fine wines for Melbourne-based Heart& Soil Imports and Randall’s Fine Wines. He’s judged in Australian Capital City Shows widely since 1987 and smaller regional shows since the 1990s. Randall regularly visits many European wine producers, tasting and learning each year. He is a regular tutor at the Len Evans Tutorial.

Emma Farrelly is Director of Wine for the State Buildings & Como The Treasury, where she curates unique wine lists and wine events for each of the award-winning restaurants. For over 19 years, Emma’s passion for the wine industry has produced award-winning wine lists across top venues in Perth. For two years, Emma studied under the guidance of Dr Steve Charters, Master of Wine. Since then, Emma has worked as a Sommelier and consulted on various wine lists and menus, earning her recognition through numerous awards.

Erin Larkin is an independent wine writer and communicator based in Perth. In 2012, Erin left her successful fashion career and moved into the Wine business, where she is now a writer, judge, and presenter. She reviews Australian and New Zealand wines for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and contributes to publications, including The Wine Companion magazine and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Erin is also WSET Level 3 qualified and is a Barossa Wine School Specialist educator. In 2022, she was accepted as a scholar in the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial.

Last week, for the first time in the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s (IWSC) history, they brought in situ judging to Australia and focused on one region, not the whole country. Known as Australia’s ’boutique region’, Margaret River is famous for its premium wines. The quality of the wines did not disappoint, with 92% of entries awarded with a medal.

The IWSC is renowned for assessing wines and spirits and play an essential role in maintaining and elevating industry standards in the world of wines and spirits.

The judges spoke highly of the quality of all entries, noting that the bar had been raised very high. Over 260 wines were tasted, and over 230 wines were awarded with medals – be it gold, silver or bronze, which is an incredible strike rate of over 92%.

The two hero grape varieties of Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, ruled the tasting in terms of the number and the quality of entries and the most medals. Of the 24 golds, 11 were awarded to Chardonnays and 10 to Cabernet Sauvignons.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “We were a bit nervous as we knew the judges were coming with high expectations, but we were so pleased with the whole week. The quality of the wines that the judges tasted both in judging and during the week, and the medal strike rate achieved, even exceed their expectations.

Master of Wine Alistair Cooper oversaw the judging panels, including international and local experts. The international judges who travelled to Western Australia were Master of Wine Beth Pearce, Freddy Bulmer, Melania Battiston and Libby Brodie. They were joined by the Australian wine professionals and communicators Randall Pollard, Erin Larkin, Chris Crawford and Emma Farrelly.

The IWSC judges were utterly impressed with the calibre of Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which showed a real complexity and great ageing potential. They felt that while the 2022 Cabernets were still young, they would develop beautifully in the bottle. “There’s a range of styles in the Cabernet from 2021 and 2022, with some on the more commercial end of the spectrum, with glossy oak and polished pastille fruit, and some wines where the briny, savoury influence creates delicious complexity,” said the judges. “We found high quality and high scores in both camps and a place for both in the global market.” The older vintages, such as 2018 and 2019, showed excellent, firm structure and refined flavours of dry spice and truffles.

One of the gold-winning wines, Cape Naturaliste Vineyard Torpedo Rocks Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, earned a brilliant score of 97 points.  The judges described it as “superb” and praised its alluring nose “with a violet and lavender undertone supporting the fruit. This is supple and, polished and poised. The finish is good, with great Margaret River character.”

As for the Margaret River Chardonnays, the 2022 vintage was proclaimed “stellar” by the IWSC judges, who admired the Burgundy-like flinty character and layers of fruit flavours. The experts appreciated a wide range of Chardonnay styles among the entries, with various approaches to winemaking and, particularly, the use of oak. According to the judges, the most brilliant wines captured the phenolic character of the local Chardonnay clone and the natural zingy pink grapefruit acidity.

The highest-scoring Chardonnay was Stella Bella Wines Luminosa Chardonnay 2022 earning 97 points and a gold medal. The judges admired the vibrant fruit, the skilful use of oak, and the wine’s mineral profile: “Oyster shell, delicate nuttiness, perfectly managed reduction. Exactly what you want from Margaret River Chardonnay. This tastes delicious too, with great structure and layers of flavour. It’s complex and powerful but refined too.”

 Cherubino received an impressive total of 4 gold medals for their Chardonnay wines – Chardonnay 2022, Dijon Chardonnay 2022 and Gingin Chardonnay from Margaret River, as well as Pemberton Chardonnay 2022.

Among other white whites, the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends were the most notable, earning several bronze medals and one strong gold. The gold winner, Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2023, displayed a gorgeous aroma profile of “green pineapple, pine and herbs” and a “juicy and succulent palate, still with a distinct pine note. Feels textural, with lots of citrus zest.”

Shiraz received a few silver and bronze medals and one gold. It may not be the most widely cultivated grape in Margaret River, but it definitely has the potential, according to the IWSC judges. The gold-winning wine, Passel Estate Lot 71 Reserve Syrah 2018, impressed the judges with its Rhone-like character showing “a lot of earthy feral development and truffle. Some mint in the background. More pure and black-fruited on the palate, grainy tannins and fresh acidity.”

Overall, the judges were very impressed by the quality of Margaret River wines, which showed complexity and represented a variety of styles while maintaining a distinctive regional character.

23 Gold Medal-winning wines from Margaret River

97 points Cape Naturaliste Vineyard Torpedo Rocks Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
97 points Stella Bella Wines Luminosa Chardonnay 2022
96 points Robert Oatley Finisterre Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
96 points Churchview Estate The Bartondale Chardonnay 2022
95 points Robert Oatley The Pennant Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
95 points Robert Oatley The Pennant Chardonnay 2021
95 points Cape Mentelle Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
95 points Cherubino Gingin Chardonnay 2022
95 points Cherubino Dijon Chardonnay 2022
95 points Cherubino Chardonnay 2022
95 points Clairault Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
95 points Credaro Family Estate 1000 Crowns Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
95 points Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2020
95 points Evans & Tate Redbrook Reserve Chardonnay 2019
95 points Fermoy Wilyabrup Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
95 points Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Chardonnay 2022
95 points Nocturne Single Vineyard Forrest Vineyard Chardonnay 2022
95 points Passel Estate Lot 71 Reserve Syrah 2018
95 points Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
95 points Stella Bella Wines Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022
95 points Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2023
95 points Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
95 points Voyager Estate MJW Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Discover full medal results here.

The Gold medal wines will be judged again in London by the IWSC experts for potential Trophies, awarded at the IWSC Awards on 19 October.

The IWSC judging in Margaret River was organised in partnership with the Margaret River Wine Association and supported by WA Wines to the World, an industry-led Export Growth Partnership coordinated by Wines of Western Australia, co-funded by DPIRD.

We’ve been busy organising activities, finessing events and finalising details for the arrival of nine IWSC Judges in Margaret River Wine Region early next week.

Margaret River wineries have submitted their selection of red, white, sparkling and rosé wines for the IWSC Judging committee.

We are very excited to host the Judges in the Margaret River Region. This year, the IWSC judges have judged in-situ programs with South Africa, Argentina, Turkey, Austria and Georgia. Margaret River is the only wine region in the world where the in situ judging will focus solely on a region rather than an entire nation.

Showcasing the stunning Margaret River Region

But it’s not all about wine.

Over the six-day stay in the region, the judges will visit some of our most breathtaking locations, including places of cultural significance for the Wadandi People.

It’s a unique opportunity for the judges to encounter the region and gain an appreciation of what makes it so special.

While here, the Judges will participate in Masterclasses and tastings in situ at the wineries, where the winemakers will take them on a deep dive of Margaret River’s key varieties, organic wines and sparkling.

They will also have a chance to discover the quality produce and meet the chefs at our finest venues, including Ben Jacob of Lagoon Yallingup, Aaron Carr of Yarri Restaurant and Bar, and Ben Day of Cullen Wines.

Judging will take place over three days at Clairault Streicker, with results announced on the final day of judging at a sundowner hosted by Vasse Felix.

Who is the IWSC?

Established in 1969, the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) is renowned for assessing wines and spirits.

The distinguished organisation comprises expert judges and enthusiasts who conduct blind tastings to evaluate global submissions. In addition, they organise events, workshops, and educational activities to spread the love for wines and spirits and foster understanding of these beverages.

Its core objective is recognising exceptional quality and authenticity in the industry. Winning an IWSC medal holds significant prestige, boosting the reputation of wine and spirit producers.

The IWSC plays an essential role in maintaining and elevating industry standards in the world of wines and spirits.

Meet the Judges

Alistair Cooper MW is an independent British wine writer, judge, consultant and educator with over 20 years of experience in the industry. He writes for JancisRobinson.com and regularly contributes to several publications, including Club Oenologique and Decanter. Alistair is also the global consultant wine buyer for the Sydney-based Australian company United Cellars, Australia’s largest independent wine merchant.

Freddy Bulmer is a veteran IWSC judge and wine buyer for The Wine Society, the world’s oldest wine club, where he’s responsible for The Wine Society’s portfolio of wines. He also contributes a monthly column to OllySmith.com and judges in numerous wine competitions. Freddy strongly believes that wine should, first and foremost, be about having fun.

Melania Battiston traded a career in marketing for one in wine, swapping university for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and Court of Master Sommelier (MS) exams. She’s now sizing up what it takes to become an MS. After working as Head sommelier/wine buyer at Medlar, Melania is now the Junior Food & Beverage manager at Aman Resorts. In 2022, she won the Young Sommelier Competition and was number 3 on Harper’s Top 25 Sommeliers in the UK.

Libby Brodie is the founder of London-based independent wine consultancy Bacchus & Brodie, co-founder of The Wine Collective and City AM’s dedicated wine columnist with her regular “Wine Without The Snobbery” page. Libby is a qualified wine consultant and self-proclaimed “wine translator” with a passion for accessible, entertaining wine communication. She regularly moderates and hosts panels and events, sources and curates wines for private clients, and guest lectures at Universities on Wine Communication.

Beth Pearce MW is the Buying Director for Lay & Wheeler, one of Britain’s longest-standing fine wine merchants. Before that, she spent ten years at Majestic Wine, initially managing stores in the UK’s South West, followed by five years in the buying team at Majestic Wine, sourcing wines, beers and spirits from around the world for their 200 stores. Beth became a Master of Wine in February 2020 and, in September 2021, won the ‘Outstanding Young Person award at the Vintner’s Company.

Chris Crawford is Group General Manager of Beverage at Crown Resorts (Melbourne, Perth & Sydney). Chris is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers (UK and USA) and a past president of Sommeliers Australia. He is also a senior judge at various regional and capital wine shows and the outgoing chair of the Yarra Valley Wine Show and James Halliday Chardonnay and Cabernet Challenge.

Randall Pollard is a Roseworthy (Wine Production & Marketing) Graduate. Since 1999, Randall has been an importer and merchant of fine wines for Melbourne-based Heart& Soil Imports and Randall’s Fine Wines. He’s judged in Australian Capital City Shows widely since 1987 and smaller regional shows since the 1990s. Randall regularly visits many European wine producers, tasting and learning each year. He is a regular tutor at the Len Evans Tutorial.

Emma Farrelly is Director of Wine for the State Buildings & Como The Treasury, where she curates unique wine lists and wine events for each of the award-winning restaurants. For over 19 years, Emma’s passion for the wine industry has produced award-winning wine lists across top venues in Perth. For two years, Emma studied under the guidance of Dr Steve Charters, Master of Wine. Since then, Emma has worked as a Sommelier and consulted on various wine lists and menus, earning her recognition through numerous awards.

Erin Larkin is an independent wine writer and communicator based in Perth. In 2012, Erin left her successful fashion career and moved into the Wine business, where she is now a writer, judge, and presenter. She reviews Australian and New Zealand wines for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and contributes to publications, including The Wine Companion magazine and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Erin is also WSET Level 3 qualified and is a Barossa Wine School Specialist educator. In 2022, she was accepted as a scholar in the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial.

 

A NEW VOICES STORY by Dianne Bortoletto

Italians have left an indelible mark in all corners of the globe, shaping human history and modern culture from arts to science, inventions to architecture and of course, food and wine. In Margaret River, Dianne Bortoletto looks at some Italian influences that add to the region’s story.


Cherubino Wines

Driving into Cherubino Wines, you could pretend you were in Tuscany; the gravel driveway meanders alongside rows of vines toward a two-story Tuscan-looking cellar door, the surrounding garden adorned with large ceramic pots, Cyprus pines and olive trees.

Owner and winemaker Larry Cherubino, a first-generation Italian, explained how his family came to be in Australia, and like many immigrant stories, it’s marred with struggles.

“Grandad immigrated from Calabria in 1939 with the view of setting up a farm in Logue Brook Dam just outside of Harvey (about 90 minutes south of Perth),” Larry said.

“When he left Italy, my grandmother was pregnant with my mum, and the aim was for her to immigrate to Australia as soon as possible. But then the Second World War broke, out and Italy was initially an enemy, and he was rounded up and put in an internment camp.

“It was ten years before my grandmother and mother could come to Australia. My mum was ten years old when she met her father.”

Also born in Calabria, southern Italy, Larry’s father immigrated to Australia in the late 1950s as a 12-year-old boy making the long, arduous boat journey alone to be reunited with an older brother, one of Larry’s uncles, who was already in Perth.

“I’ve still got relatives in Reggio, Calabria. I’m not that close to them these days, but it’s funny when I go back there, there’s lots of familiar-looking people!”

A drone's view of a Tuscan style building surrounded by vineyards

Image: Tuscan influenced architecture of Cherubino Wine’s Margaret River vineyards and cellar door.

Larry, who has 30 years of experience in the wine industry, has spent a lot of time in Tuscany, where Chianti is his drop of choice, and about five years working in Sicily.

“My Italian heritage is a big part of what we what we do and how we go about it,” the father of three said. My grandad had three acres and every inch of those three acres was planted with tomatoes or something you could eat. Yes, we make wine, but we’re ultimately farmers, we grew up on the land and I really put a heavy emphasis on the way we grow and the way we farm, great wine starts in the vineyard. From a winemaking point of view, what’s most important is that everything we make has to be really sympathetic to food.”

When it comes to food, Cherubino Wines has already carved a name for itself in Perth with a slick city cellar and recently opened a 50-seat restaurant Frui Momento, Latin for ‘enjoy the moment’, next door to their Margaret River cellar door.

In Margaret River, Cherubino Wines has 40 hectares under vine, where the focus is predominately Chardonnay, a varietal the region is renowned for. They also have 60 hectares in Pemberton (about two hours south-east of Margaret River), and 100 hectares in Frankland River in the Great Southern (about three hours east) where they grow Italian varietal Fiano. Cherubino Wines were responsible for bringing the first cuttings of Fiano into Western Australia and now boast the oldest and largest Fiano plantings in the state.

Cherubino Wines produces other Italian varietals, notably Nebbiolo, which Larry describes as getting better with every year, as well as white Arneis that originates from Piemonte.

Of the 25,000 cases produced each year, Cherubino Wines exports close to 30 per cent to Europe, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia.


Credaro Wines

One of the oldest names in wine in Margaret River is Credaro, a pioneering family who first started making wine for family and friends 100 years ago, an Italian table wine called Fragola.

Cesare Credaro arrived on the SS Omar from Naples into Fremantle, Western Australia in 1921. With his brother Olympio he moved to the northern part of what is now the Margaret River Wine Region, working on the land to cut sleepers by hand for the railways.

Living frugally and saving all they could, the brothers had an opportunity to conditionally purchase 146 acres (59 hectares) for 500 pounds from the Government, on condition that they had to continue to cut sleepers and thus clear the land for farming. Robert Credaro, Cesare’s grandson, still has the broad axe his grandfather used.

“They had saw pits where they’d roll a big log over and there’d be one guy above and one below in the pit sawing by hand, that’s how they did it,” said father-of-five Robert, who is now semi-retired.

Initially potato and sheep farmers, the Credaro family first planted a commercial crop of vines in 1988, supplying grapes to other wineries. In 2003, Credaro Wines built a winery and established their own label soon after.

“We also farm pomegranates, avocados and a new breed of sheep, with 2,000 breeding ewes,” Robert said.

Over the last hundred years, the Credaro empire and family has grown, but the business remains family-run with the fourth generation now at the helm. The eldest of the four sons and Credaro Wines operations manager, Matt Credaro, works alongside his twin brothers Mike and Chris, while brother Jason, a qualified winemaker, has moved into brewing, but is still involved in the family business.

A group of five men standing between rows of grapevines

Image: Three generations of the Credaro family in the vineyards at Woolston A

“Being a part of the family business is great and a privilege, I enjoy working with my family and my brothers,” Matt said. “I’m not sure my daughters will follow the family tradition of being out on a tractor, but my nephews love it–there’s a few children in generation number five likely to carry on the family tradition.”

Located on Caves Road, the Credaro cellar door is more than a tasting stop. The white stucco building sits within a garden of beautiful rose bushes and mature trees, and the entrance arbour is covered with purple wisteria. Inside, the walls tell the Credaro story with old family photos, and out on the balcony the breathtaking views of the rolling hills make it a popular wedding venue. There’s also a gorgeous clothes and homewares boutique to wander through.

Credaro Wines has four vineyards in the Margaret River Wine Region, a total of 107 hectares growing predominately Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also other varietals includingSangiovese and, excitingly, they have grafted cuttings of Italian varietals Montepulciano, Barbera and Nebbiolo which are expected to produce fruit in the next three years. They produce one million bottles each year and continue to make Fragola, which means “strawberry” in Italian, from the original cuttings from those first vines.

“At the moment, we’re exporting ten per cent of our wines to Singapore, United Kingdom and Taiwan,” Matt said. Future plans for Credaro Wines include making Italian styles when the new vines mature, and in time, opening a new cellar door at their Wilyabrup vineyard.


Mr Barval

One of Margaret River’s smallest producers, Mr Barval, is heavily influenced by owner and winemaker Robert Gherardi’s Italian heritage along with his experience working in Italy’s famous Barolo wine region.

A second generation and dual citizen Italian, all four of Robert’s grandparents immigrated from a small town and alpine valley wine region called Valtellina, famous for Nebbiolo, about 100 kilometres northeast of Milan near the Swiss border.

In fact, the name Mr Barval is an acronym for Robert’s wine experiences: Mr represents Margaret River, Bar represents Barolo, and Val is for Valtellina.

“My grandparents were ‘off the boat’ [arriving in] in Fremantle, and I grew up in Perth’s southern suburbs. We did the holy trinity of typical Italian experiences: every summer we’d make passata, every autumn we’d make wine and every winter we’d do one or two pigs and make salami and sausages. They were such fun days!” Robert said.

“I studied winemaking in my mid-20s and had the desire to do an overseas vintage and get some different experience. A lot of Australian winemakers go to France because we grow so many French varietals, but for me, I had the urge to experience winemaking, but also to reconnect with family and with a culture that I only knew as an Aussie-Italian.”

Following a vintage in Barolo, Robert was offered full-time work, and moved his wife and two young children to Piedmonte where the family lived for a few years. Those traditional Italian winemaking principles he learnt now inform his approach at Mr Barval.

“We make our wines the same traditional way, they are very natural in that we hand-pick, we wild ferment, we don’t fine, we don’t filter. It’s not this more modern natural winemaking phenomena, it’s not the naturalness that’s important, it’s growing the right grape in the right area and looking after it well and capturing the essence of the season.”

What’s interesting about Mr Barval is that they don’t own vineyards, but rather they rent rows of vines from several different vineyards, working with the landowners and tending to those vines themselves, plucking leaves to allow more sun to hit the fruit or directing vine shoots to grow a certain way.

“Renting rows of vines is par for the course in Europe, but here, no one had heard of that system, so we had some convincing to do,” Robert said.“Working with grapes from great sites, that are established and balanced, allows us to make the unfiltered and unfined wines, but in a really fine wine way because we’re working with a base level of grapes that are perfect. Our focus is on the varietals that do really well here, which is Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but we do make a small amount of Nebbiolo too.”

Mr Barval’s first harvest was in 2015, when they made just 4,500 bottles across four different wines. This year, their largest production to date saw them produce eight different wines and 20,000 bottles in total. While highly sought-after domestically in Australia, Mr Barval has exported wine to Singapore, Hong Kong and a selection of private buyers in Europe.

Altro?

There are other small Italian producers and Italian varietals grown in the region. Visithttps://winewa.asn.au/margaret-river/for more information.

 

Cara Newton – Hay Shed Hill
Cellar Door Manager

Meet Cara Newton, for the past 8 years Cara has been working at the Hay Shed Hill cellar door. 

Cara has lived in the Margaret River Region for over 18 years, first working in winery restaurants and then at Clairault Strieker in the cellar door. 

While the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and Italy are on Cara’s bucket list to explore, she is also deeply passionate about the region she lives in, and loves to share her local knowledge with the visitors to her cellar door.

She’s partial to a glass of Chardonnay and loves the pairing of lobster profiteroles from Rustico with Hay Shed Hill’s Block 6 Chardonnay. 

We caught up with Cara and asked her a few questions about working and living in the Margaret River Wine Region.

What is your favourite varietal and why? 
I don’t have one favourite but one of the top ones for me would be Chardonnay. It’s so versatile.  I love how beautifully it can express where it is from and I love that the winemaker can have such an influence in the end result. I love how well it can age and how beautiful and fresh it can be young. 

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?
Talk to a local. One of my favourite parts about my job is sharing with customers all the awesome experiences I’ve had down here. 

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special?
There is something for everyone down here. So much incredible produce, such a diverse range of places to eat and drink, so many great places for kids. Epic bushland, endless beautiful beaches. Our land here is so ancient, that’s super cool.

Cabin Fever returns for 2023 in a little under two weeks. Spanning 10 days and nights from 14 to 23 July, it’s a time when the Margaret River Wine Region truly comes alive.

The region has such wonderful produce, and together with talented chefs and winemakers, you will be treated to world-class wining and dining.

And this year, wine lovers, you’re in for a treat – there are 21 wine events to choose from!

It’s time to grab your winter jackets and escape the house. Enjoy some good company, feast on wintery fiery delights and taste some fine wines made by our local legends.

Here we’ve selected our top picks for Cabin Fever 2023.

1. Flames + Games: Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July

Spend an afternoon in front of the fire playing your favourite card and board games with a glass of wine.

Hosted by Clairaut Streicker, this free event will liven your weekend and eliminate any winter blues. You can compete for prizes, join the fun of the communal jigsaw puzzle, feast on smoked and woodfired delights from the kitchen and soak up the live blues music. Winter weekend perfection!

2. Ransack the Cellar: Saturday 15 and Saturday 22 July

On consecutive Saturdays during Cabin Fever, Cape Grace is offering a tasting event like no other. Red wine lovers you won’t want to miss this intimate tasting!

This exclusive vertical tasting will take you through their single vineyard, estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, from the 2012 vintage to 2016. Guided by Head Winemaker Conrad Tritt, you will explore the nuances and evolution of these exceptional wines.

3. Yarri at Snake & Herring: Sunday 16 July

Are you curious about winemaking and the processes involved in blending red wines? This is the event for you.

Join Snake + Herring winemakers Tony “The Snake” Davis and Redmond “The Herring” Sweeny in this fun and interactive blending session. You’ll get to taste unfinished wines and learn what’s involved when taking fermented juice to finished wines. Followed by a delicious long-table lunch catered by the team from Yarri.

4. Pie Meets Wine: Monday 17 July

What could be better than sitting amongst the Karri trees in Boranup forest with a winter pie and a selection of red wines?

Award-winning Boranup Pies & Ale will be bringing their award-winning winter pies to warm your insides while you enjoy a wine flight of Fermoy Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, hosted by Fermoy Estate winemaker Jeremy Hodgson. Sounds like a deliciously wholesome afternoon feast!

5. Savouring the Art of Shiraz: Friday 21 July

Savour Syrah and Shiraz at this stunning Masterclass, led by Leeuwin Estate Chief Winemaker Tim Lovett.

Starting with a tasting in the Leeuwin Art Gallery, encompassing two brackets: benchmarking five Shiraz from regions across Australia, followed by a deep dive into Leeuwin Estate’s Shiraz with a tastings from five vintages accompanied by canapés.

After the Masterclass, you will enjoy a three-course Shiraz-centric lunch in the Leeuwin Estate restaurant, paired with the new release 2021 Art Series Shiraz alongside the spectacular 2011 Museum release.

6. Red Hot at Swings: Saturday 22 July

Swing’s Yallingup is opening their doors for a celebration of museum red wines and fiery performances for the final weekend of Cabin Fever.
Enjoy treasures from the Swings ‘Wine Library’ and special access to back-vintage wines, with flame-touched canapés and tasty woodfired bites.

All the while, immerse yourself in the soundtrack from the dual DJ sets of Simon Mellor and Ru Teweeh, for a sensational Saturday night in the Margaret River Region.

7. Rise & Dine: Sunday 23 July

Be treated to a five-course Sunday brunch paired with award-winning wines at Xanadu on the final day of Cabin Fever.

Feed your soul with warm delights from Head Chef Andrea Gasparini’s kitchen and ease into your Sunday afternoon with live music in the cosy winery restaurant.

Head to the Cabin Fever website for more info and to purchase tickets to the events.

The results from this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards have been announced and Western Australia’s Margaret River has three wines in the competition’s Best in Show.

The Margaret River wines awarded Best in Show were:

From 57 countries 18,250 wines were tasted to select the Best in Show from across the world and Margaret River represented 6% of the Best in Show medal winners.

Margaret River’s superlative success reinforces the region’s reputation of global excellence, particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

“If there is a ‘winning region’ in this year’s Top 50 Best in Show selection, it has to be Western Australia’s Margaret River,” said DWWA judges, noting two Cabernets and a Chardonnay made the list.

Whilst Margaret River is known to be one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world and produces only 2% of Australia’s wine, this performance also represents 30% of Australia’s 10 medals in the Best in Show list.

Margaret River’s success also continued in the competition’s other awards receiving three Platinum, fifteen Gold, 49 Silver and 34 Bronze medals.

When hearing that Margaret River was awarded 104 medals at the Decanter Wine Awards, Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland said “We are ecstatic with these results which recognise the uppermost quality of Margaret River wines on the global stage.”

“It is really significant, not only because the DWWA is the world’s largest wine competition, but also because of the huge number of 236 judges, including influential wine experts, Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers that come together from 30 nations to make these selections.”

“The exposure to Margaret River wines that these awards provide these international judges, consumers and trade is significant.”

“I am sure the huge number of Margaret River wineries, over 30 wineries, that received one of the competition’s top awards will be celebrating with a glass of something delicious tonight.”

Tina Gellie, Decanter’s Content Manager and Regional Editor for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, who spent a week touring the region in November 2022, said she was thrilled but not surprised by Margaret River’s superlative performance.

‘The region’s unique terroir fingerprint and passion of the producers shines through in the wines, which was not only evident during my visit but clearly also to our expert judges at the DWWA. Congratulations to everyone who submitted wines this year.”

Margaret River Top Results

Best in Show Evans & Tate Redbrook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Best in Show Domaine Naturaliste Rebus Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Best in Show House of Cards Ace of Spades Chardonnay 2022

Platinum Clairault Streicker Ironstone Block Old Vine Chardonnay 2020

Platinum Robert Oatley Pennant Chardonnay 2020

Platinum Xanadu Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Gold Brown Hill Estate Ivanhoe Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Gold Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Gold Capel Vale The Scholar Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Gold Capel Vale Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

Gold Domaine Naturaliste Morus Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Gold Domaine Naturaliste Le Naturaliste Cabernet Franc 2020

Gold Fermoy Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Gold Fermoy Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Gold Flametree Wines S. R. S. Wallcliffe Chardonnay 2022

Gold Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Chardonnay 2021

Gold Gralyn Estate Museum Rare Muscat NV

Gold Gralyn Estate Classic Muscat NV

Gold Peccavi The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Gold Stella Bella Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2021

Gold Stella Bella Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

The IWSC is bringing its international wine awards to Western Australia, in partnership with the Margaret River Wine Association.

Wine judging in Margaret River

The IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) is delighted to announce it will be taking a panel of international experts to Margaret River to judge local wines ‘in situ’ in August.

The same stringent judging process will take place, but producers will benefit from a more convenient, local delivery and the opportunity to bring their wines to the global stage.

IWSC’s CEO, Christelle Guibert, commented, “We are thrilled to be taking our international awards to Australia this year. We have seen the success our immersive judging has had in other countries, including Georgia, Turkey and South Africa, and are sure to see the same triumph in Margaret River in Australia. Both the IWSC and Margaret River’s wines’ history date back over 50 years, and we look forward to joining forces and sharing these world-class wines with our community.”

Regional benefits

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said she is so excited to have retailers, sommeliers and key media from the IWSC, one of the world’s most highly regarded international wine competitions, coming to Margaret River.

“We believe judging Margaret River wines in Margaret River will immerse the IWSC judges in the region, giving them lasting impressions, as well as providing our winemakers an opportunity to meet and create relationships with key buyers and influencers.”

“Partnering with the IWSC will help us showcase some of the best wines from our beautiful region to wine industry professionals and wine drinkers through a program of events and publicity of the awarded wines,” says Whiteland.

A panel of expert judges

The IWSC team of international judges include:

Local Australian judging experts will join the international judges:

 

Judging will take place from Wednesday, 30 August to Friday, 1 September and results will be announced online the following week on 4 September 2023.

Proudly supported by WA Wines to the World; an industry-led Export Growth Partnership coordinated by Wines of Western Australia, co-funded by DPIRD.

2023 proved an extended yet very rewarding vintage in the Margaret River Wine Region. Optimal, dry weather conditions paired with the absence of any significant climatic challenges or disease pressure set the scene for a moderate season, ideal for gentle, consistent ripening across all varieties.     

A slightly cool, delayed start 

Winter temperatures were lower than average, which made for a quick senescence and sound dormancy for the vines. There was markedly less-than-average rain; however, the vineyards received sufficient supply to recharge soil moisture levels, paving the way for a promising growing season ahead.

The growing season began with a late budburst after a relatively cold winter that pushed vine development back by about 2-3 weeks. Spring saw less rain and cooler conditions than usual, resulting in a slow start to canopy growth and an extended flowering period for early bloomers like Chardonnay. Good fruit-set across most varieties resulted in generally higher yields than average.

Consistently warm, dry summer 

Low November rain slowed into an even drier December, January and February, with less than 2 mL of rain falling collectively across the summer season. January brought consistently warm, sunny days, which saw vines start to catch up nicely on their development. Veraison was delayed by 2-3 weeks for whites and one week for reds. February, dry with plenty of sunshine and no extreme heat, provided perfect ripening conditions and harvest starting around the middle of the month.

Cold southerly breezes blowing off the ocean and cool mornings, evenings and nights helped retain natural acid in the fruit. At the same time, short periods of peak heat during the day were ideal for slow, even ripening across all varieties.

Disease pressure was minimal in the region due to seasonal consistency and dry conditions stretching from January until the middle of April. The Marri tree blossom was scarce this year, which made grapes an easy target for the native birds, and as a result, bird netting and monitoring were vital.

Reds roll off gracefully

The warm, dry conditions that kicked off the season continued for most of the reds, with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon rolling off the vine gracefully. Temperatures were a bit cooler in April, meaning it took longer for tannins to soften and for flavour to develop fully. However, the sunny, dry weather that held out until mid-April meant the fruit could remain on the vine until it was ready. Some heavy rains in mid-late April pushed out the red harvest slightly for some later ripening vineyards.

Alex Miller, Technical Viticulturist at Voyager Estate, explained, “What started as a slow burn in spring for the viticulturists resulted in a glorious summer of optimal temperatures, rewarding us with classy fruit befitting our regional reputation. April evolved into a typical patchy weather pattern as producers raced against the season’s end. Fortunately, Cabernet Sauvignon berry skins are sturdy and can withstand the dip in temperature and the odd shower. All round, another epic vintage in the bank.”

2023: An Excellent Vintage 

Despite minor weather events towards the end, 2023 proved a fantastic vintage. As winemakers taste the wines as they finish fermentation, they can already see the incredible quality of what has come off the vineyards. The region’s hero varieties, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, stand out for vintage 2023. The Chardonnays are elegant and fresh with lovely natural acidity. The Cabernet Sauvignons are inky and dense, showing great intensity and a very fine tannin structure.

The region’s volume is estimated to be approximately 34,000 tonnes this year, and 6% higher than the 5-year average. The increased yields and superb quality across the region bode well for the 2023 vintage wines.

“In summary, 2023 will be remembered as an excellent vintage in Margaret River.” writes Glenn Goodall.

Sustainability Surged in 2023

For Vintage 2023, Margaret River vineyards and wineries participating in Sustainable Winegrowing Australia grew significantly to 96 members.

The 47 Certified Vineyards Members account for 1,876 hectares or 32% of Margaret River’s vineyards. An additional 22 vineyards are working towards certification. Margaret River also boasts 13 Certified Wineries that crushed 14,641 tonnes last year.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “Our Association’s Sustainability Plan was established out of a conviction to fulfil our custodial responsibilities. It recognises the importance of protecting our region’s rare biodiversity, exceptional environment value and capacity to produce some of the world’s best wines.”

“A major focus of the plan is onboarding our members to the national Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, which aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and focuses on soil, water, people, biodiversity, energy and waste. Kate Morgan, MRWA’s Sustainability Officer is working with members to achieve certification and build additional value for their wines.”

A New Voices Story by Leah Clearwater

Next time you venture into a vineyard, ask which grape clones are planted there and you’re bound to hear a series of unfamiliar codes that sound a bit too “sciencey” to be related to the romance of wine.  Most wine lovers are content to have a solid grasp on what the main grape varieties are, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, and so on. However, an understanding of grape clones and the important role they play towards wine style adds another intriguing dimension when considering the wine in your glass.

If Wine was Marvel, the Greatest Grape Clones would be the X-Men

Clones are essentially the “X-Men” of the wine world, mutants of the Vitis Vinifera species. Each clone has a gene sequence which imparts uniquely sought-after qualities, or ‘superpowers’ in wine.  They are generally named after their place of origin, a research field code, or a combination of both.

Originating from a special ‘mother vine’, clones are reproduced via nursery cuttings which are used to plant vineyards. No-one knows exactly how many clones exist, as natural genetic changes can occur spontaneously, and new clones are identified and released by universities every year. You will also find that each wine region has its own favourites due to the suitability of particular clones to the soils and climate of the area.

The Clonal Kings of Margaret River

Despite the wide range of wines coming out of Margaret River, Chardonnay and Cabernet reign supreme as the flagship wines of the region, and receive the most acclaim internationally. Their status is firmly associated with two heritage clones; Gingin for Chardonnay and the Houghton selection for Cabernet.

The Gingin Jedi

Introduced into Western Australia in 1957, the first Gingin cuttings were sent to Australia by Professor Harold Olmo who originally imported the clone as a grapevine virus indicator. Introduced to Margaret River in 1975, Gingin quickly became recognised for its iconic quality attributes and low-yielding nature. Today, Gingin is the most widely planted clone in the region.

Gingin is the preferred clone of many winemakers due to a phenomenon colloquially referred to as ‘hen and chicken’ and technically termed ‘millerandage’. The poor ability of this clone to set fruit results in small, loose bunches made up of a mix of large (hen) and small (chicken) berries. This distinctive feature creates wines in which ripe fruit characters and rich acidity coincide.

Clone Wars – Chardonnay

The main clonal players in ‘Battle Chardonnay’ are Gingin and the Dijon (Burgundian) clones 95 and 96. Although Gingin wins the war regarding percentage of vineyard area, the jury is out on which is the better clone, with winemaker preference being the greatest influence.

Cliff Royle, winemaker at Flametree Wines, prefers to use Gingin fruit to create his award-winning Chardonnays.

“Gingin is all about concentration, freshness, purity and acid. There’s plenty of flavour in the big berries and lots of acid and concentration in the little ones. I love the line of citrus, stone fruit and dried pear in the fruit profile and the naturally balanced juices we get to create wines from. This clone gives texture and complexity that no other clone can compete with”.

Dijon clone vines are higher yielding with more uniform bunches and entirely different acid and flavour attributes, which lean toward finer, more savoury and mineral elements in the wine.

When Stuart Pym, owner and winemaker at Flowstone Wines, had the opportunity to compare Chardonnay clones, it was Dijon that won the day.

“For me, it was clones 95 and 96 that really stood out. They offered lovely textures and flavours, but still an open nature to the palate that allowed further complexing elements. Not as focussed as Gingin, but more subtle and textural. So, for me, the Dijon clones 95 and 96 allow Chardonnay to be textural, elegant and complex. As such, my Chardonnay vineyards are planted to these clones, and the wines certainly demonstrate this.

So, who wins this clone war? In the case of Margaret River Chardonnay, I think we’re all happy to declare a truce. The advantage of having two outstanding genetic players in the region is that winemakers can create a diversity of styles and are able to utilise the individual characteristics of each clone to craft complex and layered blends.

 The Houghton Heroes

The history of Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon is founded on vine cuttings loosely referred to as ‘Houghton clones’. No-one took much notice of these until the 1930’s when vignerons were prepared to overlook the low-yielding nature of the clone due to its outstanding quality. This is when Jack Mann, WA winemaking legend and founder of Houghton Wines, took cuttings from the old bush vines located throughout the Swan Valley near Perth and established the “Houghton Cabernet Block”. Cuttings from this block became the vineyard planting material for the pioneers of the Margaret River Wine Region.

Many people mistakenly refer to a singular Houghton clone, when in fact there is a collection of different clones. Their commonality is found in that they were selected from the most superior vines in the original Houghton Cabernet Block.

 Clone Wars – Cabernet Sauvignon

After an initial flurry of plantings in the early days of the Margaret River wine industry, the vines in the Houghton Cabernet Block were neglected from the mid 70’s through to the 1990’s. During this period all the focus was on the new kid on the block, clone SA-126 from South Australia. It is not clear why this clone flourished so greatly in comparison, as it is higher yielding and tends to produce lighter, more tannic wines.

So, who is the winner here? Vasse Felix winemaker Virgina Willcock, weighs in on the discussion,

“Houghton Selection appears to be synonymous with a Margaret River Cabernet style. It is our heritage clonal material, and it imparts beautiful succulence and transparency, allowing the regional characters of forest, ocean and red gravel to show through in the wine. Clones from this selection offer lightness and freshness of red fruit and a fine tannin profile, bringing an amazing balance to the wine in a savoury context. We find Houghton clone wines have less tomato leaf character than SA126 and have greater ability to retain elegance and finesse while still holding the power of great Cabernet”.

Keith Mugford of Moss Wood sees the merits of both clones while acknowledging the specific requirements for getting things right with SA-126.

“The Houghton clones produce fruit aromas in the blue and black spectrum, giving a nose with blueberries and mulberries, combining with lifted almost floral scents like violets and roses but retaining the complex background of cedar and tar.  Houghton clone wines are quite different to those made with SA-126.  The Houghton clones have a more rounded tannin structure and give a generally softer “feel”, while SA-126 has more concentrated, drying tannins and needs to be picked riper to achieve good balance”.

Although both sets of clones can create Cabernets of distinction, regional tastings held over the years have established a clear preference for the lower-yielding vines from the Houghton clonal selection. Further validation has been achieved through clonal trials and research projects comparing the vine and wine characteristics of numerous Cabernet clones, where the ‘Houghton Heroes’ prevail every time.

A Universe Unfolds

The battle of the clones has been raging across the world for centuries now, with each global wine region treasuring their specific collection, and each individual winemaker optimizing their style via clonal choices.

At just 54 years old, the Margaret River Wine Region has a comparatively small library of clones at its disposal and is very young by international standards. Yet, in a very short period it has established itself as a serious star in the universe of wine and much of this can be credited to the X-Men at play.

Samantha Bradley – Xanadu Winery
Cellar Door Assistant Manager

A sea change from Perth in search of world-class wine, unspoilt coastlines and beautiful forests led Samantha Bradley to quit her engineering job in Perth and buy a house in Margaret River.

As a long-time customer and big fan of Xanadu Wines, it was the first place she contacted for a job after completing her wine studies and the rest as they say is history.

A daughter of a wine merchant in the UK, Sam always had a strong interest in wine and food, with Champagne and smoked salmon blinis or Vermentino and ceviche as some of her favourites at the moment. Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley is on her travel bucket list, but it is Chardonnay, particularly from Margaret River, more specifically Steven’s Road, that she really finds exceptional.

With some wine studies and two years as the Cellar Door Assistant Manager at Xanadu, Sam has not looked back!

We asked Sam a few Q’s to share with us:

The Margaret River Wine Region is always ready to welcome guests from Western Australia, interstate and overseas. Every year, the region attracts a staggering 1.5 million overnight visitors, who are drawn in by the appeal of the 100-plus cellar doors that range in style from quaint owner-operated tasting sheds, through to many of Australia’s most coveted winery destinations.

There is no denying that the Margaret River Wine Region has cemented itself as Australia’s principal region for wine tourism. This status attracts some serious wine aficionados, but the region prides itself on catering to all levels of wine lovers with a range of experiences for you to explore. That being said, navigating a wine-tasting can often feel overwhelming for newbies so we thought we would lay out some helpful tips to consider when visiting the many wineries our region has to offer.

Make a booking

To avoid disappointment, it is always best to book ahead. As mentioned above, the Margaret River Wine Region is an extremely popular destination and although you can always find a quiet corner to escape the crowds if you want to go to a certain winery then booking in advance is always the way to go. By making a reservation, you are ensuring that the winery is ready to welcome you and give you the best possible experience.

Don’t fret the Tasting Fee

The days of wandering in a winery and tasting through their full range without spending a dime are behind us. The good news is that now for only a small tasting fee, you get a curated, unique experience that will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of wine. Plus, the fee is often redeemable with a bottle purchase, but bear in mind this is not always the case.

Don’t walk through the vines

Help protect the vines that make Margaret River wines so special. When visiting our pristine wine region, please refrain from walking amongst the vines as your shoes and clothing can spread pests and diseases. By refraining from doing so you are helping to preserve our unique terroir!

Go beyond the Cellar Door

COVID changed everything when it comes to wine tasting. Now that we are on the other side, things are returning to normal, but one of the best outcomes was the increase in amazing bookable wine experiences whether that is a tasting flight or a full-on winery and vineyard tour. Take advantage of these new opportunities to go beyond the cellar door. It may mean you won’t be able to see as many wineries in one visit, but the once-in-a-lifetime experiences you will uncover will be well worth it!

Don’t pour your own wine

We have all thought about it once or twice. When there is a bottle of wine right in front of you begging to be poured, it is tempting to do it yourself, but please leave it to the professionals. If a bottle happens to be left in front of you it is most likely so you can snap a picture for Insta or admire the artwork on the label. It is not an invitation to serve yourself.

Yes, you can spit

When tasting a wine, it is customary to observe the colour first as it can tell you quite a bit about what is in the glass. Next swirl the wine to fully unleash the array of aromas then use your nose to assess the many layers of a wine’s bouquet. Finally, after using sight and smell to observe the wine, it is time to sip. Enjoy and savour the wine as it moves through the palate revealing flavour, texture, and acidity. Then feel free to spit. It is common practice among wine professionals and is not considered rude. By spitting out the wine, you can taste at multiple cellar doors and still ensure that you are drinking responsibly.

Take a Trail

Plan out your route! The Margaret River Wine Region spans 110 kilometres and with over 100 cellar doors, it can be quite overwhelming. That is why we recommend that you plan out your trip. Find wineries and restaurants you want to go to and then map out the best route to visit them.

If you need a little help with planning your trip, look no further than our self-drive food and wine trails. With eight different tailor-made routes covering everything from Chardonnay to Cabernet, Lo-Fi to family-owned, it is a wonderful way to discover what makes the region so special. Here is the link: https://margaretriver.wine/trails/.

Drink Wise

While we want you to come to the region and visit as many cellar doors as possible, we also encourage you to remain responsible with your consumption of alcohol. We recommend that visitors to the region don’t drink wine on an empty stomach, drink plenty of water, use spittoons and if planning to drive, choose a designated driver or take a guided wine tour. Bear in mind that tasting pours are generally 15 millilitres so 6 pours equal one standard drink. #drinkwise #drinkaware

Don’t feel like you have to pick and choose

With so many cellar doors in Margaret River, there are plenty of options to choose from, but when it comes to shipping the region’s wine home you don’t have to choose. With the region’s mixed-case shipping option, you can select a range of wines from different producers to send in one box. Find out more through this link: https://margaretriver.wine/mixed-case-shipping/.

Don’t forget food

The Margaret River Wine Region and surrounding areas of the south-west of Western Australia are renowned for exceptional local produce that complements the wine perfectly so why not add a culinary experience to your visit? Whether you are interested in a gourmet platter or six-course degustation, you can find plenty of fabulous options dotted across the region. Plus, it will help you to drink responsibly!

Dress to Impress

Being a coastal region, it is quite tempting to head out for a tasting straight after a swim at the beach. This is even encouraged at some of the more casual cellar doors in the region! However, for the most part, you want to aim for smart casual attire. At the bare minimum make sure you have something to throw on over your bathers plus some shoes!

If you happen to be taking advantage of one of the many local, bespoke experiences, be sure you were the appropriate shoes. Generally, if you are going to be touring a winery or vineyard, you will need close-toed footwear. Also, it is always good to note not to wear perfume or aftershave when wine tasting as it can interfere with a wine’s subtle aromas and nuances.

In conclusion, we wish you a wonderful wine tasting experience in the Margaret River Wine Region. At the end of the day, what is most important is that you enjoy yourself, discover something new, and learn more about the delicious drop we so adore. Happy tasting!

 

 

Help protect the vines that make our special wines.

Margaret River is one of the unique wine regions in the world that can grow vines on their own root system due to the absence of the vine pest Phylloxera (fil-ox-era). The minute aphid-like pest attacks grapevine roots and causes decline in vine health and ultimately impedes the vine’s capacity to produce. For more information visit the Phylloxera website.

Your shoes and clothing can spread pests and diseases.  Please ensure you help protect Margaret River vines from phylloxera and other pests and diseases whilst visiting our region.

Please don’t walk amongst our vines.
Please do not enter vineyards without permission
Please observe biosecurity protocols during your visit.

Margaret River wine sign

 

After the overwhelming success of our inaugural Wine Community Revegetation Day at the Rivermouth foreshore last year, we are pleased to announce that the date for 2023 has been scheduled for Friday, 2 June. With the tremendous amount of interest shown in 2022, we look forward to even more participation this year!

17 June 2022 marked the very first Revegetation Day organised in partnership with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region and the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. Over 60 eager volunteers from local vineyards, wineries and cellar doors turned up to lend a helping hand showing a huge amount of excitement and support for our revegetation initiative. In fact, the event was so popular that a volunteer waitlist had to be put in place!

The aim of this wine community conservation effort was to give back to the unique and pristine coastland that gives rise to the distinct and expressive wines that have put Margaret River on the map. The Rivermouth was chosen specifically as the site for this revegetation day due to its significant cultural, marine and terrestrial biodiversity value, not to mention its importance as a recreational hub for locals and visitors alike.

The focus of the day was to work on the degraded areas of this coastal epicentre removing weeds, managing access, stabilising dunes and replanting key native species. The Rivermouth foreshore is an incredibly vital yet fragile ecosystem, made even more so due to its popularity as a cherished surf and swim spot in the summer months. By blocking unapproved access trails, removing onion weeds, planting native seedlings, and covering those newly planted cuttings with a protective layer of brush, we were able to ensure this precious area will continue to thrive for generations to come.

After observing the outpouring of support for the 2022 Revegetation Day and the incredibly positive impact our efforts had on this beloved section of coastline, we decided to make this an annual event and got straight to work planning the 2023 event.

On 27 January 2023, we partnered with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region and Cape Mentelle Vineyard to hold a fundraising movie night at the winery’s iconic outdoor cinema, screening Blueback. It was a heartwarming film and the experience was further elevated by Cape Mentelles’ world-class wine and Little Hand Dumplings’ handcrafted delights. Tickets sold out and the evening ended up raising over $6,000, all of which will go directly towards our 2023 Revegetation Plans, a key part of our Sustainability Action Plan.

If you are wondering how you can get involved in helping to protect and preserve this fertile, yet fragile coastland, keep an eye out for more information on the 2023 Revegetation Day set for 2 June. We look forward to seeing you there!

Can’t possibly wait until June? Well, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River and Nature Conservation are looking for volunteers to help protect the Gnarabup Headland area at their first community coastal rehabilitation session of the year on Sunday, April 2nd between 10 am and 12 pm. Find out more information through the link below.

https://natureconservation.org.au/blog/volunteers-needed-to-care-for-gnarabup-coast/

Whilst living, travelling, visiting and holidaying on Wadandi Boodja, we ask that you respect the area and walk softly on the country, taking the time to listen to Boodja (Country) as she Wongi (talks) of the season, and leave nothing but footprints.

–  Pibulmun Wadandi Yunungjarli Elder Wayne Webb.

Thursday, February 23rd, marked the inaugural Pre-Vintage Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony presented by the Margaret River Wine Association and Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association. The gathering centred around welcoming those arriving in the area to help with vintage and sharing with them the beautiful culture and history of the traditional custodians, the Wadandi (Saltwater) people.

Set at the serene Pioneer Park Amphitheatre in Cowaramup, the evening began with the musical stylings of local guitarist and vocalist, Dan White. His laidback, acoustic tunes filled the air as the sun dipped down behind the treetops and blanketed the park in dappled golden light. Viticulturists, winemakers, cellar hands, vineyard workers, as well as local community members, trickled in with chairs, eskies, and picnics in tow. It was a joyous scene as friends reconnected, colleagues kicked back and vintage teams swapped stories.

As everyone settled into their own patchwork of blankets and camping chairs, quiet settled over the crowd. That is when Amanda Whiteland, CEO of the Margaret River Wine Association, took the stage. She welcomed all and thanked the hard-working individuals who have come to the region to lend a helping hand during this busy period. She then recounted the start of vintage 2023, noting that despite a slow beginning to the growing season, the consistently warm and sunny days of January and February mean the region is on track for a fabulous vintage.

Next Stuart Hicks, Chair of the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association Directors, spoke to the unique makeup of our coastal region with its meld of locals as well as interstate and international transplants. He asked anyone whose parents and grandparents were born in the region to put up their hands. With only several hands raised, Mr Hicks acknowledged the far-reaching heritage of the Wadandi people whose connection to this land dates back over 50,000 years.

Mr Hicks invited to the stage Wadandi Pibulmun Elder, Dr Wayne Webb and Iszaac Webb of the Undalup Association, who then welcomed the group onto their ancestral land and spoke of the Bunuru season. It is one of the six ancestral seasons of the people of Wadandi Boodja and stretches from February to March covering a vast majority of the vintage period.

Iszaac spoke of the name of the land on which we stood, ‘Cowaramup’. Although often incorrectly associated with cows, the name actually means ‘place of the purple-crowned lorikeet.’ He then recounted a Wadandi legend surrounding the Cowara bird and how it stole fire from the thunder and lightning gods. This led quite naturally to the smoking ceremony.

Traditionally, a smoking ceremony is used to cleanse and purify the spirit, body and soul and signifies the beginning of something new. As such, it seemed the perfect way to signify the start of this exciting time for the local wine industry. Wayne and Iszaac lit the smokebush and guests had the opportunity to bathe in the cleansing plumes of smoke. Attendees were also invited to daub their faces and hands with white ochre to show their connection to country.

With Dan White once again spreading the good vibes with his guitar, people took turns kneeling by the fire pit, painting their faces, and chatting to Iszaac and Wayne. Folks mingled and caught up, soaking in the last glimmers of evening light before eventually calling it a night.

Altogether it was a spectacular way to welcome newcomers and celebrate the start of harvest. It offered the rare opportunity to reflect on the remarkable history of the region while looking with eager anticipation to what the future of vintage 2023 may have in store. The Margaret River Wine Association has declared that this will now be an annual event and we cannot wait to see how it continues to evolve in the years to come.

The 2022 Sustainable Winegrowing Australia Impact Report was released on February 28, and Margaret River Wine Region’s adoption of the program is leading the nation.

To coincide with its release, the Margaret River Wine Association advised there has been significant growth and support of the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program in the region over the last two years.  The Margaret River Wine Region now has 51 certified members compared to only 18 members in 2020.

Whilst Margaret River crushes less than 2% of Australia’s wine grapes, a disproportionate number of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program members are in Margaret River, with 17% of Winery Members, 8% of Vineyard Members and 14% of Certified Members.

Currently, the Margaret River Wine Region Members of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia include:
67 Vineyard Members. 40 Certified Vineyard Members
19 Winery Members. 11 Certified Winery Members
7 Wine Business Members

The Margaret River Wine Region’s 40 certified vineyards cover 1,543 hectares, or 26% of the region’s vineyards.   The 11 certified wineries crushed 12,786 tonnes in vintage 2022.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “The innate suitability of Margaret River’s land and climate to fine wine viticulture enables vignerons to grow outstanding grapes while working with the environment holistically. ”

“The Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program helps growers and wineries formalise their approach and put continuous improvement at the heart of their sustainability plans.”

“It is great to see vineyards and wineries taking their commitment to the next level through certifications.”

The Margaret River Wine Association is progressing towards an ambitious goal to achieve 100% of members compliant to the national Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, and 50% certified by December 2025.

Search Sustainable Winegrowing Australia members here.

ADOPTING ORGANIC AND BIODYNAMIC PRACTICES

A growing number of vineyards are embracing reduced chemical use along with more regulated organic and biodynamic practices to maximise vine health and minimise harm to the surrounding ecology, returning good inputs such as compost back to the land.

At present, 738 hectares, or 12.6% of Margaret River Wine Region’s vineyards are certified organic or biodynamic.  An additional 25 hectares of vineyards are in conversion and expected to be certified by the end of 2023.

Search certified as organic and biodynamic grape growers and wineries in Margaret River or those in the process of gaining certification here.

This year Margaret River will have a strong presence at ProWein, in Düsseldorf Germany.

Over three days, from the 19-21 March, 50,000 trade guests from around the world will have the opportunity to connect with Margaret River producers and taste the region’s wines. Attendees will also have the chance to discover the latest releases, meet with brands seeking distribution and explore new opportunities from the world-renowned wine destination.

Margaret River will be represented at ten exhibitor booths, a regional stand, a Cabernet Sauvignon masterclass and a 4-hour Margaret River feature at the Wine Bar on the Wine Australia stand.

In a new hall and location (Hall 14, B10), the Wine Australia stand is 50% bigger than the last one planned for 2020.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said it’s great to have such a strong representation from Margaret River wineries at ProWein this year.

“This is the biggest trade event for wine in the world, so to have so many representatives from the region travelling to Düsseldorf for the event this year is fabulous, particularly after 3 years of limited travel due to Covid.  This is also the first time we have had a Margaret River regional booth at ProWein.”

“I am really looking forward to presenting Margaret River to trade from around the world at this huge event!” Ms Whiteland said.

Margaret River Exhibitors
Margaret River Producers who are heading to ProWein to showcase their current releases include Handpicked Wines, Howard Park Wines,  Madfish,  McHenry Hohnen,  Robert Oatley Vineyards, Vasse Felix, Voyager Estate, Wayfinder, Deep Woods Estate and Evans & Tate from the Fogarty Wine Group. Periscope Management will also have wine from Byron & Harold, Moss Brothers, Altus Rise, Wills Domain, Credaro, Jilyara, Knee Deep and Thompson Estate on their stand.
The floor plan for the Wine Australia stand is available here.

Margaret River Regional Booth
The Margaret River Wine Stand will showcase wines from Cape Mentelle, Howard Park Wines, Small Things Wine, Vasse Felix, Wills Domain and Xanadu.

Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Masterclass
Sunday 19 March, 16.00-16.45
Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon: Traditional, sustainable and organic practices
Presented by Paul McArdle and Emma Symington MW
Featuring: Voyager Estate, Thompson Estate, Xanadu, Howard Park, Vasse Felix and Cape Mentelle.

Wine Australia Wine Bar
Monday 20 March 13.00-17.00
Discover Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
The wines at this free-pour wine bar are the same as the wines in our master classes, so if you miss the Margaret River master class, there’s another chance to try them.

This event is supported by the WA WINES TO THE WORLD program; an industry-led export program coordinated by Wines of Western Australia with funding provided by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Vintage is underway in Margaret River with some producers bringing in their first crops, mostly Chardonnay, while others wait with eager anticipation. The whole region should be in full swing by the end of February.  

A colder-than-average winter made for a quick senescence and sound dormancy for the vines, and despite almost daily precipitation, we received markedly less-than-average rain in both June and July. Although the rainfall was down overall from the previous year, the region received sufficient supply to recharge soil moisture levels, setting the vines up with the required water for a promising season ahead. 

Across the region, grape growers saw early spring budbursts and due to the cold winter temperatures, experienced quite a uniform break. Spring saw less rain than usual and some cool conditions. October was almost three degrees colder than average daily temperatures, which resulted in a slow start to canopy growth and protracted flowering for Chardonnay.  

Low November rain slowed into an even drier December and January, with less than 2 mL of rain falling collectively for the whole summer season. Coupled with consistently warm, sunny days throughout January and no extreme heat, it proved to be an idyllic month for both grape growers and beachgoers alike. Nature’s air conditioner also played a part, with the cool southerly breeze blowing off the ocean and helping to retain natural acid in the fruit. 

As the region’s 2022 Viticulture & Sustainability Excellence Award recipient, Alex Miller, who is also Technical Viticulturist at Voyager Estate writes, “I don’t want to jinx it, but the dreamy conditions rolling in to harvest, the warm February days and cool, still nights are starting to show us some exceptional fruit flavours. It’s a rewarding feeling when your season of hard work starts to shine.” 

If you are in the region, you will notice the nets going on at a rapid rate. The Marri blossom is scarce this year, or perhaps just a bit delayed, which makes grapes an easy and delicious target for the native birds, Silvereye. Also out in the vineyard, final canopy manipulations and cutting out of hard green bunches ensure uniform ripening of the red varieties which will hang, soaking up sunshine for another month or two.  

Producers across the region have enjoyed the extended summer and I suspect quite a few can be found down at the region’s most popular surf breaks, basking in the last glimmers of sunshine and saltwater. There is plenty of anticipation in the region with the feeling that the wait has been well worth it. Adding to the excitement is that once again there is a contingent of international and interstate workers returning to the region to help with harvest. This always amplifies the fun pre-vintage vibes around the region.  

If you happen to be one of the new arrivals to our breathtaking region, be sure to check out the Pre-Vintage 2023 Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony on Thursday 23rd February at 5:30 pm at Pioneer Park Amphitheatre, Cowaramup. It is a free event aimed at marking the start of the local wine community’s busiest time of year, while also welcoming all the harvest workers that have come to assist. All members of the local community are welcome – it is sure to be a wonderful afternoon! Here’s to vintage 2023! 

Whilst living, travelling, visiting and holidaying on Wadandi Boodja, we ask that you respect the area and walk softly on the country, taking the time to listen to Boodja (Country) as she Wongi (talks) of the season, and leave nothing but footprints.

–  Pibulmun Wadandi Yunungjarli Elder Wayne Webb.

With vintage 2023 commencing, the Margaret River Wine Association (MRWA) and Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association (MRBTA) would like to invite their members and the local community to join Wadandi Pibulmum Elder, Dr Wayne Webb for a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, for everyone who has recently joined our region to work vintage.

The traditional smoking ceremony is used to cleanse and purify the spirit, body and soul and signifies the beginning of something new. As such, it is the perfect way to welcome the start of this exciting time for the local wine industry as well as acknowledge the many hard-working individuals who have travelled from all over the world to lend a helping hand.

The event will feature live music by local, acoustic artist Dan White.  It is free of charge and will take place at Pioneer Park Amphitheatre, Cowaramup from 5.30 pm, Thursday, 23 February 2023.  Guests are encouraged to BYO chairs or picnic blankets.

MRWA CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “the start of vintage is an incredibly special time of year in the region’s calendar with lots of seasonal workers arriving and nerves building in anticipation of what the season will deliver.” Adding, “Seasonal workers are critical to our region’s wine and tourism industry and the region’s economy and the community more broadly”.

MRBTA CEO Sharna Kearney said, “We are honoured to have Dr Wayne Webb offering this cultural ceremony to provide newly arrived seasonal workers with an opportunity to build a connection to the Wadandi culture and the local community.”

“The event will offer us all a moment to acknowledge that the Margaret River Wine Region is located upon the ancient lands of the Wadandi People, the traditional owners who have lived in harmony with the environment of Wadandi Boodja (Saltwater People’s Country) for over 50,000 years.”

The Cowaramup Business Association invites guests that would like to go for dinner or refreshments after the ceremony to visit one of the new Cowaramup venues or return to one of the many local favourites.

Jobseekers looking to join the Margaret River Wine Region workforce can find information at margaretriver.wine/work.

Alongside Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association , the South West Development Commission and the City of Busselton, we are pleased to announce that new camping facilities have been developed at Southern Stars Holiday Park Dunsborough for the specific purpose of providing much-needed seasonal worker accommodation in 2023-24.

The powered campsites will be online at the beginning of March 2023, and are suitable for tents, vans and campers and include access to shared ablution and cooking facilities.  Businesses or seasonal workers wishing to secure sites on a short- or long-term basis are encouraged to contact Southern Stars Holiday Park directly to discuss requirements, via (08) 9755 1331 or [email protected].

On behalf of the wine industry, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to Todd Davidson, Natalie McCarthy and their team at Southern Stars, as well as all the local contractors who have worked tirelessly in recent months to bring this project to fruition amidst their own staff shortages. We would also like to gratefully acknowledge the collaboration and support of the SWDC and City of Busselton.

MRWA have been working closely with MRBTA for a number of years to address the region’s challenges in securing accommodation for the seasonal workforce which is so critical for our wine, tourism and hospitality industries. We hope this development will provide meaningful assistance to our members.

This is a longstanding and complex issue for our region, and it is encouraging that industry and government are coming together to progress both short- and long-term solutions for these important industries. With one third of the 2,000 employing businesses in the region requiring access to seasonal staff, this issue will continue to be a long-term focus of MRWA and MRBTA.

A New Voices Story by Leah Clearwater

Almost any article written about a wine region will refer to the specific soil types of the area, and link these to the quality of the wines produced there. To take things a step further, many a wine writer has made bold claims about the influence of geology on wine without explaining how this occurs. You may have seen quotes along the lines of “the famous… sandy soils of Barolo… clay soils of Rioja… stony soils of Bordeaux… slate soils of Mosel… and the limestone soils of Champagne and Burgundy” just to name a few.

So, what’s the dirt on Margaret River…?

Let’s Dig Deeper

Some years ago, I was given the mammoth task of profiling the main soil types across the 5,000 hectares of vineyards in the Margaret River region at the time. This work was part of an exciting project run by the Grape and Wine Research Development Commission with a view to a better understanding of the unique terroir in each of Australia’s premier growing regions. Armed with a mini excavator and operator, shovel, scraper, brush, quality camera and hundreds of soil sample test kits, I set off down the vineyard rows to dig until the bucket hit hard clay or rock and I could clearly see what was going on beneath the vines. The project took several months to complete, yet I have remained fascinated about what I discovered for years afterwards.

This initial project led me to a lifelong fascination with soil profiling, including several opportunities to work with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Western Australia. One of my most memorable discoveries was observing the extent of change that occurs across the region and how frequently soil type transitions, even as you move across a single block. In many vineyards, the soil profile can alter dramatically within a matter of metres.

Seriously Ancient Rocks

The incredible explanation behind the ever-changing nature of Margaret River’s geological landscape is its ancient history, with soils that are dated the oldest of all the Earth’s viticultural areas. The unique shape and features of the region today are the result of global tectonic events and were initiated during the Jurassic period when the supercontinent of Gondwanaland broke into separate continents. During this period a deep, linear trough of sedimentary rocks formed in the east of the region and an iron-enriched lateritic plateau formed to the west, each side separated by the Dunsborough Faultline which still exists to this day.

Over these millennia, ten major soil types have formed, ranging from deep, infertile sands to shallow, gravelly soils. The soil types present in Margaret River vineyards will firstly depend on their location within the region, with sandier soil distribution in the east and more gravelly soil profile down the centre from north to south and in the west. The quantity of gravel in the soil is also related to proximity to the ironstone ridge which underlies most of the shallower soils of the region. This ridge forms dramatic rock outcrops from the northern to the southern cape.

A Stony Story

The ancient origins of the region are impressive, but what do they mean for regional viticulture and do they impart any influence on the wine?

If you speak to any Margaret River winemaker, no doubt they will credit local soils with a positive impact on their wines. Many also have clear preferences around soil type and varietal pairings. There are those who favour the sandy soils of the region for Chardonnay, while the colloquially named “Forest Grove” soil types offer bony, gravelly soils with low fertility levels recognized as ideal for iconic Cabernet Sauvignon. Regardless of preference, the region is most renowned for its gravelly loams.

Western Australian soil scientists Pete Tille and Angela Stuart-Street* explain, “Unlike so much of the wine world, limestone or calcareous soils are of limited importance for Western Australian viticulture. Here, the prized soils are something completely different.  As far as we have been able to ascertain, there are no other wine growing areas around the globe that have soils so broadly dominated by lateritic ironstone gravels……. The gravels have definitely been sought out by vignerons, as by our estimates, they account for over 40% of all plantings in the state.”

Forest Grove soils are free draining with low water and nutrient holding capacities, limiting vine vigour and bringing optimal balance between the foliage and fruit. Along with the reflective heat of surface gravels, these factors bestow the wonderful intensity and concentration typically seen in regional wines.

See Main Soil Types of Margaret River here

The Margaret River wine community is excited about what further correlations may be discovered between soil type and wine in the future. Until then, there remains a firm belief that the ancient geology of the Margaret River Wine Region has had a remarkable impact on its ‘New World’ wines.

Dead or Alive

There is a compelling move towards sustainable viticulture in Margaret River and this is having a positive effect on regional soils, improving their already shining reputation. Conventional farming methods of the past, which had a depleting impact on soil biology, are being replaced with non-harmful techniques and our vineyards are again teeming with life.

Beneficial insects and micro-organisms abound and their part to play in the ecosystem of the vineyard is celebrated by growers. These “living soils” are praised for correcting soil acidity issues, improving soil structure, releasing organic matter and micronutrients, and boosting the vine’s natural resistance to pests and diseases.

Back in the days of my soil pit excavations, I was always delighted when I could scoop up a handful of topsoil and find it rich in colour and squirming with worms, as I knew the vines would be all the happier for this and happy vines make beautiful wines!

Rock On!

The Margaret River Wine Region is young by world standards, but it is literally set on firm foundations, with ironstone soils not found in any other grape-growing area in the world. The mantle of this unique area provides an ideal environment for world class wines and will preserve Margaret River’s place as one of the top regions globally. For those lucky enough to visit the region, the dramatic ironstone rock formations featured across the landscape are truly breathtaking, offering the perfect backdrop for a picnic and some delicious local wine.

The highly respected journalists at The Real Review Wine have just launched a new classification of Australian wine based on a track record of a decade or longer of outstanding results, and Margaret River Chardonnay and Cabernets dominate.

Each wine that made it into the Classification system demonstrated their quality in their blind tastings over the course of at least 10 years, and they have published them into three classification tiers: 3 Merit, 2 Merit and 1 Merit with 3 Merit being the highest classification.

3 Merit wines are iconic wines Australia, wines of true provenance and exemplary track record. Fewer than 0.5% of wines produced achieve this tier. Most of these wines have received gold ribbons for recent vintages. Top vintages will score 98 points or more.

3 Merit Wines (MMM)
Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay
Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon
Stella Bella Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon
Cullen Diana Madeline

2 Merit wines are wines that achieve gold and high silver ribbons in recent vintages, with top vintages achieving 96 points or more.

2 Merit Wines (MM)
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Chardonnay
Flametree S.R.S. Wallcliffe Chardonnay
McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard Chardonnay
Pierro Chardonnay
Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Chardonnay
Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay
Xanadu Stevens Road Chardonnay
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon
Woodlands Cabernet Sauvignon
Xanadu Stevens Road Cabernet Sauvignon
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyards Merlot
Pierro Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
Woodlands Margaret

1 Merit wines are wine that reliably achieve gold and silver ribbons in recent vintages, with top vintages achieving 95 points or more.

1 Merit Wines (M)
Devil’s Lair Chardonnay
Flametree Chardonnay
Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Chardonnay
Hay Shed Hill Block 6 Chardonnay
Howard Park Chardonnay
Lenton Brae Wilyabrup Chardonnay
McHenry Hohnen Calgardup Brook Chardonnay
Moss Wood Chardonnay
Vasse Felix Chardonnay
Voyager Estate Chardonnay
Xanadu Chardonnay
Moss Wood Semillon
Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc
Pierro L.T.C Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay
Cape Mentelle Shiraz
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Shiraz
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Hay Shed Hill Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon
Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon
Stella Bella Suckfizzle Cabernet Sauvignon
Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon
Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon
Cape Mentelle Zinfandel
Cullen Mangan East Block
Moss Wood Amy’s

2022 was an impressive year for the Margaret River Wine Region! It shone brightly at the annual Wine Communicator Awards in Sydney with Margaret River Fine Vines Festival crowned Best Wine-Themed Event and Margaret River Wine Guide taking out Best Wine Website or App. Not to mention the countless fabulous wine reviews and recognitions it has accumulated across James Suckling’s Top 100, James Halliday’s Top 100, Ray Jordan’s WA wine review and The Real Review Wine Classifications.

The annual Wine Communicator Awards awards recognise excellence in wine communications and were created to acknowledge outstanding contributions to, and excellence in wine communication in all forms.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland was in Sydney  to accept both awards.

“Both the Margaret River Fine Vines Festival and the Margaret River Region Guide have involved significant regional collaboration, with over 80 wineries participating in both, as well as the support of AHOY Management and Wine Folly,” Ms Whiteland said.

“It is a privilege to work in region which values collaboration so highly.”

“For Margaret River, a region that grows less than 2% of Australia’s wine grapes, recognised in two categories in the Wine Communicator Awards for its contribution to, and excellence in wine communication is fantastic.”

“It is such an honour to accept these awards on behalf of Margaret River Wine Region.”

Margaret River Wine Association saw a huge opportunity to spotlight the region’s world-class wine offering in a festival dedicated to wine and engaged AHOY Management to co-create the Margaret River Fine Vines Festival with the aim of amplifying the region’s rich wine stories and increasing wine drinker’s depth of engagement with the area’s grape growers and winemakers.

Until the conceptualisation of Fine Vines Festival in 2021, there was no consumer wine festival specifically championing the region’s wine, despite the Margaret River Region producing globally recognised and awarded wines.

The festival shines a spotlight on the people, places and passion behind the region offering exclusive experiences, learning opportunities and behind the scenes access not to be found elsewhere.

AHOY Management Joint Director Brianna Delaporte said the team were thrilled that Fine Vines Festival has been acknowledged as one of the stand-out wine experiences across Australia.

Ms Delaporte said, “The festival is a collaboration between more than 80 of the region’s wine producers, so this win is important for the whole region and recognises the collective dedication to the production of top quality wine and customer experiences.”

“The festival has been purposefully curated to ensure it offers up a unique 10-day program that entices visitors to explore all aspects of the Margaret River Wine Region, and not only champions the region’s powerhouse brands but also provides a platform for the smaller producers that collectively add quality and depth to the program.”

The Margaret River Wine Guide was a collaboration with leading global digital wine education platform Wine Folly and is the first comprehensive digital guide of its kind in Asia Pacific. As the eighth Region Guide produced by Wine Folly, Margaret River Wine Guide now sits alongside other global wine destinations such as Napa Valley, Sicily and Bordeaux.

Four weeks from the launch, the guide had reached an audience of 4.3 million globally, making it one of Wine Folly’s most popular guides to date.

The guide’s comprehensive content was created by award-winning author Madeline Puckette, Wine Folly’s Head of Wine Education, Christine Marsiglio MW, Margaret River Wine Association’s comprehensive new 60 page media kit, and data loaded by individual wine producers into a Global Wine Database.

 

Now onto the long list of many amazing accolades…

James Suckling’s Top 100 Wines of the World 2022 – From over 32,000 wines tasted by James Suckling and his team, two Margaret River Chardonnay are featured!  The Deep Woods Chardonnay was also the highest-ranked of the six Australian wines in the Top 100.

⭐ #25 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Chardonnay Margaret River 2021

⭐ #87 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay Margaret River 2021

James remarked the Margaret River region “…is a unique maritime region making fresh and structured reds and bright and flavorful whites.”⁠

 

James Halliday Top 100 Wines, The Weekend Australian – Margaret River featured 11 times and was the #3 highest region after Adelaide Hills with 13 wines, and Champagne with 12 wines.

𝟮𝟬 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 $𝟯𝟬

⭐ Deep Woods Estate Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2022 – 95 points

⭐ Cullen Mangan Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2022 – 95 points

⭐ Amelia Park Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2022 – 95 points

⭐ Amelia Park Trellis Margaret River Chardonnay 2021 – 94 points

𝟮𝟬 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 $𝟯𝟬

⭐ Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – 96 points

⭐  Windows Estate Petit Lot La Terre Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – 96 points

𝟮𝟬 𝗿𝗲𝗱𝘀 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 $𝟰𝟬

⭐ Hay Shed Hill Morrison’s Gift 2020 – 95 points

𝟮𝟬 𝗿𝗲𝗱𝘀 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 $𝟰𝟬

⭐ Hay Shed Hill Block 2 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – 98 points

⭐ Cherubino Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 – 97 points

⭐ Thompson Estate The Specialist Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – 97 points

⭐ Cullen Diana Madeline 2020 – 98 point

 

The Real Review Wine Classification of Australia – The team at The Real Review have just launched a new classification of Australian wine based on a track record of a decade or longer of outstanding results, and Margaret River Chardonnay and Cabernets dominate. Congratulations to all those that received merits.

3 Merit Wines (MMM)

 Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay

Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon

Stella Bella Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon

Cullen Diana Madeline

2 Merit Wines (MM)

 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Chardonnay

Flametree S.R.S. Wallcliffe Chardonnay

McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard Chardonnay

Pierro Chardonnay

Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Chardonnay

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay

Xanadu Stevens Road Chardonnay

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon

Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon

Woodlands Cabernet Sauvignon

Xanadu Stevens Road Cabernet Sauvignon

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyards Merlot

Pierro Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

Woodlands Margaret

 

Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines Report 2022/23, The Seventeenth Edition

2019 Idée Fixe, Premier Brut Blanc de Blancs, Margaret River

2021 Howard Park, Miamup Chardonnay, Margaret River

2022 Robert Oatley, Signature Series Chardonnay, Margaret River

2021 Leeuwin Estate, Prelude Chardonnay, Margaret River

2019 McHenry Hohnen, Calgardup Brook Vineyard Chardonnay, Margaret River

2020 Vasse Felix, Heytesbury Chardonnay, Margaret River

2018 Robert Oatley, Finisterre Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River

2020 Xanadu Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River

2018 Moss Wood, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River

2020 Cullen, Diana Madeline, Wilyabrup, Margaret River

 

The Enthusiast 100: The Best Wines Of 2022, Wine Enthusiast

⭐ #57 Leeuwin Estate 2018 Art Series Chardonnay, 94 Points

⭐ #98 Howard Park 2018 Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon, 90 Points

 

Reviewers’ Favorites 2022, The Wine Advocate

Erin Larkin discusses her five favorite wines encountered throughout the year (two from Margaret River).

⭐ 2021 Windows Estate Petit Lot Chardonnay  – “A Producer That’s Under the Radar”

⭐ 2020 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Chardonnay – “A Wine That’s Especially Good Value”

 

Wine Pinnacle Awards 2022 – announced earlier this month at a glamorous gala dinner at Resorts World Singapore, with Margaret River Chardonnay recognised again!  Congratulations to Leeuwin Estate & Cullen Wines.

Best Recent Release: Chardonnay (ex-Burgundy)

⭐ 2018 Leeuwin Estate, Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia (Winner)

⭐ 2018 Cullen, Kevin John Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia (Finalist)

 

The Western Australian Good Food Guide Awards

⭐ Wine of the Year – Xanadu Stevens Road Chardonnnay 2020

⭐ New Restaurant of the Year – Frui Momento at Cherubino

⭐ Regional Restaurant of the Year – Chow’s Table

⭐ Regional Chef of the Year – Dan Gedge at Leeuwin Estate

⭐ Excellence Front of House – Caleb Dreaver at Vasse Felix

⭐ Breakthrough Talent – Albee Lee at Wills Domain

 

Ray Jordan’s Annual WA Wine Review, 2023 Edition

 Sparkling of the Year – Howard Park Jete Grand Vintage 2017

Sauvignon Blanc of the Year – Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Small Producer of the Year – Flowstone

Semillon of the Year –  Moss Wood Semillon 2022

Blended White of the Year – Pierro LTC 2022

Chardonnay of the Year – Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2019

White Wine of the Year – Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2019

Merlot of the Year – Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Merlot 2019

Producer of the Year – Cherubino

Cabernet Sauvignon of the Year – Voyager MJW Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Blended Red of the Year – Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2018

Deep Woods Estates takes home six trophies from the 2022 Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show, as the show celebrates its 21st Birthday.

Chaired by wine writer, Nick Ryan, judging took place from Monday 24 to Wednesday 26 October, by an outstanding team, from across the country and as far afield as Sweden, with Master of Wine Madeleine Stenwreth joining after her 2020 and 2021 invitations were postponed.

The judging of 665 exhibits from ninety-two exhibitors took place on Wadandi Boodja, at the Margaret River HEART. Fifty wines received a gold medal for a score of 95 points or above on the 100-point scale.

The awards were presented at a Gala luncheon at Credaro Family’s Esther Gardens in Yelverton as the Margaret River Wine Show celebrated its 21st birthday, and the Credaro Family celebrated 100 years since the first Fragola cuttings were planted by Cesare Credaro in 1922, which has seeded four generations of farming and winemaking in the region.

A delicious menu including Margaret River Wagyu and Leeuwin Coast Ayoka Oysters was prepared by the team at SupperRd and matched to the 2021 Trophy winning wines.

The Deep Woods Estate team triumphed this year taking home six trophies, including Most Successful Exhibitor, Wine of Provenance and Wine of Show. Deep Woods Estate Chief Winemaker & General Manager, Julian Langworthy said he was, “hugely thrilled to be so successful at the 21st Margaret River Wine Show, a testimony to the whole Deep Woods team from viticulture, cellar and winemaking. Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon is in a great place and super excited to win Wine of Show with this Single Vineyard wine.”

Chair of Judges Nick Ryan said, “This year’s wine show finds the region in the rudest of health. The twin pillars of Margaret River excellence – Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon- provided real excitement and the Wine of Show is an incredibly refined and precision etched example of contemporary Cabernet. It’s truly world class.

It’s especially pleasing to see a number of stunning wines emerging from the other classes as well, with some real highlights among the current vintage blends of semillon and sauvignon blanc, the sparkling class and alternate whites. The shiraz classes have once again really impressed. There are some stunning examples of the variety here, across an exciting range of styles.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland said, “the eight-year Langton’s naming right partnership and support of the Margaret River Wine Region is incredibly important. We are also grateful for the wonderful community in Margaret River and the hard-working team of Stewards, Volunteers and Wine Show Committee who give their time so generously to enable the Show to runs so smoothly.

LANGTON’S MARGARET RIVER WINE SHOW TROPHIES:

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Show
Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard G2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Margaret River Wagyu Trophy for Red Wine of Show
Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard G2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Labelmakers Group of Companies Trophy for White Wine of Show
Joseph River Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021

Vinline Mobile Bottling Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor
Deep Woods Estate

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Provenance
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021, 2016, 2013

Margaret River Wine Association International Judge’s Trophy
Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc 2020

City of Busselton Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard G2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Multi-Color Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Joseph River Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021

Tonnellerie de Mercurey Trophy for Best Single Vineyard Red
Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard G2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Sanector Trophy for Best Single Vineyard White
Joseph River Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021

Cospak Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Mandoon Estate Cabernet Merlot 2020

My Vintner Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc
Once & Well Frankie’s Garden Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Orora Trophy for Best Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
Clairault Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2022

Burkert Trophy for Best Other White Blend or Varietal
Frazer Woods La Cache Blanc de Blanc 2014

Fusion Electrical Trophy for Best Shiraz
Xanadu Circa 77 Shiraz 2019

Chr. Hansen ‘Pink Jacket’ Trophy for Best Rosé
Borrello Vineyards Rosé 2022

Hahn Corporation Trophy for Best Other Red Blend or Varietal
Driftwood Estate Artifacts Petit Verdot 2020

The full results book of from the 2022 Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show is available here.

The Judges were (in alphabetic order by surname):
• Chair of Judges: Nick Ryan – Writer, Presenter, Communicator
• International Judge: Madeleine Stenwreth MW, Sweden
• Cliff Royle – Chief Winemaker, Flametree Wines, Western Australia
• Damian Hutton – Chief Winemaker, Nikola Estate, Western Australia
• Daniel Swincer – Chief Winemaker, Pernod Ricard, South Australia
• Emma Farrelly – Director of Wine, State Buildings, Western Australia
• Kate Laurie – Winemaker & Owner, Deviation Road, South Australia
• Liam McElhinney – General Manager & Chief Winemaker, Tasmanian Vintners, Tasmania
• Lisa Jenkins – Sommelier and Owner, Fleet Wines, Victoria
• Stuart Hordern – Senior Winemaker, Brokenwood, New South Wales

The Associate Judges were:
• Andrew Bretherton – Deep Woods Estate
• Brent Carter – Vasse Felix | Idée Fixe
• Chris Gilmore – Clairault Streicker
• Henry Wynne – McHenry Hohnen
• Larissa Dalli – Cani Domaine Naturaliste
• Mark Brown – Dan Murphy’s

 

The Margaret River Region’s wine producers are ready to welcome visitors from next Friday for the second instalment of Fine Vines Festival, with close to 80 producers participating in nearly 30 events from October 14 to 23.

The first weekend of the festival kicks off with crowd favourite, Margaret River Open Vineyards. For one weekend only, guests are invited to go beyond the vineyard gate to meet winemakers that aren’t usually open to the public. 15 winemakers are participating across the weekend, spanning Dunsborough in the north, to Rosabrook in the South.

There’s myriad reasons for consumers to get out and explore in addition to ‘behind the gate’ access, including the opportunity to taste new release wines that aren’t yet on sale, pop-up food trucks, learning about wine and vineyard from the winemakers and having access to wine they might not have seen before.

La Kooki’s Eloise Jarvis said they would be teaming up with Corymbia for their Open Vineyards offering.

“We’re stoked to be a part of Fine Vines’ Open Vineyards with Corymbia. There’s nothing better than sharing wines and stories from both sides of the tasting bench. People can join us at Corymbia’s Calgardup Vineyard, bringing a focus not only onto our wines but how we can help protect and preserve the amazing biodiversity that surrounds us in this unique part of the world – Margaret River.”

Burnside Organic Farm’s Jamie McCall said it’s a great opportunity to showcase their biodynamic winery practices.

“We are thrilled to be involved with Fine Vines again this year. It gives us the opportunity to share our wine, and our story. Being a small producer it can sometimes be hard to be heard, but Fine Vines lets us open our doors and allow people to experience the Burnside Organic Farm journey.

“Open Vineyards is a fantastic event that showcases a lot of places and wines not normally accessible, and being a part of it lets the public see into the practices associated with being Certified Biodynamic in the vineyard and winery.” McCall said.

Also starring on the first weekend will be Xanadu Wines with their event On the Lawn at Xanadu. The event offers a chance to sample wines from 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year Glenn Goodall, to the backdrop of live music and new Head Chef Aaron Lim’s Southeast Asian hawker-style street eats, a perfect setting for a spring afternoon with friends. For those keen on brushing up on their wine knowledge and being some of the first to sample the estate’s Vinework range, they can also join the winemakers in a masterclass before the event.

Xanadu’s Caity Bramich said the whole team was looking forward to the event.

“We’re really excited to for people to come and meet our incredible winemakers and be some of the first to sample our Vinework range, which expresses the toil of the land and many hours spent nurturing the vineyard – watching, tending and tasting. The tier is a celebration and reward for the hours spent walking amongst the vines, connecting with our growers and the region’s land, with the labels a geomap of where our winery crew have walked in the vineyard.

“We’re also looking forward to showcasing Head Chef Aaron Lim’s new direction at the Southeast Asian food stations we have in store. It’ll be a great day for everyone.” Bramich said.

Participants on the Open Vineyards program will be able to track their tastes and wines they liked with festival partner, WineWine. Guests are encouraged to download the WithWine app, and start exploring the vineyards participating for Open Vineyards.

Other events taking place on the first weekend that still have available tickets include:

Friday 14 October

Single Vineyards and Saltbush – McHenry Hohnen Winery
A first taste of McHenry Hohnen’s single vineyard 2020 Chardonnays with winemakers Japo and Henry, set on the balcony overlooking Hazel’s vineyard and paired with a feast by Saltbush Dining.

Taste of Elegance – Shelter Brewing Co
A five-course dinner paired with Credaro wines, guided by Credaro’s winemaker and expanding on your food and wine matching education.

Wine on the Water – Dunsborough Old Fishermans Boat Ramp
Whale watching at sunset. On a catamaran. Tasting Clairault Streicker wines and eating delicious canapes. This was a fan favourite last year for a reason.

Tiller Dining x Rosabrook Long Table Dinner – Rosabrook Wines
George Cooper serves up a five-course degustation paired with premium Rosabrook wines overlooking the stunning Rosabrook vineyard, with produce straight from Tiller’s Yallingup Siding farm.

Saturday 15 October

Pet Nat Party – Bungalow Neighbourhood Social
An exclusive presentation of Western Australian Pet Nats, with a DJ spinning tunes and Chef Denver Stevens cooking up street food eats. Pet Nat producers include: Black Cocky, Blind Corner, Brave New Wine, Dormilona, Skigh Wine, Vallee du Venom and Vino Volta.

Chameleon No.2 – Vasse Felix
A celebration of Margaret River Chardonnay hosted by Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock, where you’ll taste an anthology of the estate’s Chardonnay culminating in the iconic Heytesbury. All paired to Chef Brendan Pratt’s degustation menu.

Aging Gracefully (October 15 + 22) – Cape Grace
A comprehensive back-vintage tasting with winemaker Conrad Tritt where you’ll get inside knowledge on selecting the perfect wine to cellar and increase your wine collecting confidence.

Mozzarella in the Cellar (October 15 + 16) – Juniper Estate
A guided wine masterclass with Juniper’s chief winemaker, a mozzarella making demonstration by La Delizia Latticini, and fresh woodfired pizzas to be enjoyed with a glass of sparkling and a voucher towards wine.

Sunday 16 October

Yum Cha Bites and Flights – Origins Market
A special tasting of five Marri Wood Park wines paired with five yum-cha inspired dishes from Little Hand Dumplings.

The Orange Party – LS Merchants
A selection of orange wine producers from across the region come together at LS Merchants’ cellar door, with Cook Digs cooking up bites and a DJ spinning tunes (dressing in orange encouraged).

The full festival program and ticket sales are available via www.finevinesfestival.com

Fine Vines Festival is proudly supported by Margaret River Wine Association, City of Busselton, Tourism WA, Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, Augusta Margaret River Shire, WithWine, Buy West East Best, WA Good Food Guide and Hire in Style.

Margaret River wine region’s outstanding wine quality and excellence at every price point was confirmed at this year’s Halliday Wine Companion Awards with the region highly awarded, including Winemaker of the Year, Dark Horse Winery and Best Value Winery.

These coveted awards celebrate the best of the best in the wine industry and the accompanying annual book also outlines the scores of individual wines and wineries across the country.

Excitingly, Margaret River is now home to more 5-star wineries than any other region. “Considering the boutique scarce production in our region, at just 2% of Australia’s national crush, this is an incredible achievement” said Amanda Whiteland – Chief Executive Officer at Margaret River Wine.   “We look forward to the Halliday Wine Companion Awards every year and we’re thrilled to see our region receive accolades for five categories.” she added.

Winemaker of the Year

Xanadu Wine Chief Winemaker, Glenn Goodall was awarded the highly anticipated accolade of Winemaker of the Year.

Award judge Erin Larkin said Glenn’s leadership, focus and attention to detail result in wines that “exude excellence at every price point.”

“Glenn is not only an exceptionally talented winemaker, but a widely loved and respected member of the industry,” Erin said.

“I’m excited and feel very honoured to receive the Halliday Winemaker of the Year award. I’ve been fortunate enough to lead the Xanadu team for many years, and winemaking is definitely a team sport. This award acknowledges everyone, including our growers, who have been involved in the Xanadu journey over the years, and I feel really proud to represent this group.” Goodall said.

Previous ‘Winemaker of the Year’ winners from Margaret River are Julian Langworthy (2019 edition) and Vanya Cullen (2020 edition).

Dark Horse Winery

L.A.S. Vino was awarded Dark Horse Winery.  Dark Horse nominees are wineries that are not new to the Companion but who have received a 5-star rating for the first time this year.

Erin Larkin said “Nic Peterkin was born with pedigree winemaking blood in his veins, but nothing bar his own ingenuity and hard work have got him to where L.A.S. Vino is today. Nic has consistently produced wines that push boundaries and show a penchant for his calculated, out-of-the-box style of thinking.”

L.A.S. – which stands for luck, art, and science – is one of Margaret River’s most cutting-edge wine labels.   Nic said it “Feels great to be recognised for the award after 9 years making wine in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

A previous Margaret River ‘Dark Horse of the Year’ winner from Margaret River is Arlewood Estate (2017 edition).

Best Value Winery

Deep Woods Estate was a very worthy winner and Margaret River led the country with two of the nine top contenders.

Best Value doesn’t mean the cheapest and Best Value Winery of the Year is closely tied to the awarding of rosettes for wines offering special value for money at their price point. With more than 1300 rosettes awarded this year, the number of value wineries vying for this award is considerable.

Previous ‘Best Value Winery of the Year’ winners from Margaret River are Domaine Naturaliste (2020 edition) and Cherubino Wines (2017 edition).

Best Varietal

From over 8,000 wines from more than 1,100 wineries tasted and reviews, two Margaret River wines shone through as Best Varietal winners.

Halliday Wine Companion editor Tyson Stelzer felt the Chardonnay category was one of the most hotly contested varietal awards. Before introducing the Chardonnay of the Year he commented that “Margaret River towered above all others” before going on the announce

Stella Bella Wines as Australia’s Best Chardonnay for its single vineyard 2020 Luminosa Chardonnay.

Flowstone Wines Queen of the Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2020 was awarded Sauvignon Blanc of the Year.  This is the fourth year that Flowstone has been given such an accolade.

Other Margaret River finalists included McHenry Hohnen Vintners for ‘Winery of the Year’, Xanadu Wines for ‘Best Value Winery’, Chris Davies of Windows Estate for ‘Viticulturist of the Year’ and Montague Estate and Trait Wines, both for ‘Best New Winery’.

The full list of results is published in the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion book and online at www.winecompanion.com.au

Wine Folly, the leading global digital wine education platform, has announced the launch of the Margaret River Region Guide, the first comprehensive digital guide to the Margaret River Wine Region and the first of its kind in Asia Pacific.

This kind of access and exploration of a remote and high-class wine region is exactly the kind of unique education experience we’re striving to bring to wine learners. This guide is driven by the wine producers of the region and showcasing wines that might never enter the awareness of the North American market,” said David Gluzman, CEO of Wine Folly.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland says “The Wine Folly website receives millions of visitors per month, and it is really exciting that Margaret River is being spotlighted as their eighth Regional Guide.

 “Margaret River is a breathtaking wine destination, that enjoys a textbook perfect climate for fine wines.  The region’s 100 cellar doors, gourmet culinary experiences, stunning coastline and nature attracts over 1.5 million overnight visitors per year.

 “We are confident that beginners to wine experts will enjoy learning more about the Margaret River wine region with Wine Folly through their fun and playful approach to wine education.

Wine Folly’s Region Guides enable learners to explore wines, wineries, and regions around the world from anywhere in the world. Producer data is supported by exclusive content created by award-winning author Madeline Puckette and Wine Folly’s Head of Wine Education, Christine Marsiglio MW.

Margaret River is the eighth Region Guide produced by Wine Folly in a constant pursuit to change wine education and discovery.

Other Wine Folly Region Guides include Napa Valley, Sicily, Bordeaux, Paso Robles, Walla Walla Valley, Alto Adige and Argentina.

Discover the Margaret River Region Guide at margaretriver.guides.winefolly.com

Margaret River is one of the most pristine and geographically secluded wine regions in the world, and it makes some of Australia’s most noteworthy wines. The producers of the region are considered boutique – with many producing less than 5000 cases annually. Rare wines and breathtaking coastal landscapes are waiting to be discovered in the new Wine Folly Region Guide.

The Wine Folly Margaret River region guide has been brought to you by the Margaret River Wine Association and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), as part of the WA Wines to the World Program.

The Margaret River Wine Association has launched a comprehensive and compelling, new 60-page Media Kit.

This powerful storytelling tool provides the most up-to-date and in-depth information about the region, validated through science, history and third-party endorsement.

CEO Amanda Whiteland says, “The objective was to create a valuable resource to help Margaret River Wine Association members, stakeholders and media to tell the Margaret River Story consistently and accurately. Never before have we had such a compelling and comprehensive tool at our fingertips.”

This project has been a few years in the making and would not have been possible without the input of the MRWA Technical sub-committee or the incredible knowledge and expertise of the team at DPIRD, as well as funding support from Wines of Western Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, as part of the WA Wines to the World Program.

The DPIRD collaboration to produce the “Geology, Soils and Climate of the Margaret River Wine Region” report was essentially the platform on which the media kit was built and provides source information and scientific credibility throughout.  Thanks to this report we had the essential maps, copy and data needed to complete the sections on geology, sustainability, maritime influence, soils and climate in the kit.

This is a living document which will be updated biannually and evolve to become even more sophisticated over time as we uncover new findings on our region.

The content is divided into the four brand pillars and each section, fact sheets and maps can be downloaded separately.

Details covered in the media kit include:

You can download the Margaret River Media Kit at www.margaretriver.wine/media

This year the Margaret River celebrated the 20th Margaret River Wine Show.  Continuing its recent winning streak, the 2020 Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay took home three trophies, including Best Chardonnay, Best White Wine and Best Wine of Show.  This adds the five trophies it had already picked up at two other wine shows earlier this year.

Larry Cherubino said, “it was great to be there and celebrate with our amazing winemaking and viticultural team.”

From the 762 Margaret River wines, submitted by 105 exhibitors, 80 wines, or 10.5% of all entries, received a gold medal, which equates to 95 points or above.

Chair of Judges Nick Ryan said at the Gala lunch, “It’s been a pleasure and privilege to lead a brilliant group of judges at this year’s Show. You can’t help but come away from a few intense days debating the region’s best confident that Margaret River is performing at an exceptionally high level and assured that it’s only going to get higher in years to come.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland said, “We believe Margaret River was the only regional wine show in Australia that has interstate judges this year, which confirms our team’s tenacity and also the desirability of an invitation to judge here.”

The Xanadu team triumphed again this year taking home five trophies, including Most Successful Exhibitor.  Xanadu Head Winemaker Glenn Goodall said, “The Margaret River Wine Show has been one of the highlights of the year for Xanadu. Performing well at our local show, amongst so many other great Margaret River producers, is always an incredible achievement for the team and our growers.

It was great to see interstate judges back at the show this year, we are obviously wrapped with the results! The icing on the cake was again being awarded the Langton’s Trophy for Wines of Provenance, especially given the pride we take in our Cabernets. It is testament to the efforts of so many people over the years at Xanadu. I’m very proud of the whole team.”

The Margaret River Wine Association was thrilled to announce the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award to lifetime wine zealot, importer and retailer John Jens, and the winners of the Viticultural and Wine Tourism Excellence Awards also. 

Langton’s 2021 Margaret River Wine Show Trophy and Awards

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Show
Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay 2020

Margaret River Wagyu Trophy for Red Wine of Show
Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Labelmakers Group Trophy for White Wine of Show
Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay 2020

Vinline Mobile Bottling Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor
Xanadu Wines

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Provenance
Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 2014, 2020

City of Busselton Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Multi-Color Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay 2020

Tonnellerie de Mercurey Trophy for Best Single Vineyard Red
McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Portavin Trophy for Best Single Vineyard White
Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2020

Cospak / Saverglass Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2018

Winequip / Lallemand Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc
Wills Domain Mystic Spring Sauvignon Blanc 2021

MR Refund Trophy for Best Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
Xanadu DJL Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2020

 My Vintner Trophy for Best Other White Blend or Varietal
tripe.Iscariot Kroos Chenin Blanc 2020

 Fusion Electrical Trophy for Best Shiraz
Stella Bella Shiraz 2020

Chr. Hansen Trophy for Best Rosé
Marq Serious Rosé 2021

 Hahn Corporation Trophy for Best Other Red Blend or Varietal
Evans & Tate Single Vineyard “Carter Road Vineyard” Malbec 2020

 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award
John Jens

 Viticultural Excellence Award – sponsored by Happs Wines
Chris Gilmore, Clairault Streicker

Wine Tourism Excellence Award – sponsored by Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association
Grace Pigram, Vasse Felix

This year, the awards were presented at a Gala luncheon rather than a dinner and the new format under a sperry tent at Swings & Roundabouts in Yallingup was well received by the 190 attendees at the sold-out celebration.

The Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show was judged at the Margaret River HEART from Monday 25 to Wednesday 27 October 2021.

Judges were (in alphabetic order by surname):
Nick Ryan (Chair of Judges) – Writer, Presenter, Communicator
Anna Pooley – Winemaker, Pooley Wines, Tasmania
Daniel Swincer – Chief Winemaker, Pernod Ricard, South Australia
Emma Farrelly – Director of Wine, State Buildings, Western Australia
Erin Larkin – Wine Writer, Halliday Wine Companion, Western Australia
Kate Laurie – Winemaker & Owner, Deviation Road, South Australia
Kim Horton – Senior Winemaker, Willow Bridge Estate, Western Australia
Liam McElhinney – General Manager & Chief Winemaker, Tasmanian Vintners, Tasmania
Tim Lovett – Senior Winemaker, Leeuwin Estate, Western Australia
Tom Wallace – Winemaker / Winery Manager, Brown Family Wine Group, Tasmania

Associate Judges were Andrew Bretheton – Deep Woods Estate, Matt Buchan – Cherubino Wines, Japo Dalli Cani – McHenry Hohnen Vintners, Matt Godfrey – Devil’s Lair, Foni Pollitt – Mayfair Lane and Feleasha Prendergast – Margaret River Vintners.

All results from the 2021 Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show are available at https://margaretriver.wine/margaret-river-wine-show/

Widely considered the biggest ambassador for Margaret River’s National Wine Show success on the planet!!

On the 29th of October 2021 the Margaret River Wine Association presented John Jens with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime commitment to Western Australia wine.

John was joined by his son, Jack Jens, and upon receiving the award to recognise his achievements, he spent his whole acceptance speech talking about everyone else’s achievements. 

“I’m grateful and I’m honoured and I’m also very very aware there are many, many other people who deserve this sort of thing.  But I can tell you I moved to the west in 1977, at the same time Margaret River and the Great Southern were opening up.  You guys have given me a reason for passion, a reason for pride, a reason for purpose and you’ve made my businesses financially.”

As Wine Writer, Nick Ryan summarised, “that says a lot about the man“.

John Jen’s Full Biography

John Henry Jens is a wine zealot, who lives for and has given his life to wine.

Born in Victoria, John attended Xavier College Melbourne, studied Commerce Arts at Santa Clara University California and later attended Roseworthy College, then Australia’s only wine educational institute.

John’s introduction to wine started at home from a young age.  He and each of his 9 siblings, from the age of 12, were not only expected to locate, decant and pour wines – from their father’s very extensive cellar.  They were also expected to taste daily and to be able to explain their views, typically on 15 to 20 year-old red wines.

He had collected 180 bottles of Penfolds Grange by the age of 24, along with 60 dozen other premium reds.

John moved to Perth in 1977 and in 1981, in the early days of Margaret River’s wine production, he started his first wine wholesale operation to represent the state’s most prominent names including Ashbrook Estate, Pierro, Moss Wood and Cullen.

John set up and managed six liquor stores under the John Jens Fine Wine banner, and in 1990 was a 50% founding partner in Devil’s Lair Wines.

John has consulted to a number of Western Australia’s small wineries and “online” specialty wine retailers.

For 40 years he has driven Australia’s largest and most comprehensive formal tasting program. These play host predominantly to WA’s and Margaret River wineries but also to some of the world’s greatest wine names – some of whom, including Chateau d’Yquem – have flown to Perth solely to host Lamont tastings.

Since 2007 John has worked during the day in Wine Importing and Retailing, and at night as a sommelier for his wife in her family’s group of Lamonts restaurants and retail outlets.

John is a regular wine industry speaker, has hosted a weekly 6PR radio wine program for many years, and for 25 years was the wine writer for the Western Suburbs Weekly.

John’s raison d’etre has always been to put the West Australian wine industry into context.  As a former professional statistician, he has more than 250,000 wine tasting notes on file and has constructed wine grids on all of Capital City Trophy winning varietal wines since 2013 – thus only recommending wines that he considered to be the best in every style and price range.

At 73 he still works 70 to 80 hours a week.

John has a steadfast commitment to Margaret River wine and his warmth and charisma that makes him such an engaging spokesperson and ambassador for the region.

 A very special project which included the coming together of so many producers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cabernet pioneers who started the journey we’re all now on.

In 2017, to celebrate 50 years of regional collaboration, all Margaret River producers were invited to submit a sample of their best single vineyard 2017 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon for this collaborative project.

Vasse Felix, Cape Mentelle, Juniper Estate, Hay Shed Hill, Leeuwin Estate, Voyager Estate, Lenton Brae, Brookland Valley, Deep Woods, Devils Lair, Heydon Estate, Xanadu, Flametree, Redgate Wines, Happs Wines, Rosily Vineyard, Stormflower Vineyard, Fraser Gallop Estate, Amelia Park Wines, Evans & Tate, McHenry Hohnen, Snake + Herring, Thompson Estate, Victory Point, Oates Ends, Ringbolt, Howard Park, Watershed, Cloudburst , Credaro Wines, Miles from Nowhere, Calneggia Family Vineyards and Swings & Roundabouts* samples were tasted blind on Friday 4 August 2017 by the winemaking team of Andrew Calliard MW, Cath Oates of Oates End, Virginia Willcock of Vasse Felix and Glenn Goodall of Xanadu Wines.

(* listed by age of vineyard)

A blend was produced using the Margaret River’s finest 2017 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon lots submitted. Oak barrels donated for the maturation included a Sylvain Grande Reserve Chateau barrel from Mastercask and an Icone Elegance barrel from Seguin Moreau.  After aging in oak for over 12 months, the final wine is a blend of the two barrels.  The wine was bottled in 2018.  372 bottles were produced and have been sold through a series of charity auctions.

The label features an original landscape artwork by leading Margaret River artist, Mary-Lynne Stratton, winner of the 50th Anniversary Wine Label Art Prize.

The wine world is seeing an explosion of interest in regional wine stories told differently.

To satiate this interest, WA Wines to the World is endeavouring to uncover new and unique content that will capture the interest of international wine trade and consumers.

New or experienced writers with a passion for telling Western Australian wine stories are invited to send a 150-word story pitch to WA Wines to the World. Successful pitch writers will then be invited to submit their stories of 1000-1500 words, for which they will be paid $1 per word (AUD).

The stories will be used in the delivery of global wine activations across the UK, USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore. These include luxury wine tourism, luxury tastings, consumer tastings, educational campaigns and social media campaigns.

Pitch Brief

Pitches should be no longer than 150 words and must explain why this is a new story/angle; how this will express a new view or perspective on Western Australian wine; and why it will be of interest to international wine engaged consumers.

To submit a pitch, please email [email protected] with your name, contact details and pitch.

The deadline for submissions is 31 October 2021.

Xanadu Wines who established one of the Margaret River first vineyards in 1977, and now is one of the country’s most acclaimed wineries, takes a step further on their sustainability journey as one of the first wineries in Australia to be applying the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) certified Trust Mark on their wine labels, starting with the DJL range.

Xanadu Senior Winemaker Glenn Goodall says, “Xanadu joined the pilot program over a decade ago, becoming certified in 2012. We always believed the program would be worthwhile, and now we are excited to be one of the first wineries to begin using the SWA trust mark on our wine labels. 

“It is a significant milestone for the whole team, which includes the much-appreciated efforts of our growers who have achieved SWA certification. It’s great to have growers joining us on our journey to continuously improve our environmental and sustainability credentials.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland says, “The use of a SWA certified trust mark assures customers and consumers of the integrity and that that the vineyards and winery have met rigorous standards of sustainability

Join us as we celebrate International Cabernet Day on Thursday 2 September, with USA wine critic Karen MacNeil as she chats with three Margaret River winemakers who are making world class Cabernet in this exciting virtual event.

Karen is the author of The Wine Bible the bestselling book on wine in the United States, as well as the creator and editor of WineSpeed.  She was also recently named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Wine Business.

On Thursday, 2 September 2021, at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET (Friday, 3 September 2021, at 8am AWST) Karen MacNeil will be introducing:

🍷Cape Mentelle with Ben Cane, Winemaker and the CAPE MENTELLE Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
🍷Vasse Felix Wines with Virginia Willcock, Chief Winemaker and the VASSE FELIX Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
🍷 Clairault Streicker with Bruce Dukes, Chief Winemaker and the CLAIRAULT Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Register HERE 

Also, if you missed the very informative Margaret River Chardonnay tasting and discussion on 25 June 2021, you can watch the Zoom recording HERE

The 2022 Halliday Wine Companion is out. 
The coveted ‘Top Rated by Variety’ list in this year’s Halliday Wine Companion represented 335 top scoring wines, including 41 Sparkling wines and 6 Fortified wines.

62 wines are from Margaret River, representing 21.5% of the still wine list.  A great result for a region which makes less than 2% of Australia’s wine.

Discover Margaret River’s Top Rated Wines by Variety!

Chardonnay
98        Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2018 – Chardonnay of the Year
98       
Cullen Kevin John 2019
98        Voyager Estate MJW Chardonnay 2018
97        Domaine Naturaliste Artus Margaret River Chardonnay 2019
97        Flametree S.R.S Wallcliffe Chardonnay 2019
97        Larry Cherubino Cherubino Chardonnay 2019
97        Larry Cherubino Dijon Wychwood Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
97        Pierro Chardonnay VR 2017
97        Stella Bella Luminosa Chardonnay 2019
97        Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2019
97        Windows Estate La Fenetre Chardonnay 2017
97        Xanadu Chardonnay 2019
97        Xanadu Stevens Road Chardonnay 2019

Semillon
96        Moss Wood Wilyabrup Semillon 2020
95        Fermoy Estate Reserve Semillon 2019 

Sauvignon Blanc
97        Cullen Legacy Sauvignon Blanc 2019
97        Flowstone Queen of the Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2019
97        Cullen Amber 2019
96        Flowstone Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2019
96        Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Elsa 2019
95        Clairault Streicker Bridgeland Block Fume Blanc 2019
95        Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc 2018
95        Redgate Ullinger Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020
95        Vasse Felix Blanc X 2020
95        Window Estate Petit Lot Fume Blanc 2019

Other Whites and Blends
96        L.A.S. Vino CBDB Chenin Blanc Dynamic Blend 2019
96        Pierro L.T.C. Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2020
96        Windows Estate Petit Lot Chenin 2019

Rose
96        Deep Woods Estate Rose 2020
95        L.A.S. Vino Albino PNO 2019
95        Larry Cherubino Willows Vineyard Rose 2020
95        Nocturne Sangiovese Nebbiolo Rose 2020

Pinot Noir
96        Moss Wood Wilyabrup Pinot Noir 2018
96        Victory Point Pinot Noir 2019 

Grenache
97        McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard GSM 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon
99        Cullen Vanya Wilyabrup Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
98        Moss Wood Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
98        Xanadu Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
97        Amelia Park Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
97        Corymbia Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
97        Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
97        Deep Woods Estate G5 Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
97        Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
97        Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
97        Nocturne Sheoak Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
97        Stella Bella Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
97        Voyager Estate MJW Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
97        Xanadu Stevens Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Cabernet and Family
98        Cullen Diana Madeline 2018
98        Cullen Diana Madeline 2019
98        Peccavi Estate Merlot 2018
97        Cullen Legacy Series Fruit Day Malbec 2019
97        Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard Cabernet Malbec 2019
97        McHenry Hohnen Vintners Rolling Stone 2017
97        Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2017
97        Wills Domain Paladin Hill Matrix 2019
96        Domaine Naturaliste Le Naturaliste Cabernet Franc 2018
96        Flametree Jeremy John Cabernet Malbec 2018
96        Juniper Estate Aquitaine Rouge 2018
96        Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Merlot 2018
96        Woodlands Emily 2019

Congratulations to all the grape growers and winemakers!

Vanya Cullen wins the inaugural Viticulturist of the Year in the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion Awards, with her wines being recognised as exemplifying best practice and sustainability in the vineyard.

Vanya was delighted and said “I feel very honoured and grateful to receive this award at this time of Cullen’s 50th anniversary and am grateful to all the many people and the land and nature herself for all the contributions towards this inaugural award win.”

The win coincides with Cullen Wines marking half a century since planting their first Cabernet vines.  Vanya noted “It’s 50 years of sustainable wine growing preceded by 65,000 years of Wadandi sustainable land care.”

Cullen Wines has been organic and certified biodynamic for more than 20 years and is the only ‘carbon positive’ winery in Australia, achieving certification in 2019. The vineyard sequesters more carbon than the business emits.

Congratulations Vanya!  We raise a glass with you to celebrate your win and the 50th anniversary since the Cullen Estate was planted in 1971.

A curated selection of seasonal wine events designed for every palate.

If there’s one thing better than a wine festival, it’s a festival that fuses the mastery of different blends with the wildness of the region and the uniqueness of its produce.

Over 10 days this October, you’re invited to celebrate the craft that has shaped the Margaret River region for over half a century and experience the ultimate in gastronomic brilliance.

Margaret River is, of course, a desirable destination in its own right, now offering a collection of unmissable, upmarket moments scattered throughout its world class wineries. Whether your skill level is ‘aficionado’ or ‘occasional drinker’, the event offering of Fine Vines Festival invites you to explore all aspects of the famed region through a blend of tastings and tours, dining experiences, masterclasses and exclusive museum wines.

Uncover which grape variety speaks to you the most; get to know the intricacies of blending Bordeaux-style wine or have an intimate exploration of the world’s original grape chameleon, Chardonnay. Patrons can peruse the full list of events on the festival website.

For those that want to discuss the difference between a Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, a selection of red based events could tickle your fancy.

See below for this week’s decanting of red wine events:

Blend it like Bordeaux – Get to know the intricacies of blending Bordeaux-style wine at Cape Grace with winemaker Conrad Tritt. Learn the structure and style traits of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec before creating a wine to suit your palate under Conrad’s astute guidance. Walk away with a new understanding of how these supporting varietals give prominence to the Margaret River Region king, Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an intimate event with limited spots available.

Syrahcentric – Lovers of Syrah and Shiraz can dive deep into the similarities and differences of these two wine styles with trophy-winning winemaker Bruce Dukes of Domaine Naturaliste. Take a tasting tour of the Rhone Valley, South Australia and return to Margaret River with six wines showcasing classic examples of these two wine styles, accompanied by a selection of charcuterie.

Vineyard to Cabernet Masterclass – Small family-run vineyards are an intrinsic part of the Margaret River Region wine fabric. Join Grace Farm’s viticulturist Tim Quinlan with cellar door manager Julie Hartley and get an insight into this winemaking world, touring the vineyard’s Cabernet Franc vines before experiencing a vertical Cabernet Sauvignon tasting from Grace Farm’s first vintage in 2011 until now. This masterclass includes ten tastings, seven Cabernets and three incredible museum reserve wines, accompanied by shared grazing platters.

Tickets are now on sale via the festival website www.finevinesfestival.com.au.

You can also discover more via the Fine Vines Festival Facebook and Instagram

Locals and visitors to the Margaret River region will couple their love for wine with a luxurious film experience this month when Australia’s premier destination film festival CinefestOZ returns to the South West for the 14th time.

Loaded with a stack of cinematic events in Margaret River as well across the areas of Augusta, Busselton, and Bunbury – CinefestOZ will have film buffs on the edge of their seats with its biggest offering yet of more than 270 exciting events.

Wine lovers not wishing to venture far from the sights of the State’s most beautiful vineyards can still be fully immersed in the action as a broad range of screenings, premieres, In Conversation dining experiences and workshops go full speed ahead right in the HEART of Margaret River.

Kick off the five-day Festival week on Tuesday August 24 at Margaret River’s Opening Night, headlined by the World Premiere of Facing Monsters. Taking place at Margaret River HEART, this intriguing documentary details a remarkable portrait of enigmatic free surfer Kerby Brown as he defies logic to take on some of the world’s most dangerous slab waves off the rugged coast of Western Australia.

Going ahead in the home of the much-loved Margaret River Pro surfing competition, viewing the World Premiere of this engaging film couldn’t be done in a better way. A red carpet event prior to the screening at 6pm will set the stage perfectly for this highly anticipated film. Back it up with an In Conversation lunch with filmmakers the following day at Burger Baby to get all the ins and outs of how this doco was brought to life.

Going ahead just down the road to open the Festival in Augusta on Wednesday August 25 will be the World Premiere of Akoni, headed by wonderful pre screening party at Augusta Community Resource Centre. CinefestOZ is thrilled to return to this beautiful town in 2021 to host such an engaging film that tells the story of a homeless Nigerian refugee who struggles to integrate into Australian society after escaping the clutches of Boko Haram.

But wait, that’s just two days of the Festival out of a whopping five! There’s still so much more to jump into while in the Margaret River Region.

Travel a little further on Thursday August 26 to the bustling hub of Bunbury for a wine experience like no other. Watch the West Australian premiere of Blind Ambition, documenting the story of four refugees who conquer all odds to become South Africa’s top sommeliers, before an intriguing virtual Q&A with the filmmakers. Then, roll on down to Mojos Restaurant to enjoy canapes and a blind wine-tasting journey of your own with experienced Sommelier, Jake Atkinson.

Friday August 27 will have you a little closer to home with the World Premiere of Film Prize Finalist, River at Orana Cinemas Busselton. River is one of four Australian films competingfor the Country’s richest Film Prize of $100,000AUD and will be backed up by a fun-filled after party at the Esplanade Hotel.

Finally, wrap the week’s festivities in the best way possible with the WA Premiere of Under the Volcano on Saturday August 28. Charting the rise and fall of AIR Studios Montserrat, the recording studio at the centre of the pop universe in the 1980s, this is a cracking film to end the week on. A pre screening event will go ahead at Margaret River HEART from 6pm and an immersive Q&A will follow.

Grab a glass of wine and view the full CinefestOZ festival program online for further insight into all the Festival has to offer.

Tickets to events can be purchased here, and the CinefestOZ App is available now for your added booking convenience.

The Decanter World Wine Awards 2021 have been announced and congratulations to the Margaret River Award Winners!

Best in Show
Fermoy Reserve Chardonnay 2019

Platinum
Stella Bella Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019
Stella Bella Luminosa Chardonnay 2019

Gold
Cape Naturaliste The Sextant Appassimento 2018
Clairault Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2017
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2020
Deep Woods Estate Grand Selection Yallingup Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Fermoy Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Forester Estate Home Block Shiraz 2019
Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Gralyn Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2018
Gralyn Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

The Decanter World Wine Awards is the world’s largest and most influential wine competition. Find out more here.

To recognise the incredible finalists considered for this year’s Halliday Wine Companion Awards, a 2022 Shortlist has been released and we’re thrilled to see so many Margaret River Wineries included.  Congratulations to –
  • Best New Winery Finalist
    LS Merchants
  • Best Value Winery Finalists
    Deep Wood Estate
    Stella Bella Wines
    Xanadu Wines
  • Dark Horse Winery Finalist
    South-by South-West
  • Viticulturalist of the Year Finalist
    Vanya Cullen, Cullen Wines
  • Winemaker of the Year Finalist
    Glenn Goodall, Xanadu Wines
  • Winery of the Year Finalists
    Cullen Wines
    McHenry Hohnen
    Moss Wood
Keep your eye out for the winner announcements on Thursday, August 12.
Find out more about the awards here.

GROWING SEASON

A good part of the vintage growing season happens in the prior year. For vintage 2021, the growing season was a mild spring in 2020, with reasonable but not extreme rainfall, which is excellent growing conditions for vines.

Budburst and flowering across all varieties were normal. Crops were good but not excessive and things looked promising from very early on.

The La Niña weather system created a strong cyclone season in the north of Western Australia resulting in increased rainfall and unusual conditions across the region.

November was significantly wet, double the long-term average, with 14 days of rain.

Fortunately, in December and January, the region experienced virtually no rain and warmer than average mean maximum temperatures.  The cool nights allowed the vines some reprieve from the hot days.

As harvest was commencing in early February, the region saw significant rainfall.  This rainfall soaked deep into the soils and was great timing for the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon to have a drink.  Warm weather and a period of high humidity (for Margaret River) followed, which increased the risk of disease pressure in some vineyards.

HARVEST CONDITIONS

“Overall a vintage of extreme weather conditions. Weather conditions resulted in a lot of work in the vineyards.  It was a season that we had to keep tweaking canopy structure and potentially taking some risks as the weather changed and it was hard to predict what was going to happen next.”  David Moulton, Cape Mentelle, Viticulturist

Early February was very windy, and then on the 7th and 8th, there was a significant rain event that had most of the region a little bit on edge.  The whites had finished veraison, so all the berries were soft, and the reds were still mid-veraison.

Marri tree blossom was moderate, therefore there was not too much bird pressure, but nets were still applied to the vines across the region.

It was quite humid for a while, which made it a bit more challenging than what the region is accustomed to. The humidity caused a bit of botrytis pressure in some vineyards and required careful fruit selection.  Growers reacted with leaf plucking across the reds to improve airflow and some fruit dropping to ensure physiological ripeness was achievable.

Reds progressed nicely into Autumn with some expressive fruit, the tannins seemed to take a little longer to evolve which saw a rush at the end to take the fruit off before cyclone Seroja hit Western Australia on 11th April.

Those who put in the extra work will no doubt reap the rewards.  As usual, the best vineyards will rise to the top.

Labour shortages deserve a mention. It necessitated a lot of pre-planning and forecasting by the wineries to ensure harvesting could be achieved when required. Many were affected and called on anyone available to help with the harvest.  Many wineries called on their cellar door staff, stranded travellers and retirees to assist with some hand picking this year.

It seems everyone across the region rolled up their sleeves and got to work to ensure that it would be another successful vintage.

THE WINES

“Across the region, the vineyard teams all look a little weary but the winemakers seem to be pleasantly surprised and excited about the quality that they have received.”  David Moulton, Cape Mentelle, Viticulturist

Early observations indicate that white varieties had incredible flavour at lower baume than usual and retained natural acidity.  There is purity and varietal expression and all at lower potential alcohol levels. Chardonnay is looking very elegant.  Sauvignon Blanc is a standout this season.

The 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon is looking great in ferment.  It has a purity and aromatic profile that should progress into a wine that will age gracefully.  The tannins are super polished and fine.

The 2021 yields were below the Margaret River long-term average but up 6% versus last year to 30,150 tonnes.

 

Image: David Moulton, Viticulturist at Cape Mentelle and the Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show 2020 Viticultural Excellence Award Winner.

Exceptional wine, extraordinary experiences –
A wine lover’s paradise at Fine Vines Festival this spring.

Wine lovers rejoice! Tickets are now on sale for Fine Vines Festival, the Margaret River region’s newest festival celebrating all things wine, with a first-release program of over 30 events taking place this spring between October 15th – 24th. The program shines a spotlight on the people, places and passion behind the region’s much-loved and highly regarded wine and offers exclusive experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

Festival goers can expect to meet the winemakers and grape growers, see first-hand where and how different wines are made, taste the difference between vintages, terroir, oak, aging methods, and blends; discover new varietals or a new appreciation for old ones; stock their cellars with new release, museum and large format wines; and of course enjoy it all in the stunning locations of the Margaret River Wine Region that spans from Busselton to Augusta.

Tickets to Fine Vines Festival events are now on sale via the festival website www.finevinesfestival.com.au.

Organisers suggest following Fine Vines Festival on social media via Facebook and Instagram for updates and to see what events are taking place. You can also visit the website www.finevinesfestival.com.au.

The Fine Vines Festival is supported by Margaret River Wine Association, Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, City of Busselton and Shire of Augusta Margaret River.

Gourmet Traveller WINE 2021 Australia’s Best Cellar Doors have been announced.

Be sure to add these six Margaret River wineries to the list for your next visit!

Check out the full list at Gourmet Traveller WINE or plan your wine trail here.

Last night we launched a new campaign video to a mix of winery, vineyard, cellar door, owners and wider community at a sundowner at Cape Mentelle vineyards.

To view, click here.

The campaign is the creative work of local trio Mark Boskell (Director), Darren McCagh – Farmhouse Films (Director of Photography and Editor), and Sophie Mathewson (Producer). The local team outsourced a sophisticated sound design from Envelope Audio.

The outcome is a film that feels cinematic and premium in execution and highlights the distinctly unique coastal positioning of the wine region. The punctuating sound design supplements the visuals and supports the overarching narrative that Margaret River wine country is quite simply, breathtaking.

Thanks also to Wine AustraliaWines of Western AustraliaShire of Augusta Margaret River and City of Busselton for funding support.

By Fergal Gleeson

The need for action on sustainability is understood by most. The weight of evidence on record breaking temperatures, unprecedented levels of carbon and melting polar ice caps is hard to ignore. Winemakers in Australia and in Margaret River have responded. Over 30 Wineries in Margaret River are members of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA).

SWA is the Australian wine industry’s sustainability program – set up to support growers and winemakers to improve the sustainability of their businesses. SWA is managed by the Australian Wine Research Institute supported by Wine Australia and Australian Grape & Wine.

Being a member requires the submission to SWA of environmental, social and economic data on energy consumption, water usage, waste and biodiversity. About half of the 30 wineries are Certified Members meaning that in addition to supplying data they are independently audited.

I spoke to three winemakers about what they are doing about sustainability and why they are doing it.

CAPE MENTELLE
Ben Cane is a Winemaker at Cape Mentelle, an Australian who has spent much of his career in California before coming to Margaret River in 2018.

“Cape Mentelle have always had a great respect for the land and we understand the privilege of owning and tending old vines”, Ben tells me. Cape Mentelle are long term members of ‘Sustainable Winegrowing Australia’ which Ben feels is important. “It’s a measure of our commitment and puts into action rather than just words how strongly we feel.”

While many people ‘talk the talk’ on environmental matters it was interesting to find out the concrete initiatives Cape Mentelle are driving.

“We have been focussed on reducing our carbon footprint in all we do in the winery, vineyard, offices and warehouses. Solar panel installation, conversion to LED lighting, more highly detailed recycling and waste separation, compost creation, elimination of herbicide use and undervine cultivation,” Ben tells me.

“We bring sheep to graze between our vines between winter and spring, which helps us avoid cultivation when soils can be wet and will be compacted by running tractors over them. We have the added benefit of receiving the manure for fertilisation from our woolly friends. This results in vastly improved soil health, which can result in better resource utilisation, less pollution and ultimately better balanced vines.”

“The biggest impact in the vineyard has been decreased water usage by using precision viticulture to highlight specific areas requiring irrigation, allowing us to reduce usage by 60% between 2016 and 2019.” Cape Mentelle are now fully water self-sufficient.

“Our water capture and recycling system is a great example of a passive flow method of solid removal using natural means allowing us to avoid town water use, capturing rain to supply Cape Mentelle. Our winery waste water is sent back through a series of detoxifying dams of reed beds that remove impurities and allow us to irrigate a wood lot.”

“Upgrading our tractor fleet to be more fuel efficient and using recycling sprayers to recapture any excess spray improve resource utilisation and reduce pollution,” Ben points out.

“Extensive use of compost and natural fertilisers help to improve our water holding capacity in the soil by building organic matter and allow the vines better means of resisting climatic change. “

“Cape Mentelle are in the final stages of attaining ISO14001 certification which is an auditable international standard of environmental practices in the winery, vineyard and all facets of our business. It’s a very rigorous program, but once again illustrates our commitment to sustainability” Ben says.

STORMFLOWER VINEYARD
David Martin is the co-owner of boutique winery Stormflower Vineyard in Wilyabrup and was a cofounder with his business partners of Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle. Their production is on a very different scale to Cape Mentelle but they are no less passionate about sustainability.

“I basically wanted to run the vineyard in way that looked after the environment as much as possible, and did not involve the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers” he tells me. “Organic certification provided a verifiable way of doing this, and Stormflower has been certified organic since 2016. Once I had certified organic grapes, the move to certified organic winemaking was the logical next step.”

“We don’t use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers. We use certified organic composts and fertilisers, we use sheep to control weeds and minimise the amount of machinery used for this purpose, and we do as little disturbance of the soil as possible.

The biggest impact that Stormflower has made has been in the use of certified organic composts and fertilisers. This encourages and enables the build-up of the soil biology, which allows the vines to take up nutrients naturally.

As well as being certified organic Stormflower are also members of SWA.

“It is important because it focusses on measuring and recording data that is different from that required for organic certification, such as the efficiency of use of water and energy, and actions taken around waste management and biodiversity” he tells me. “The discipline around keeping records of this data will encourage us to find ways to improve our performance in these areas.”

I asked David if there confusion about what ‘sustainable’ means versus other ‘green’ approaches like organic, biodynamic or natural winemaking.

“Probably, as they are very different things, a producer can have very strong certified sustainability credentials via the SWA programme without being organic, biodynamic or natural. Both “sustainable” and “natural” are ill defined terms. Even with certification, there is no specific standard of sustainability under the SWA programme. It simply means the data that is being recorded is verified.”

“Both organic and biodynamic have certification standards with respect to viticulture and winemaking. Properly done, with certified grapes, organic and biodynamic winemaking are all environmentally sustainable practices.”

David has put together a useful website on Margaret River wineries that are certified organic and biodynamic www.margaretriverorganicwine.com and those that are in progress towards it.

There are currently 5 wineries who are certified to one of the standards and whose current range of wines is entirely certified organic or biodynamic: Cullen Wines, Blind Corner, Burnside Organic, Settlers Ridge and Stormflower. Encouragingly there are 16 more on the journey. Cullen Wines is also ‘carbon negative’ which means that they are removing more carbon from the atmosphere through offsetting initiatives than they are creating.

The next steps in terms of sustainability for Stormflower Vineyard will involve enhancing the biodiversity of the vineyard through revegetation of the land that is not under vine and increasing the diversity of plants within the vineyard area.

XANADU
For long term and highly awarded Xanadu Winemaker Glenn Goodall “It really just comes down to wanting ‘to do our bit’ and to demonstrate some environmental stewardship.”

About a decade ago, the opportunity arose to get involved with an environmental pilot program and Glenn was keen for Xanadu to join so that they could benefit and improve by being part of a recognised program.

For Xanadu initiatives have included investing in equipment and practices to become more energy and water efficient, recycling, composting, reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the business. They have implemented land care plans, based on biodiversity and biosecurity on the Estate vineyards and encouraged Growers to do the same.

“In the short term I’m looking forward to finally getting the winery converted over to solar power!” he says.

For Glenn there’s no ‘silver bullet’ to sustainability. “It all adds up, but it’s the cumulative effect that results in the biggest impact, which is our attitude and endeavour to keep improving.”

“Record keeping is not a particularly ‘sexy’ aspect, however the requirement to keep accurate records around energy and water use, effluent management, biodiversity etc. means that we have got metrics that we can measure ourselves against,” he tells me.

Unlike Cape Mentelle and Stormflower, Xanadu have taken the extra step of becoming Certified Members of the SWA.

“We certainly feel that it is important to be certified,” Glenn says ”it give us peace of mind that our sustainability claims have been independently verified, and it will now permit us use of a certified trust mark – an assurance to customers and consumers of how the product is produced.”

“There is often confusion about what various claims in this space means; ‘sustainable’ does not necessarily mean organic or biodynamic, although these approaches certainly embrace sustainability! Gaining certification, in whatever approach is used, is the best way to verify how wines have been grown and made.”

For Glenn being part of the program allows Xanadu to benchmark performance against producers all around Australia.

This is perhaps the greatest benefit of working on sustainability through membership of the SWA. The sharing of information shows where there’s room for improvement.

The 2020 Margaret River Wine Association Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at a sold out Gala Dinner at Leeuwin Estate on Thursday 19 November to Dorham Mann OAM for his critical role in pioneering the Margaret River wine region.

Mann said “I am very proud to have had the opportunity to contribute in its early years to the development of wine production in the Margaret River region. From the beginning, I knew that the area’s distinctive and highly attractive varietal characters, exemplified in Cabernet Sauvignon, would ensure a wonderful future.

Dorham Mann was born in the Swan Valley on 10 May 1939. His grandfather, George Mann, made wine in the Barossa Valley at Château Tanunda; he became a winemaker at Santa Rosa in WA in 1906 , at Glen Hardy in 1908 and then at Houghton’s in 1910. Dorham’s father, Jack Mann, began work at Houghton as an apprentice in 1922 and took over from his father in 1930, ultimately completing 51 vintages at Houghton Winery.

Dorham grew up on the Houghton 600 acres property in the Swan Valley with a childhood heavily involved in wine.  He went to the University of Western Australia on a government agricultural science cadetship; he decided to become involved in viticulture due to the influence of Bill Jamieson.

One of the key recommendations of the Olmo Report in 1956 was that the Department of Agriculture should appoint an extension oenologist. Dorham was sent to Roseworthy College in 1963 to subsequently fill this role. He helped establish the experimental vineyard at Mt Barker (another Olmo Report recommendation) in 1966 to demonstrate the potential for the production of cool-climate table wines. Whilst at the Department of Agriculture, Dorham went above and beyond his role to help the early pioneers in Margaret River. He helped many with their site selections and early plantings; Sandalford and Cape Mentelle being two examples.

At the end of 1972, Dorham left the Department of Agriculture to become the Sandalford winemaker. Having seen the potential of the Margaret River region first-hand, he was motivated by a desire to help set a standard for Margaret River wines. At Sandalford from 1972 to 1987, Dorham identified and helped establish Sandalford’s Margaret River vineyard and made high-quality table wines from a range of varieties including Riesling, Verdelho, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. By the early 1980’s Sandalford was selling in excess of 20,000 cases of Margaret River Riesling per year, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, mainly to east coast markets, providing to many their first taste of Margaret River wine. At Sandalford, Dorham produced wines that won numerous gold medals and awards, including the 1978 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the highest-pointed young Cabernet at the Melbourne Show. The volume of quality wine produced and the show successes helped establish the market for and success of Margaret River-branded wine, as well as raise the profile of the region across Australia and overseas.

Dorham’s vast experience ensured that he could always be considered a reliable source of information across all segments of the production process which was particularly important at the very beginnings of vine planting and winemaking in the Margaret River region. This contribution continued after he left Sandalford with his work as a private consultant, for example at Lenton Brae, where he guided the production of the 1992 Chardonnay, awarded the best White wine of the Perth Royal Show.

Dorham Mann’s contribution to the Margaret River region is twofold; firstly, that as a Consultant, both with the Department of Agriculture and in a private capacity, and as the Senior Winemaker for Sandalford Wines.

6 decades after returning from Roseworthy in 1963, Dorham continues to make wine from his home vineyard in the Swan Valley, specialising in Méthode Champenoise.

Dorham Mann OAM Additional Information

The 2018 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon is the 2020 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge Trophy winner, scoring 97 points and taking out the top prize from 364 entries from 29 regions across the Australia.

Xanadu Senior Winemaker, Glenn Goodall said “I’m absolutely wrapped! We’ve always taken enormous pride in our Cabernet Sauvignons, so to be awarded as the Cabernet Challenge Trophy in this year’s Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge is definitely the highlight of 2020, and a huge achievement for everyone involved at Xanadu, especially our growers.

“Cabernet Sauvignon loves Margaret River, and there would have been some strong wines in the mix given 2018 was such an amazing vintage here. No doubt, in years to come everyone’s 2018 Cabernets will still be the yardstick by which such exceptional vintages are remembered, so to have our 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon recognised like this, amongst so many great Australian producers, is extremely rewarding for the whole Xanadu team.”

Last night the results of the James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge presented by Langton’s were announced on Langton’s Youtube channel and streamed to Facebook. It was great to see five regional winners presented in what was a true celebration of the world’s most planted and extremely versatile, food-friendly variety.

The streamed virtual presentation following the 3-days of virtual judging which is believed to be a world-first as it was held simultaneously in two separate judging hubs in Coonawarra and Margaret River, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions restricting judges to gather together.

The 2020 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge Regional Winners are:

Adelaide Hills Best of Region
Wines by Geoff Hardy
2018 K1 By Geoff Hardy 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – 95 points

Barossa Valley Best of Region
Casella Family Brands 2018 Peter Lehmann Wines Masters Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon – 95 points

Coonawarra Best of Region
Brand’s Laira of Coonawarra
2018 Brand’s Laira 1968 Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 points

Margaret River Best of Region and Trophy Winner
Xanadu Wines
2018 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon – 97 points

Yarra Valley Best of Region
Boat O’Craigo Wines
2018 Boat O’Craigo Braveheart Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 points

The full results are also now available to view at www.australiancabernetchallenge.com.au

Three days of simultaneous judging of 364 wine exhibits from 29 different wine regions in Coonawarra and Margaret River wrapped up the 2020 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge presented by Langton’s last week.

In what is believed to be a world first, the judging panels, stewards and organising teams connected through Zoom, Skype, telephone, social media and the AWRI wine show judging software, to make the show run smoothly.

It was a true celebration of the world’s most planted variety, and the Australian regions who champion the variety.

Margaret River Panel Chair, Robert Mann said at the commencement of Day-One that “people drink wine for enjoyment, but people drink cabernet for enlightenment”.

During the 3-days of judging, five live-crosses to the judging venues were shared on Facebook and Instagram, which have been watched by over 8,500 people to-date.   The pre-teaser CABERNET LIVE that was broadcast on International Cabernet Day has also had over 14,000 views, showing a huge interest in Cabernet Sauvignon by social media users.

Results to be announced at 6pm AWST (8pm AEST) Thursday 24th September.  We’ll be live on Langton’s Youtube channel and we’ll stream to Langton’s Facebook page too. Don’t miss out, like and subscribe!

To learn more, see www.australiancabernetchallenge.com.au

The 2020 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge presented by Langton’s has received 364 wine exhibits from 29 different regions across Australia for simultaneous judging on the 7th to 9th September in Coonawarra and Margaret River.

The Challenge is a true celebration of Cabernet Sauvignon and regions who champion the variety, with the Margaret River Wine Association, Coonawarra Vignerons and Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association collaborating on all elements of the competition.

Organisers of this year’s James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge are excited to announce a pre-teaser virtual tasting and chat session to coincide with the varietal day that falls a week before the prestigious national competition. “In the lead up to the Challenge, we’ve rounded up three all-star winemakers (and Cabernet Challenge judges) to join us for “CABERNET LIVE”, a virtual tasting on International Cabernet Day at 5pm AEST | 4.30pm ACT | 3pm AWST on Thursday 3rd September”, said Margaret River Wine Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Whiteland.

Despite having to withdraw from judging activities, Yarra Valley will be streaming CABERNET LIVE as part of our popular, weekly Thursday Wine Down sessions via Facebook Live, so follow @margaretriverwines1 @coonawarra or @ wineyarravalley1”, said Caroline Evans, Wine Yarra Valley, Chief Executive Officer.

Coonawarra Vignerons acting EO Heidi Eldridge is encouraging wine enthusiasts to tune in and be entertained “Our presenting judges/ winemakers will be tasting through a trio of past Cabernet Challenge Trophy winners from their states of origin. There will be plenty of insights and a lot of fun banter. It’s a great opportunity to compare tasting notes and sit back to learn from the masters, while enjoying your own favourite bottle of Australian Cabernet at home!”.

The wines that will be included in the tasting and discussion include last year’s James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge regional winners;

2017 Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra, 2018 Dominique Portet Fontaine from Yarra Valley and Trophy winner, 2018 Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River.

Hosted by wine writer and presenter Erin Larkin and featuring winemakers/ judges:
• Julian Langworthy, Winemaker at Deep Woods Estate / Owner at Nocturne Wines (Representing WA)
• Jane Ferrari, Independent Wine Consultant, formerly Yalumba (Representing SA)
• Ben Portet, Winemaker at Dominique Portet (Representing VIC)

Seasonal weather aside, drinking local cabernet – which also happens to be some of the very best wine in Australia – has never made more sense than it does right now.

By Erin Larkin.

As the weather cools off and the fires in our hearths (actual or otherwise) are lit, no doubt plenty of wines have been nobly sacrificed for the greater good of enjoyment.  For the inveterate cabernet drinkers out there the change in season won’t matter a jot, but if you drink with the weather, then autumn and winter mean one thing: red wine.  Whichever way that particular cookie may crumble in your house, one thing is for certain: the cabernets are starting to sweat right about now, for their time has come.  The cooler nights have you whispering as you walk past them, ‘your days are numbered, my friends’.

Margaret River enjoys an enviable position at the very top of the Australian cabernet tree, with wine press in Australia and further afield praising the wines from this little windswept corner of Oz for their high quality, age-worthiness, and deliciousness.  Margaret River’s most vocal proponent is undoubtedly James Halliday, describing in his article written for Winemaker of the Year 2020 (awarded to Vanya Cullen) “the Margaret River region is richly endowed with its percentage of 5-red-star wineries – to simply stay where you are is to imperil your very existence in this highly charged world.”  The cabernets from Margaret River are so good, that the last two Jimmy Watson trophies awarded to the region for 2014 and 2016 wines, were cabernets.  In fact, every Jimmy Watson Trophy ever awarded to a wine from Margaret River – and there have been six in total – have all been awarded to cabernet sauvignon or cab blends.  That paints a very clear picture of regional strength.  Labelled the ‘king of grapes’, cabernet has carved out an authoritative territory in Margaret River and has an escalating reputation on the rise that shows no signs of slowing down.

There is a well-established group of consistently terrific cabernet makers in the region, the likes of Cullen, Vasse Felix, Woodlands, Moss Wood, Xanadu, Deep Woods, Leeuwin… so here is a list of five you may not have had the chance to look at yet.

Five Cabernets To Try:

2017 Windows Estate Petit Lot Basket Pressed Cabernet Sauvignon – love this medium bodied, elegant and spicy cabernet, much more about the finesse than the oomph.  Brilliant packaging completes the already very attractive picture.

2018 Nocturne Wines Sheoak Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – pure, concentrated and pristine cassis fruit.  This is an elegant blockbuster.  From one of the glory vintages of the region. The cooler vintage 2019 rolling out very soon…

2018 Walsh and Sons Roi Cabernet Sauvignon – another beautiful wine/label combo, Roi is a step outside the box, one you will not regret.

2017 Victory Point Cabernet Sauvignon – Another brilliant cabernet in the hands of a small boutique producer.  Located about 15 ks east of Gracetown, and on an approximate parallel.

2016 Grace Farm Cabernet Sauvignon – nestled less than 3 ks from the coast, Grace Farm consistently produce wines of value, poise and charm.

The Margaret River Wine Association (MRWA) Board is relieved to be notified of the Geographical Indications Committee’s (GIC) decision not to determine Wilyabrup as a Geographical Indication (GI) within the Margaret River wine region (GI).

The MRWA Board holds a unified belief that the region is not yet in a position to scientifically validate where, or to what extent, uniqueness or uniformity occurs within the Margaret River GI based on the Wine Australia criteria in section 57 of the Act.

Currently, MRWA is working on an exciting study, The Margaret River Region Project (MRRP), to evaluate the links between landscape, meso climates, soil types and variations within wine produced in the Margaret River GI, particular in relation to the region’s signature varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

This project will provide the most up-to-date scientific data of where GI’s or sub-regions within the Margaret River wine region, may or may not, exist.

To date, the project has been supported by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), CSIRO, soil scientists, climate analysts, academics and experienced viticulturists and winemakers.  The study will also include sensory analysis to identify areas which are distinct in climate or soil characteristics that could set them apart from the remainder of the Margaret River region.

It is with much relief that the GIC has reached this decision, allowing time for the necessary scientific work to be completed through the Margaret River Region Project, and for any GI’s within the Margaret River wine region to be granted on the most up-to-date data and thorough scientific basis.

The GIC has published a Statement of Reasons on their determination which is available here.

The Halliday Wine Companion Awards 2021 have been announced and congratulations to the Margaret River Award Winners!

Also, to Flowstone Wines and Deep Woods Estate for being named in the Ten of the Best Value Wineries.

Download the overview of Margaret River’s Best of the Best and the 65 wineries who received a 5-star rating (11.6% of all the 5-star wineries in Australia).

LO-FI WINE IN MARGARET RIVER is riding the very front of the wave of ‘cool’ right now.  There is no doubt it is trending.  But… what is it?

By Erin Larkin

In a nutshell, while the term is officially undefined, it indicates that a wine has been made with a ‘minimal intervention’ ‘hands-off’, or ‘lo-fi’ approach in the winery.  This does NOT mean ‘lazy’, or ‘less work’, in fact it can often be quite the opposite.  Lo-fi indicates no or very few additions or adjustments throughout the fermentation process (such as but not limited to: acidification/deacidification, added tannin, chaptalisation (aka added sugar), inoculated ferments and most other tweaks that you can imagine here) and often the wines are bottled unfiltered and/or unfined.  Whether or not sulphur is added at bottling is up to the winemaker, however it does assist in maintaining freshness and stability post bottling, so not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.

These principles in the winery often follow-on from the farming practice in the vineyards.  When applied to viticultural practice, ‘lo-fi’ can refer to an avoidance of pesticides/herbicides sprays on the vines were possible, and the implementation of sheep, guinea fowl and others to assist with supporting overall biodiversity and health of the earth, the vines and the surrounding grounds.  The animals also help to keep inter-row weeds at bay, all the while contributing their manure as a natural fertiliser.  All in all, a pretty neat and logical circle of life, really.  Organics and bio-dynamics (certified or practiced) are not necessary to the lo-fi movement, but they are often part and parcel, as both methodologies eschew the use of chemicals and encourage a more ‘natural’ approach to growing grapes and making wine.

I have just referred to ‘lo-fi’ as a ‘movement’, which makes an implication about impermanence.  That is not the intention.  I firmly believe that the focus on minimal intervention in winemaking is a) not ground-breaking – it has been happening since the dawn of time in relation to winemaking, we are just coming a full circle, and b) our current fascination with it is a product of our desire as consumers in 2020 – we not only want to know more about what goes into the food and drink products that we buy and consume, we demand it.  The world has moved on into an educated space and as technology advances, and our knowledge of the impact of the chemicals we use have on the environment and our bodies expands, we become more vigilant about what we put in them.  Hence, this uncomplicated approach to growing the right clones in the right place, utilising natural defence mechanisms where possible against pests and threats to overall vineyard health, and then bringing those grapes into the winery at the right time and ushering them into the bottle, is not only the healthy choice but the most effective way of conveying the story of their place.

So apart from the obvious, isn’t that why we choose one wine over another in the first place – to taste the difference, to taste the place?

The mysterious origin of Margaret River’s much-loved Gingin clone of Chardonnay has been solved in a study recently published in the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research.

Gingin is the most planted clone of Chardonnay in the Margaret River wine region.   It is known both for its tendency to produce loose grape bunches with berries of different sizes and for making complex and elegant wines.

Introduced into Western Australia in 1957 via University of California, Davis, Gingin was believed by some to be derived from the same source material as a clone known as Old Foundation Block (OF) Chardonnay, but was also commonly thought of as being the same as another clone with similar traits, called Mendoza.

The new genomics research has revealed that all three clones have a shared heritage, in an old Californian source block at UC Davis. They are, however, quite distinct from each other.

In particular, Gingin and Mendoza are as different from each other as they are from any of the other clonal selections of Chardonnay, despite their shared origins.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland says, “This work has not only solved a decades-old mystery but it also reinforces the uniqueness of Margaret River Chardonnay, and the important part the Gingin clone plays in it the Margaret River regional story.”

By Bruce Dukes, Margaret River Agronomist and Winemaker.

The South West of Western Australia, which includes Margaret River, has been geologically stable for tens of millions of years.  The result is geologically ancient soils which are mainly parented from decomposed granite. The highly weathered soils typically have a loamy sand and gravelly surface which transitions to clay dominant at around 1 metre. The loam contributes to the nutrient and moisture holding capacity of the soil, while the interspersed ironstone gravels and sands assist in soil drainage and aeration.  The undulating topography allows for gentle slopes which favour both surface drainage of water and air.

The moderate depth and fertility of the soils allow for a sound balance between water holding and nutrient storage capacity for vine health and performance.  An excess of nutrients, including water will encourage too much growth, while a deficiency will restrict performance.  It is this moderate middle line or balance which is gives the best results in wine growing. Winter rains can be stored within the soil profile, and then gradually released to the vine as it requires it over the growing season.  As we approach Christmas, the vine has generally achieved full shoot length, corresponding to the lower levels of moisture in the soil.  Once the shoot growth has ceased, the vine then focuses on its evolutionary purpose of ripening the grapes.

Maritime Climate

Margaret River enjoys a maritime climate, characterised by cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers.  Around 80% of the 1,000mm of annual rainfall occurs during the winter months while the vines are predominantly dormant, with 20% during the growing season.  The infrequent and low amounts of summer rainfall correspond to low mildew pressures.  The plentiful winter rains originate from the west and south west, over thousands upon thousands of kilometres of uninterrupted ocean and airflows, which deliver reliable and pure rainwater.

The Indian Ocean defines Margaret River to the north and west, while the Great Southern Ocean which marks the southern boundary, while the eastern boundary is defined by the “Gladstones Line” of longitude, 118oand 30 mins.  This line runs from the town of Busselton in the north to 16 km east of Augusta in the south.  These oceanic influences moderate the environment.

The Leeuwin Current

The Leeuwin Current further stabilises and softens the Margaret River areas climate.  The sometimes-brisk Leeuwin Current begins in the warm tropical waters off the  North West  Cape of Western Australia. The current roughly follows the West Australian coastline down in a southerly direction, around Cape Naturaliste, along the west coast of Margaret River.  It then curves around Cape Leeuwin and heads across the great Australian Bight towards Tasmania. Fisherman and sailors often seek this current as it can advantage travel speeds.

Northerly winds over summer months slow down the southerly flowing and pulsing Leeuwin current.  As the northerly breezes slow over the winter months, the current strengthens, yielding warmth in winter and cooling in summer. The net effect is a softening of the Margaret River climate when compared to continents in similar latitudes which don’t have these specific current influences. The Leeuwin current is typically 2 to 3 km in width and only 20 cm deep and typically 35 km off the coastline around Margaret River.  The current is typically a few ° C warmer than the surrounding ocean in Margaret River, explaining why Southern Bluefin tuna, Western Rock lobster, and Australian salmon are prolific in our waters.  The Leeuwin current contributes to moderating temperature extremes, and enhancing the winter rainfall and reliability.

Biodiversity

The well drained and moderate fertility soils along with the gentle climate creates a very long and sympathetic growing season for grapevines.  This provides a number of different grape varieties fantastic conditions to express their personalities.  The gentle climate, along with the moderate soil temperatures in part explains why we have such diversity of microflora and fauna in the region.  The moderate soil temperatures and soil moisture profiles, which of course are great for the vines, also allow for good germination of a diverse array of seed types, which corresponds to a large amount of biodiversity. Our local hardwood species, the Jarrah tree is a great reflection of our soils and climate. This tree is very slow growing, has very high-density wood and only grows to moderate heights.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon appear very well adapted to our growing environment.  As a global locator, we could describe the Margaret River climate as being intermediate to that of Bordeaux and Napa Valley.

In a farming sense, the Margaret River climate and soils represent a set of natural conditions which have a strong sympathy to grapevine biology. Our terroir is expressed as a purity of fruit, freshness and sympathetic textures.

Read more

© Copyright by Bruce Dukes, June 2020.

Chardonnay is a grape of many names, usually shortened versions: chard, chardy, card-onnay… more, perhaps.  A most adaptable grape to site, winemaking style/input and vintage: yet it has found its mecca in Margs.

Australia is responsible for a really exciting array of chardonnays.  Really exciting.  There are some steely and mineral laden examples from Tasmania; fine, spicy and acid driven in Victoria (Yarra Valley, Beechworth etc); rich and complex from the Hunter Valley… in fact, if one was to get stuck into describing the different styles from the different regions, we would be here all day.  Suffice to say, where there are grapes there is chardonnay and like your group of friends, they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, moods, personalities and virtues.  So, what makes Margaret River such a hotspot for chardonnay?

The Gin Gin clone has a lot to do with it, but not everything.  Gin Gin is grown elsewhere and hasn’t elevated other regions to the status of Margaret River: so what is it? The clones + the maritime climate + the location of the vineyards (proximity to the oceans, angle of hills, sunshine, sea breeze and all other things) … all in combination form the unique terroir of Margaret River.  Add to that the talented winemakers who have chosen to make Margaret River their home and focus, and you’re essentially up to speed.

“an iron-clad structure, intensity with generosity, and sweet fruit with flowing natural acidity”  James Halliday

“I spent all last week tasting 2016 burgundies, but the more whites I tried, the more I lusted after the Western Australian alternatives I came across during a visit there last November.”  Jancis Robinson

 “All five of my favourites of the 22 wines, scoring 18 or 18.5 out of 20, were from Margaret River.  What’s great about them is that they have all the tension and precision (as opposed to fatness or, heaven forfend, oakiness) that is currently in vogue but, unlike many Chardonnays from the rest of Australia or even from cooler parts of California such as the extreme Sonoma Coast, they have enough fruit to counterbalance the acidity and austerity.” Jancis Robinson

The stats:

In the 2020 Wine Companion awards, Margaret River took out twenty one of the top forty two chardonnays in the country – not a bad result for a little region with a comparatively tiny (compared to national) output.

Margaret River was also responsible for five of the twelve Single Varietal awards (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon (and family), Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon Sauvignon Blends), winemaker of the year (Vanya Cullen) and Best Value Winery of the Year (Domaine Naturaliste).

The style:

The Margaret River chardonnay style is typified by the presence of ripe yellow peach, pink grapefruit acidity and a savoury salty spice character that underpins it all.  If you’ve ever read one of my chardonnay tasting notes you may notice the use of ‘curry leaf’ as a descriptor.  I find this in many of the Margaret River chardonnays, although I do not think it is a character endemic to the region.  Red apple skins, white stone fruit, brine, crushed nuts/cashews and a fine minerality all feature heavily too.  The chardonnays from Margs are distinctive from the  chardonnays from elsewhere, primarily due to the shape of the fruit profile, which to my palate, forms a comet-like shape over the palate: rounded and powerful at the front, driven and focused, with a tapering, long, fiery tail into the finish.

International Chardonnay Day is coming up on May 21st, so here are five to get you going:
Pierro Fire Gully Chardonnay 2018
Deep Woods Reserve 2018
Xanadu Stevens Road 2017 (splurge, but worth it)
Vasse Felix Heytesbury 2018 (another splurge, also worth it)
Windows Petit Lot 2017

And one for something a little bit different:
Walsh and Sons Little Poppet (Semillon/Chardonnay blend and bloody delicious, value!)

Part VI – Chardonnay’s the way

While Margaret River is renowned for producing many outstanding wine varieties, Chardonnay – along with Cabernet Sauvignon – has long stood out from the rest.

Said to mainly derive from the Gin Gin heritage clone, a high quality cutting so well suited to the Margaret River climate and topography it has long reigned supreme in the region’s vineyards, Chardonnay grapes have an intense fruit concentration that translates to complex flavours in the glass.

Chardonnay tends to vary drastically on the palate depending on where it is produced; the grapes adapt so well to their surrounding environment that the resulting wines truly encapsulate each sub-region.

Team a grape that reflects its locale with innovative and different winemaking styles, and you’ve got a variety of wine that has and will continue to surprise and impress.

Learn more about the Margaret River Wine Story – Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV & Part V.

Part V – Heritage Clones
The success of the Margaret River wine industry, as we are discovering through this series, is thanks to a number of factors, including optimum climate, ancient soils and… heritage clones.Thanks to an absence of the vine pest phylloxera, the majority of Margaret River vines have been grown from cuttings taken from high quality, existing vineyards. These cuttings, also known as clones, are created when a piece of the mother vine is cut off and either planted directly into the soil or grafted onto another vine.

Over time, two heritage clones have had a significant influence on the character of Margaret River’s distinctive Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon styles – the Gin Gin Clone and the Houghton Clone.

Gin Gin Clone

The Gin Gin clone is often acknowledged as being the key to the success of Margaret River’s award-winning Chardonnay. While its origins are shrouded in mystery, it is most recently though that the Gin Gin clone, previously known as FPS 1, was first brought to Western Australia from California by University of California Viticulture Professor Harold Olmo in 1957. It is now the predominant clone of Chardonnay grown in Margaret River today. Named after the West Australian vineyard site where it was first planted, the clone is renowned for producing grape bunches containing a variety of berry sizes, referred to as ‘hen and chicken’. The result – powerful-yet-elegant wines with complex and concentrated citrus and tropical fruit flavours.

Houghton Clone

Many of Margaret River’s greatest Cabernets were born from Houghton clones, which were originally developed by WA’s Department of Agriculture at Houghton Vineyard  in the Swan Valley from 1968 to 1970. The department sought to find vines of good health and fruit flavour, which they could then grow in the Margaret River Wine Region. Twenty one high-performing vines were selected and trialled at sites in Gingin and Frankland, before making their way to Margaret River. The Houghton Clone often displays lower vigour vines, lower yields and less herbaceous characters. On the palate, think classic blackcurrant and cassis characters that have become the quintessential markers of a fine drop of Margaret River Cab Sav.

As a remote and creative community, Margaret River wineries are rising to the regulation challenge and delivering their world-class wines and experiences in new, innovative ways.

Pyjama Wine Party

On Friday April 24 Margaret River winemaker Dylan Arvidson from LS Merchants and Fruitful Pursuits kicks-off a new way to taste wine in isolation – coming to a living room near you!

A $79 ticket gets you a three-pack of Dylan’s wine delivered to your door plus access to a 45-minute video about the wines.  The videos go live at 5pm AWST on Friday but can be viewed by ticketholders at any time once released.  Limited tickets.  Buy here.

‘Community Pack’ of wine, sanitiser and $20 to local relief

Not only does Ben Gould’s Blind Corner ‘Community 6 Pack’ include 6 organic wines, free local delivery but he is also throwing in a bottle of Sanitiser and giving $20 to a local relief fund!  That’s wine with a big dose of generosity & kindness! Buy here.

Personalised in-home tasting

With their cellar door closed the Fraser Gallop Estate team are still offering personal tasting sessions which can be arranged at a time that suits you.  During this complimentary experience, one of their wine educators will walk you through your selection of wines all from a safe distance. This private live video tasting experience is the perfect opportunity to ask your wine related questions and learn more about their wines from the comfort of your own home.

To book your in-home experience, email at [email protected] and let them know the date and time you would like.

Calling all Cheese Lovers

Goon Tycoons has partnered with Yallingup Cheese Company, one of the region’s foremost cheese companies, to delivery hampers of brie, beer-washed rind, chorizo, crackers, olives and a bottle of red for a little bit of self-isolating luxury. Deliveries are made to the Dunsborough, Yallingup, Margaret River and Cowaramup areas on Tuesday and Thursday. Busselton Wednesdays.

Your wine shopping hub

For all your wine home-delivery options on one page, click here

Margaret River Vintage 2020 has been Outstanding!

At the start of the 2020 growing season, no one would have believed the situation we are in right now. However, it is during challenging times like these that we look for a silver lining, and the silver lining for the Margaret River region is the exceptional vintage we are just wrapping up.

As the Margaret River wine industry finishes one of the most unusual harvests to date, the region raises a collective sigh of relief to have been able to complete the 2020 vintage undisrupted; without significant rain, lockdowns or the impact of bushfires and losses that sadly, some regions in other parts of Australia have had to endure. We are humbly counting our blessings.

The region enjoyed an early start to the season, with warmer than average spring temperatures evolving into the perfect summer growing conditions. Low disease pressure, timely flowering of native Marri trees to keep the birds at bay and little to no rain meant that growers could literally “take their pick” when they wanted.

Compared with the challenges of cooler weather and significant bird pressure in 2019, the 2020 vintage in Margaret River was a real treat for viticulturists. The only downside of note has been the lower than normal yields across all varieties, resulting in one of the smallest harvests in recent years.

Yet here is another silver lining… the lower yields have resulted in exceptional fruit that is physiologically ripe and shows divine concentration of aromas and flavours.

While the 2020 vintage from Margaret River will be in scarce supply, it will be a very special vintage to look out for.

Our thoughts go out to all those who have been adversely impacted by the current pandemic. We hope to raise a toast in acknowledgment of the difficult days we’ve survived when we get through to the other side of this.

Growing Season

After a significantly wet winter with rainfall 30% above average, temperatures gradually crept up to above long-term ranges while rainfall fell well below norms as spring commenced. Regular heat-waves through the months of October, November and December saw maximum daytime temperatures regularly in the mid 30’s.  These periods of high temperatures caused an acceleration in grape development, fortunately without the related sunburn which can occur if such heat occurs after veraison.

Chardonnay was first out of the blocks with an early budburst at the end of August. This allowed the soil to dry and warm, providing ideal conditions for early root growth and optimal access to nutrients. As other varieties commenced their growth, we saw development of healthy, well-balanced canopies across the region.

The growing season overall offered ideal conditions for a wide range of varieties, from early to late ripening. The beautiful weather and lower yields gave sufficient time for fruit to reach its best without the pressure of a premature harvest date due to disease or poor conditions.

Harvest Conditions

Harvest began at the end of January, the earliest start on record, brought on by lower yields and warm, dry weather which ripened the fruit more rapidly than is usual.

The warm daytime temperatures saw the first half of the vintage race along with all white grapes harvested by the end of February, a very early finish for the white’s harvest.

During this period, the season’s regular dry, sunny days provided a natural impediment to any development of disease which can thrive on humid, cloudy days.  Marri trees blossomed extensively, keeping the birds away from the vineyards.

A weak, cold front brought approximately 35mm of rain in late February to early March and daytime temperatures moderated in mid-March which was very beneficial in slowing things down and allowing softening and ripening of tannins and great flavour development. The small amount of rain was also considered a positive by those who own dry-grown vineyards.

By the end of March to early April most of the region had finished their Cabernet Sauvignon harvest, the latest ripening varietal in the region.

Yields

The 2020 yields are below the long-term average due to several factors, rather than a specific incident.  There were colder than average spring conditions in 2018 when the fruit load is determined in developing buds for the next season.  In the spring of 2019, isolated patches of hail, widespread winds and rain caused damage to vine shoots and impacted flowering and fruit-set with varieties which were at a sensitive growth stage on exposed sites in the region, creating low bunch weights. The dry growing season also contributed to lighter than average bunch weights across most varieties.

Fruit Profile

It has been a sensational Chardonnay vintage, with wonderful complexity, balance, concentration of flavours and clean, pristine fruit.  With the accelerated ripening, there is incredible retention of natural acidity, texture and loads of energy.

Sauvignon Blanc is showing excellent early floral characters while the Semillon shows richness and roundness.  The other whites have also been sensational with fruit displaying purity, freshness and excellent varietal expression.

Shiraz loved the warmth with good depth of flavour, a bright fruit spectrum and lovely tannins with medium weight.

Cabernet Sauvignon is showing excellent potential, with loads of colour, concentration, dark fruit vibrance and the standout feature of lovely fine soft tannins.

Across the board the quality is outstanding.

In 2018 Margaret River crushed just 2% of Australia’s grapes, but brought home a major part of the bacon. How did this mini little region become so mighty?

“The top rank of Margaret River Chardonnay and Cabernet is, simply put, in the top rank of the world. And by that, I’m including the likes of Burgundy (for the chardonnay) and Bordeaux and Napa Valley (for Cabernet Sauvignon).” – Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator USA

We’ve all heard the statistic about Western Australia producing just 3% of Australia’s wine yet providing more than 20% of the premium wine. Well in 2018, Margaret River crushed 37,213 tonnes of grapes, which is less than 2% of Australia’s total crush for the same year. I don’t know about you, but hearing that fact never gets old. The shine doesn’t wear off. We are living in an incredibly important time, as these are the early years of infancy, experimentation and evolution that Margaret River’s future historians will look back on with fondness and great pride. Heck – we’re proud now.

Margaret River’s greatest advocate is undoubtedly James Halliday and he has gone on record many times speaking about the high quality versus the relatively tiny output.

Margaret River’s top tier wineries collectively produce an indecent amount of Australia’s greatest chardonnays and cabernets: total production is only 3 per cent of the Australian crush but contributes 20 per cent of Australia’s top-rated wines” – James Halliday

In the 2020 Australian Wine Companion James Halliday listed 55 of his top Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blends. Margaret River was by far and away responsible for the largest representation, contributing 23 of the top 55 wines. To really spell this one out, the next highest representation was from Frankland River, with six wines. Below that, the Yarra Valley with five. McLaren Vale with five, Coonawarra with four and so on…you get the idea.

In the chardonnay ranking there was slightly more competition from the likes of Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley (with honourable mentions to Adelaide Hills, Tasmania, Beechworth and others), however Margaret River still contributed 21 of the top 40 chardonnays in Australia. Not to mention the fact that the top chardonnay of the year at 99pts was from Moss Wood (2017) and the only other chardonnay rated at 99pts was the Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay (2016).

It’s not just Halliday who thinks the wines are among the best, take a look at this tremendous haul of Cabernet Trophies at the National Wine Shows from around the country since 2014…

2014: Margaret River win 5 of 7 trophies
2015: Margaret River win 4 of 7 trophies
2016: Margaret River win all 7!
2017: Margaret River win 5 of 7 trophies
2018: Margaret River win 5 of 7 trophies
2019: Margaret River win all 7!

Margaret River has won 34 of the last 42 Capital City Wine Show Cabernet trophies and the west has about 3% of Australia’s red Bordeaux varietals and so…. Margaret River has less!” – John Jens, Lamont’s Cottesloe

Long may the reign continue.

Waiting for a rainy day to open those wines you’ve been saving?  That day, Open that Bottle Night is 29 February 2020.

Great wine is made to be shared, wouldn’t you agree? And it’s not always about cracking open the oldest bottle in your cellar (although that’s a unique story in itself!). It could be a wine you were given for your wedding, the birth of your first child or an inexpensive bottle picked up on a visit to your favourite winery.

One of the best things about enjoying special wine is the enjoyment of the stories and memories that were made through your ownership of the bottle.

To quote an oldie but a goldie – life’s too short, drink the wine! So put 29 February in your diary, gather your nearest and dearest, crack open your special bottles of Margaret River wine and make memories while remembering those tales that have been kept in the cellar for too long.

Open That Bottle Night (#OTBN) is held on the last Saturday in February each year, this year being 29 February – here’s how you can make your own #OTBN an annual tradition.

What’s Open That Bottle Night all about?

The concept of Open That Bottle Night (#OTBN) was initiated by two reporters at The Wall Street JournalDorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher wanted to encourage their readers to open a significant bottle, then to share their stories. Since its inauguration in 2000 (well before social media became mainstream), the event has become a global phenomenon, and is always held annually on the last Saturday in February.

The underlying premise of Open That Bottle Night is that wine is more than liquid in a bottle. With the opening of these wines comes a memory of life milestones, births, deaths and marriages, long-lost loved ones and treasured holidays. These memories are too precious and significant not to celebrate and share.

For those in the hospitality industry, Open That Bottle Night is an opportunity to help customers put wine on the centre stage of your tables. Why not host a BYO night at your restaurant, or at least highlight your venue’s status as BYO?

For wineries and retailers, Open That Bottle Night represents an opportunity to focus on the compelling stories about your wines and producers, and encourage customers to open and enjoy the wines they have put aside. For retailers, why not encourage staff and customers to tell the tales of all your quirky producers that you have featured in your store.

When

The last Saturday in February every year – in 2020 it’s Saturday 29 February.

How to get involved?

As a wine lover

Dig out a special wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion or purchase a new release with an interesting back-story to join in the fun.

Invite friends and family to your place, a restaurant or host an outdoor picnic while the weather is warm. Tell your guests it’s a special occasion – you provide the wine, they bring a plate. Or ask everyone to bring their own special bottle. You could also try to match the food to the wine being enjoyed that night.

So what are the stories behind the wines? Just ask a few questions and the tales will start to roll in…

In previous Open That Bottle nights, we’ve been blown away by how well the wines have drunk on the night – guests brought an old Chardonnay they found while on holidays, others opened small parcel wines they were given for a birthday and had no idea what to expect. The most memorable wines are not always the most expensive, but those that relate to a personal connection or memory.

Once the wine has been opened and tasted, post your thoughts on social media using #OTBN, or post your OTBN photos on Facebook 

Plan to do it all over again throughout the year!

Restaurants and On-Premise Venues

Be the facilitator to encourage customers to enjoy wine even more and create a bit of fun. Promote #OTBN as a chance to have a BYO night, raid your own cellars and pull out special wines you want to share. Inspire your staff to tell their own stories about wines on the list or those they’ve enjoyed in their own time. Let the quirky anecdotes about the producers on your wine list come to life.

Wineries

Is product trial a challenge for your winery? OTBN is your chance to promote range discovery. Maybe there’s a back vintage pack you can release in cellar door or to your database? A special release of small parcel wines? Or why not compile a pack of your winemaker’s favourite wines for purchase? There’s so much scope to participate and help customers share wines they may have put away for a special occasion and put your product in the spotlight.

Retailers

Why not promote a selection of wines in your store and encourage people to purchase so they can get involved in the global conversation? Maybe you have back vintage wines you’d like people to discover, or small parcels from your favourite producers that have an interesting story behind their production. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get your own customers interacting, purchasing wines or raiding their existing cellars – which may result in them returning to stock up!

Use this Open That Bottle Night Collateral!

We’ve made it easy to promote OTBN on your own social media platforms. Feel free to use the descriptions above to explain how to get involved to your consumers. The hashtag for the night is #OTBN and the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Openthatbottlenight will continue to feature stories and great products for people to discover.

To make it easy to participate, use this support material. It’s free to download and use.

Margaret River Region Online Auction for Bushfire Relief
Bidding from 11am Friday 24 January until 5pm Friday 7 February AWST
Loaded with rare wines, amazing experiences and breathtaking accommodation.  #HolidayHereThisYear
Funds raised will be split between the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund and regional causes recommended by Wine Australia and the Australian Grape & Wine.
To place a bid, visit www.32auctions.com/MargaretRiver4FireRelief

Part IV – Blessed by the weather gods

“Margaret River has the most reliable climate of all the major wine regions – indeed all – of Australia. Its latitude and the ever-present maritime influence of the Indian Ocean combine to give it high winter rainfall and a very even accumulation of heat throughout the growing season” – James Halliday, Wine Companion.

Blessed with deep, well-draining soil, the Margaret River Wine Region also boasts weather designed for growing plenty of grapes.

Did you know that grapevines favour ‘temperate’ climates, which mostly fall within distinct latitudes of 30˚ and 50˚ from the equator? With Margaret River sitting at 33°55’S, it’s no wonder the region is renowned for producing consistent crops of grapes every year.

Team Margaret River’s latitude with its proximity to the ocean and you get high winter rainfall, a dry, warm summer and low risk of frost – a prime environment for all things viticulture.

Send your favourite Margaret River Wines all over the world, thanks to our new international mixed case shipping.

It’s easy to enjoy Margaret River Wine in the comfort of your own home, even if you don’t live in Australia. Want to learn more? Ok.

The Margaret River Wine Association have teamed with 21 Margaret River wineries to bring you international mixed case shipping, which allows you to get your favourite drops delivered straight to your front door.

The Margaret River Box is perfect if you’re travelling home or visiting friends and family overseas. Taste your way around the Margaret River Wine Region, pick your favourite wines and send them almost anywhere in the world.

It’s a great option if you’re trying to avoid the high fees you could attract if you decide to book “additional baggage”, if you simply want to travel light or you want to surprise a wine aficionado friend.

The best bit? Being able to indulge on a drop of world-class wine, long after the holiday’s over.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1. Head to any one of the 21 wineries and ask one of the friendly cellar door staff for a Margaret River Box and invoice.

Step 2. Hit the road and visit your choice of wineries, filling your Margaret River Box with your top picks as you go. Please ensure staff fill in the invoice at each venue that you make a purchase.

Step 3. At the final stop, provide the cellar door staff your Margaret River Box, invoice and your personal details and they will do the rest.

Easy, right?

Rosé , amongst the lovers is a wine generally met with a smile. It speaks of summer sunsets, bright starts to long lunches, and a surprisingly eloquent ‘welcome-home-how-was-your-day’.  Choosing between them comes down to a matter of style, as does everything, and not all rosés (as we know) are created equal. The best are deliberate, focused, poised and generous, and show a bright array of flavours and textures.

Margaret River is making a really exciting variety of rosés, the best of which are scintillatingly layered, engagingly complex, and spicily dry. However, it’s challenging to talk about ‘rosé’ and ‘Margaret River’ in the same sentence, and not mention the winemaker who has sidled up and made himself synonymous with all things pink and see-through: Julian Langworthy. There is, since 2015, a rosé trophy at the Margaret River Wine Show. The winner gets a pink jacket. They’re pre-made funnily enough, in Julian’s measurements. He has won three of the past 5 Rosé trophies, so I suppose it is almost justified.

My TOP 5 of 2019:
Oates Ends Rosé 2019: Super pretty salmon colour… it’s a crushed oyster shell / pastel mandarin hue. I love the colour and would stare at it some more, were it not for the rose petals, strawberry and saffron spices wafting out of the glass. Pretty and generous. Love the texture through the mid-back palate. It’s chalky and fine, littered with fine white pepper. Wilyabrup tempranillo.

La Kooki Rosé Blonde 2019: Perfectly spiced, fine and layered, this has brilliant structure and generosity… Strawberry, hints of pomegranate and other red berries… but this is far from sweet. The Blonde is savoury and textural, driven by red currant, steered by spice, and carried through and over the palate by rippling acidity. My favourite Rosé Blonde yet – this has personality, energy and focus. M.R. Pinot Noir.

Thompson Estate Four Chambers Pinot Rosé 2019: Another Pinot Rosé, showing Goldilocks balance between ripe red berry fruit and fine exotic spice. A lovely, pure wine; ‘pretty’ was used thrice in the original note.

Nocturne Rosé 2019: The thing that really got me here, is the intensity of fruit flavour on the palate. This is concentrated. Sure: it looks good, it smells great… but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume of flavour on the palate. Big yes. Dry, textural, serious. Carbanup sangiovese, nebbiolo.

Deep Woods Harmony Rosé 2019: Can we even talk about rose from Margaret River without mentioning this little bargain? Unlikely. This is vibrant, fine, dry and knock-out value at under $15 almost everywhere you look. A surprising amount of structure and line for the price. Shiraz, tempranillo, grenache.

At the end of the day, whether you like it dry, lean and textural, generous spicy and layered, sweet, or otherwise (my personal preference is off the back of a boat over at Rotto in Summer, but we’re all different)… it’s a wine we love, and a wine we do pretty damn well here in WA.

As a little side note, since its inaugural trophy at the 2015 Margaret River Wine Show, the past five years of Rosé Trophy winners are:
2019 – Abbey Vale Premium Rosé
2018 – Coward & Black, Lady Margo Rosé
2017- Prevelli Wines, ‘Wild Thing’ Rosé
2016 – Deep Woods Harmony Rosé
2015 – Deep Woods Estate Rosé

Learn about the beautiful marri tree blossom and why it’s so significant to winemakers and viticulturalists during vintage.

Climate and soil are the most important factors when it comes to grape-growing, but did you know that the marri tree blossom plays a big part in Margaret River viticulture, too?

The marri blossom is a beautiful flower featuring fine hairs that fan out like a hat. Every year or two the flower blooms, transforming most of Margaret River’s treescape from green to yellow-white each summer.

While beautiful, there’s more to the marri blossom than meets the eye. A valuable food source for many of the region’s native animals (including the bee, which makes delicious honey from the flower’s nectar), the blossom also helps viticulturalists protect their prized grapes from hungry birds.

Just before vintage, the Margaret River wine industry turns their attention to the marri trees and their tiny flowers. The quantity of marri flowers help them estimate the amount of bird pressure they’ll have on their grapes – the more flowers on the trees, the less birds on the vine, and vice versa.

In 2019, for example, there was very little marri blossom in the region, resulting in high bird pressure. Thanks to plenty of marri blossoms all over Margaret River now, this year’s vintage is looking much more promising.

Alas, not all of the birds can be kept away by the sweet nectar of a marri blossom. To combat the birds from damaging a vineyard’s grapes, winemakers cover each of the vines with nets – a typical sight from February to April. It’s a sure-fire way to keep the birds at bay, and the grapes growing all day.

Two of Margaret River Wine Region’s founding fathers, John Evans and John Tate, are the recipients of Margaret River Wine Association’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award, recognising their contribution to the region with a friendship that began over 70 years ago..

The duo, who planted some of the first roots of a now blossoming wine industry, began their foray into winemaking in the 60s, before purchasing and establishing a Margaret River vineyard in 1974. From there, Evans & Tate was born.

Over the next few years the two Johns would go on to plant Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon vines on their property, producing their very first wine in 1978.

In 1983, Tate purchased Evan’s share of the winery and went on to produce the Evans & Tate Margaret River Classic – one of the region’s most successful wines.

Both would go on to play pivotal roles in the West Australian wine industry, and while their priorities may have changed over the years, their friendship has remained the same.

For more read Margaret River Wine Association Chair Greg Wall’s presentation speech.


Part III – An Ancient Land 
We may be a young wine region, but we’re one built on mature foundations. Foundations made, quite literally, of ancient soils.

One of the world’s most geographically isolated wine regions, Margaret River and the South West formed around 120 million years ago, with much of the wider region geologically undisturbed for tens of millions of years.

Over time, the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, which runs 100km down the middle of the Margaret River region, has created a complex network of gneiss, schist and granite-based soils; some of the oldest soil in the world.

This predominantly deep, well-drained, red gravelly loam is poor in nutrients, resulting in low vigour – the perfect environment to grow high-quality grapes.

Margaret River excelled at the 2019 National Wine Show of Australia with 6 Trophies and 18 Gold Medals.

The National Wine Show of Australia is Australia’s premier national wine show. The Show invites entries from across Australia in premium classes for table, sparkling and fortified wines. The purpose of the Show is to judge and promote the best of the best Australian wines.

Trophy Winners

Xanadu Wines

Miles From Nowhere

Stella Bella Wines

Gold Medals

 

Photo courtesy of Kerrie Brewer.

See Ray Jordan’s Top White Wines from under $40 for some inspo for your summer wine shopping list!  There are so many great Margies wines to try, whatever your mood or budget!

Best Wine
Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2018 ($39) 95 points

Best value wine
Deep Woods Ivory Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($15) 93 points

Under $15
Deep Woods Ivory Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($15) 93 points
Amelia Park Trellis Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 ($15) 89 points
Brookland Valley Verse 1 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($14.95) 90 points

$15-$20
Xanadu Exmoor Chardonnay 2018 ($20) 93 points
Flametree Embers Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($18) 89 points
Xanadu Exmoor Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 ($20) 92 points
Amberley Secret Lane Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20)88 points
Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2019 ($19) 92 points

$20-$25
Xanadu DJL Chardonnay 2018 ($25) 95 points
Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Chardonnay 2018 ($22) 91 points
Forester Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($25) 94 points
Ashbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($24.95) 91 points
Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 ($25) 92 points
Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 ($24) 94 points
Hay Shed Hill Block 1 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($23.65) 94 points
Clairault Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 ($20) 90 points
Sandalford Estate Reserve Verdelho 2019 ($25) 92 points

$25-$40
Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2018 ($39) 95 points
Xanadu Chardonnay 2017 ($39) 94 points
Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Chardonnay 2017 ($40) 94 points
Flametree Chardonnay 2018 ($29) 93 points
Voyager Estate Girt by Sea Chardonnay 2018 ($28) 92 points
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 ($32)
Thompson Estate Four Chambers Sauv Blanc Semillon 2018 ($25) 91 points
Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($27) 94 points
Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($31) 93 points
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($31) 92 points

This list has been taken from Ray Jordan’s Top 100 White Wines & Sparkling, published in The West Australian in November 2019.  The final list was chosen from nearly 600 wines submitted from all over Australia and New Zealand, which sell for $40 or less.

Full list click here

The world’s most widely planted vine and Australia’s third most planted variety, Cabernet Sauvignon, is one of Australian wine’s great success stories.

Home to the world’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines, planted in 1886 in the Barossa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon has a long and proud history in Australia.

In its fourth year, the Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge respects this history whilst celebrating the producers of Cabernet Sauvignon, who are striving to make the best possible wines that reflect a sense of place.

Whether that is the sublime subtlety from the Yarra Valley, the elegant and balanced wines from the Coonawarra terra rossa soil, the rich and decadent signature style from Margaret River or the powerful and luscious expressions from McLaren Vale,  the Challenge provides an opportunity for a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal competition of great interest.

Whilst in Margaret River last week, James Halliday recorded the results announcing the 2019 Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge Trophy winner as the 2018 Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon.  View video here.

Scoring 96 points and taking out the top prize from over 350 other entries from 25 regions across the country, the 2018 Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon was made from a selection of sites around Margaret River, in what winemaker Heather Fraser said was “near perfect Cabernet Sauvignon ripening conditions”.

The 2019 Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge Regional Winners are:

Coonawarra Best of Region
Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Great Southern Best of Region
Forest Hill Vineyard Highbury Fields Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Margaret River Best of Region
Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

McLaren Vale Best of Region
Wirra Wirra The Angelus Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Pyrenees Best of Region
Glenlofty Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Yarra Valley Best of Region
Dominique Portet Fontaine Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

The full results are also now available to view at www.australiancabernetchallenge.com.au

Cabernet Sauvignon of all vintages are eligible and judged by region without judges knowing which region they were officiating.  Wines achieving a Gold Medal score (95 points and over) were selected to determine the Best of Region wine, then each Regional Winner was judged again for the Trophy.

The Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge was conducted under the auspices of the Margaret River Wine Association in conjunction with the Langton’s 2019 Margaret River Wine Show.   The 2019 Judges were:

David Brookes – Wine Marketing Labs, Chair of Judges (New South Wales)
Joe Czerwinski – Robert Parker Wine Advocate, International Judge (New York)
Melanie Chester – Sutton Grange Estate (Victoria)
Sandrine Gimon – Wine Rage Consulting (Victoria)
Stuart Hordern – Brokenwood Wines (New South Wales)
Alex Hudak – Pure Wine Co (Victoria)
Lisa Jenkins – Mac Forbes Wines (Victoria)
Kate Laurie – Deviation Road (South Australia)
Robert Mann– Corymbia (Western Australia)
Kate Morgan – Ipso Facto Wines & Byron & Harold Estate (Western Australia)
Sarah Pidgeon – Wynns Coonawarra (South Australia)
Ben Portet – Dominique Portet (Victoria)
Daniel Swincer – Pernod Ricard (South Australia)

CONGRATULATIONS TO THIS YEAR’S TROPHY WINNERS!

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Show
Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Seguin Moreau Trophy for Red Wine of Show
Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Labelmakers Group Trophy for White Wine of Show
Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Vinline Mobile Bottling Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor
Xanadu Wines

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Provenance White
Brookland Valley Estate Chardonnay 2008, 2013, 2018

Langton’s Trophy for Wine of Provenance Red
Houghton Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, 2013, 2018

Singapore Airlines International Judge’s Trophy
Driftwood Estate Single Site Chardonnay 2018

SWAT Winery Equipment Specialists Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Multi-Color Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Tonnellerie de Mercurey Trophy for Best Single Vineyard Red
Brash Vineyard Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Portavin Trophy for Best Single Vineyard White
Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Cospak / Saverglass Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard Cabernets 2018

VA Filtration / Memstar Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc
Millbrook Regional Sauvignon Blanc 2019

BFL Trophy for Best Blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon
Clairault Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019

Saint Martin Trophy for Best Oaked White other than Chardonnay
Higher Plane Fume Blanc 2019

CHEP Trophy for Best Shiraz/Syrah
Domaine Naturaliste Rachis Margaret River Syrah 2018

Chr. Hansen Trophy for Best Rosé
Abbey Vale Premium Rosé 2019

Laffort Trophy for Best Other Blend or Varietal
Marq Malbec 2018

Happs Wines Viticultural Excellence Award
Ianto Ward, Juniper Estate

MRBTA Wine Tourism Excellence Award
Ulrika Larsson

MRWA Lifetime Achievement Award
John Evans & John Tate

2019 Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show Results Book

Two Margaret River winners announced in New York

On Tuesday 17 September two Margaret River women, Vanya Cullen and Ulrika Larsson, were announced winners of the 2019 Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA). They were both at the Ceremony to receive their awards in person.

It was a hat-trick for Vanya Cullen, winning the AWIWA Winemaker of the Year, sponsored by Tonnellerie Saint Martin, as she celebrates her 30th year of being the Cullen Senior winemaker, as well as receiving the Halliday Winemaker of the Year last month.

Ulrika Larsson from Clairault Streicker Wines was awarded the 2019 AWIWA Cellar Door Person of the Year, sponsored by Purple Giraffe.

The event was attended by nearly 40 Australian female wine producers, and the invitation only guest list also included over 100 trade, media and dignitaries.

‘I feel honoured, humbled and grateful to win the AWIWA Winemaker of the Year 2019 award.  Three generations of women, my maternal grandmother Madeline Grace Smith was a suffragette, my mother Diana Madeline a pioneering woman in Margaret River and it’s my 30th year at Cullens being senior wine maker.  What a year’, Vanya Cullen said.

‘I feel blessed and grateful to the organisers and judges of the Australian Women in Wine Awards for all their work promoting women in wine in Australia and globally and for the award.  Also, to Wine Australia for their contribution.  It’s a love story of nature, the earth, great wine, family, friends and colleagues. And what a great city to be to win. I am over the moon about it’, she said.

After 48 hours of travel to get here, Ulrika Larsson said, ‘Standing here in New York City among all the fabulous, strong and influential wine women still feels surreal.  To win this award and to be mixing with all these awesome ladies gives me confidence and inspiration to continue doing what I love, working in Cellar Door.’

The event was also live streamed to the Australian Women in Wine Facebook page and watched during breakfast and morning-tea by many across Australia, as well a group in Margaret River at the Margaret River Collective.

Amanda Whiteland, MRWA CEO said, ‘It was so fantastic to be here in New York with Vanya, Ulrika and all the other women in wine to celebrate the talent and passion we have in Margaret River’.

‘The AWIWA kicks off Wine Australia’s largest ever promotion in the USA, which also includes a six-city roadshow, which has 17 Margaret River wineries participating and is expected to attract 2,500 American wine trade attendees across the New York, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco events.’

‘This is significant opportunity for Margaret River to increase its position in the USA, the world’s largest and most attractive market, and it is great to be here waving the flag’, she said.

Wine Unearthed is Margaret River region’s new podcast series that explores the people, the extraordinary natural environment and the wineries. Get beneath the region’s skin and understand why Lonely Planet named this special part of Western Australia as its favourite place in the Asia Pacific for 2019.
With rich sounds and even richer characters, Wine Unearthed will allow you to experience the region at a deeper level. Meet an Aboriginal cultural custodian, get inside the head of a big wave surfer, hear from the family that got Sting to sing at their winery and laugh at a story of near-miss love. Oh, and there will be wine to taste too! You might just have to buy a bottle of good Margaret River red while you tune into these local sounds.

Download Wine Unearthed from Apple Podcasts or Spotify!

The podcast series is supported by the International Wine Tourism Grant funded by Wine Australia, Margaret River Wine Association, Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, South West Development Commission and Australia’s South West.

The 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Awards were presented in Melbourne on 7 August 2019 and Margaret River dominated the night winning Winemaker of the Year, Best Value Winery of the Year and the largest number of Best of Varietal Awards.

Organic and bio-dynamic winemaker, Vanya Cullen was named Winemaker of the Year at the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Awards.

I am really happy for all of Cullen Wines.  I am the face, if you like, but it is a whole team of people including the vineyard guys Matt Dermody, Andy Barrett-Lennard and everyone” she said.

This is the second year in a row that a Margaret River Winemaker has received Winemaker of the Year, with Julian Langworthy of Deep Woods Estate bringing home the award last year.

Domaine Naturaliste was named the Best Value Winery of the Year recognising the wines as both great quality and great value.

Bruce Dukes, Domaine Naturaliste’s Winemaker, emotionally said “It is an honour that out of around 2,600 produces in Australia that Domaine Naturaliste of Margaret River has been chosen by Australia’s greatest and most experienced wine expert for this award.  Margaret River has a set of natural conditions which suit the farming of grapes very well.  I feel blessed to be able to live and work in in such a wonderful region.”

The awards also saw masses of Margaret River winemakers make the trip to Melbourne to collect five Best of Varietal Awards for Best Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet and family, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.

Australia’s Best of Varietal winners were:

Amanda Whiteland, Margaret River Wine Association CEO said “James Halliday is Australia’s most influential and respected wine critic and having James and his tasting team award Margaret River wines, winemakers and wineries as the best in Australia is wonderful recognition for our region’s world-class quality, talent and unique grape growing conditions.

More major results for Margaret River wines can be found here.

The full results are published in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion, or see www.winecompanion.com.au/resources/awards/2020

Previous Margaret River Halliday Wine Companion Award Winners:

Winemaker of the Year and Best Value Winery of the Year were first awarded in the 2015 edition.

Congratulations to Settlers Tavern!

Gourmet Traveller WINE Australia’s 2019 Wine List of the Year Awards
2019 Best Wine List WA
2019, 2018 & 2017 Best Listing of WA Wines
2019 Hall of Fame

The Gourmet Traveller WINE Judges review:

Settlers Tavern was the state winner for Western Australia in the 2019 Wine list of the Year Awards.

Settlers Tavern continues to resist any easy definition. Its heart belongs to the producers and the wines of Margaret River, its home.  It offers the best listing of Margaret River wines of any restaurant anywhere, this year adding aged lovelies such as the 2005 Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon by 100ml pour via the magic of the Coravin preservation system.

Vintage. Arguably the most important date on any vignerons’ calendar, it’s when the culmination of a whole year’s worth of decision making gets picked and turned into the fine drops of wine we’ve come to know and love.

There’s certain things that producers can control every year, but it’s the things they can’t – vintners are at the mercy of the weather gods, who effect everything from grape ripening to vine health – that makes winemaking so complex and challenging.

As this year’s vintage starts to hit the shelves, let’s reflect on this year’s harvest.

A late start to harvest

The Margaret River Wine Region kicked off the year with a late harvest, starting in early March and continuing on into late April-early May – two to three weeks later than previous years.

A drop in temperature

So why the late harvest? It’s due to the drop in average temperature recorded during the months prior to vintage. Since August 2018, temperatures in the Margaret River region have been slightly cooler than annual averages logged in the region between 2010 and 2018. This is in stark contrast to weather patterns in other states’ wine regions, most of which experienced warmer climates/heat waves at the beginning of this year.

A cool advantage
“The mild, cooler weather experienced during late 2018 has been quite beneficial for ripening, while the heavy rain incident in January 2019 had no negative effect on the vines, but instead recharged the soil water for the later ripening varieties,” says Margaret River Wine Association Chief Executive Officer Amanda Whiteland. Vignerons have noted parallels with the region’s 2017 vintage, with white varieties exhibiting natural acidity and varietal characteristics well preserved by cool, extended ripening conditions.

A lower yield, but strong consistency
There was a complete absence of Marri blossom in the region, which saw pressure on crops from hungry bees, silver eyes, red cheeked honey eaters and parrots. Along with mild summer temperatures, this resulted in grape yields lower than last year, but harvested crops are showing a consistent quality that the region has long been renowned for.

A strong vintage for white varieties

Thanks to unseasonable rains in January, which helped freshen up white grapes during their final ripening phase, a strong Chardonnay vintage has been recorded by most producers, with good fruit intensity and ferments looking promising. Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are also showing great flavour for producers that braved the region’s weather events.

A long stint for red

Red varieties were set up for a long stint of tannin ripening, with vine canopies in great shape. Winemakers were thankful for beautiful weather until the end of April that allowed their red varieties to grow and develop a full ripeness prior to picking.

See the Margaret River 2019 Vintage Report here.

Lonely Planet has named Margaret River & Southern WA as the Best in Asian-Pacific 2019. It is the first time an Australian destination has taken out the top spot since Lonely Planet’s Best In lists started 15 years ago!
“Take one look at Meelup Beach and you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life: the West Australian bush parts to reveal ocean the hue of a Bombay Sapphire bottle, which is typical of the coastline stretching from Margaret River to the state’s south. Beyond the sand, some of the country’s slickest wineries, breweries and restaurants lie between tracts of tall-tree forest and kangaroo-dotted farmland.” 

We are thrilled to announce Joe Czerwinski Managing Editor, Robert Parker Wine Advocate as this year’s International Judge at the Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show and Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge, which will take place  from 28th to 31st October 2019.

“I’m looking forward to my fourth visit to Margaret River. I know from past experience that the Cabernets and Chardonnays are world class, but one of the great things about judging regional shows is that you often get to see the full gamut of what’s being produced there.” said Joe.

Joe will be joining a team of exceptional judges from around Australia led by David Brookes in his first year as Chair of Judges.

David Brookes said “Margaret River is in fine form at the moment with a wonderful run of quality vintages and uniformly excellent wines across the region. It is a great honour to step in as chair of the Margaret River Wine Show after the fantastic show results of departing chair, Corrina Wright and the wonderful job she has done for the past three years. I’m also very much looking forward to working with the cracking team of judges who have been assembled for the 2019 Margaret River Wine Show including the renown palate of our visiting international judge, Joe Czerwinski from the U.S.A.”