Chardonnay

Tips from the Expert: Ray Jordan on WA Wine Regions

Tips from the Expert: Ray Jordan on WA Wine Regions

Margaret River, Peel, Perth Hills, Geographe, the Great Southern, the Swan Valley and many more. Come explore all of WA's unique wine regions, their history and what makes them unique with our resident wine expert.

Vasse Felix Celebrates 50 Years in Margaret River: A Colossal Celebration

Tasting in full swing at Vasse on Friday 5th May

Tasting in full swing at Vasse on Friday 5th May

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2017 marks 50 years since the first of the modern-era vineyards was planted in Margaret River, on the Vasse Felix property, by Dr Tom Cullity.  There is no doubt that there were vineyards planted in and around Margaret River prior to 1967 (as early as the 1830's), however none survived to be included in what we now class as the Margaret River wine industry.

To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the region, Vasse Felix hosted a party on the lawn by the original vines.  Each person who attended (thought to be around 350) brought a bottle of wine that was produced in Margaret River in the past 50 years.    

The view from here... straight down the line - this is what 350 wines from Margaret River's last 50 years looks like.

The view from here... straight down the line - this is what 350 wines from Margaret River's last 50 years looks like.

What is good for Vasse Felix, is good for Margaret River. And what is good for Margaret River is good for Vasse Felix
— Paul Holmes a Court, Owner

This attitude of team work, and unification of the region was a strong theme running through the panel discussion on the day.  Paul Holmes A Court addressed the crowd by saying, "Friends, family and neighbours - welcome". 

Wine celebrities on the panel were: Denis Horgan (owner/founder Leeuwin Estate); Nic Peterkin (owner/winemaker L.A.S. Vino, and son of Dr Mike Peterkin - Pierro); Robert Hill-Smith (owner Yalumba Wine Company and Samuel Smith & Sons - distribution partner Vasse Felix); Virginia Willcock (winemaker Vasse Felix) and Andrew Caillard MW (winemaker Caillard Wine, Langtons, filmmaker, MW).

Two of the many premium wines on offer on Friday.  It is perhaps unnecessary to note that both of these wines were in superb form, and illustrated with grace what aged Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.  Note the interesting watermark running vertically down the bottle on the right - this was the first time Margaret River had been displayed on the label of a Vasse Felix wine.

Two of the many premium wines on offer on Friday.  It is perhaps unnecessary to note that both of these wines were in superb form, and illustrated with grace what aged Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.  Note the interesting watermark running vertically down the bottle on the right - this was the first time Margaret River had been displayed on the label of a Vasse Felix wine.

Poured here: The 1982 Vasse Felix Hermitage, the tasting table in the background.

Poured here: The 1982 Vasse Felix Hermitage, the tasting table in the background.

SEEN: Veronica Cullity and Dr Mike Peterkin (Pierro); Dan Wegener (Somm, owner of Il Lido Italian Canteen, Cottesloe); Will Berliner (owner Cloudburst wines), Glenn Goodall and Brendan Carr (winemakers at Xanadu); Julian Langworthy (winemaker Deep Woods and current Jimmy Watson trophy holder); Luke Jolieff (winemaker Stella Bella & Len Evans scholar); Ian Parmenter (former writer for Wine Selector magazine; Peter Forrestal (wine writer); fine wine retailers John Jens (Lamonts),  Moreno Berti (RE Store) and Mike Tambouri (La Vigne); Tricia Horgan, Shelley Cullen, Janet and Zara Holmes A Court, Danielle and Jeremy Gordon (owners and winemaker Amelia Park) and many many more... 

TOP 10 WINES UNDER $20 – WHITE AND RED

We all love great wine, sure we do.  But everyone needs a weekday wine.  A Monday night wine.  A ‘cooking’ wine – some of it might even end up in the food.  So here is a list of our top 10 wines below $20 to fill the weekday nights without emptying the piggybank.

WHITES:

Houghton Stripe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2016

$9.99 – These guys get a lot of press – but they’re worth it.  You want a reliable, fresh and crisp SSB – this is it.  Change from a twenty… or two bottles – depending on how hard your day was. 90pts

Howard Park Flint Rock Chardonnay 2016

$19.99 – About 5 years ago Howard Park introduced the regionals range – same Howard Park quality that we know and love, at a fraction of the price.  Usually $25, but at LB stores for $20 91 pts

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2016

$16.99 – Sem Sav Blanc.  Vasse needs no introduction - a high-class outfit producing great wines consistently, year in, year out.  This is a cracker. 91 pts

Deep Woods Estate Chardonnay 2016

$17 – this is Margaret River’s best value, under $20 Chardonnay.  Great every year.  Over delivers complexity, flavour and length.  Love it. 93 pts

Bellewinter Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River 2016

$11.99 – bright, citrus fruit, grassy herbal notes and plenty of ripe tropical fruit.   89 pts

 

REDS:

Willow Bridge Dragonfly Cabernet Merlot 2015

$14.99 – Reds from the Geographe might seem exotic – but they shouldn’t.  A great region producing exciting wines, this being silky, spicy, plush and satisfying. 93 pts

Leeuwin Estate Siblings Shiraz 2014

$19.99 - Margs Shiraz is an underrated style.  Juicy and bright, full of life, spice and joy.  A great estate. 91 pts

Stoneberry Premium Red, WA 2015

$8.99 – Change from a ten.  Simple, juicy, bright – not complicated, just delicious.  Exclusive to LB stores. 90 pts

Amelia Park Trellis Cabernet Merlot 2015

$14.99 – We reckon this is the best Cab Merlot from Margs at this price.  Amelia Park are kicking countless goals right now.  Don’t miss out on the fun. 93 pts

Houghton Stripe Red Classic 2014

$9.99 - The pigeon pair to the SSB.  A blend of three varieties, cabernet dominant. Consistent like the sunrise. 90 pts

Deep Woods Estate Ebony Cabernet Shiraz 2015

$12.99 – Silky, juicy, plump and difficult not to finish the bottle. Love the sweet fruit VS the savoury spice.  Great every year.  92 pts

 

 

 

Cullen Chardonnay Tasting

This weekend marked my first attendance at the annual Cullen Chardonnay Tasting.

The tasting originated with founder Kevin Cullen and his desire to benchmark his own chardonnays with other chardonnays from around Australia and the world. The tasting is conducted totally masked, meaning that the assessment is absolutely unbiased, and helps to put the current status of the wine into an international and national context.

These days, the tasting consists of 21 wines from 21 different wineries from around the world. In 2016 we looked through New Zealand, Australia, France and America. 90 people attended the tasting held at Cullen’s Winery in Margaret River on Saturday the 15th of October, which was held in the barrel hall.

Vanya Cullen led the mixed group of retailers, winemakers and wine lovers through the formal tasting, and at the end of each bracket a commentator took the group through the wines and their thoughts on them. It wasn’t until the very end of the tasting that the identities of the wines were revealed.

My top pointed wines in the tasting were all Australian, 4 out of 5 of which were from WA. My top five (ok six – I had an equal top):

  • the Penfolds Yattarna (19.5/20 $150 RRP) and the Vasse Felix Heytesbury (19.5/20, $75 RRP).
  • In second place the inimitable Leeuwin Estate Art Series (19/20, $95 RRP),
  • the Xanadu Reserve (18.7/20, $85 RRP) in third,
  • in fourth was the Voyager Project 95 (18.6/20, $55 RRP) and
  • fifth place was the extraordinarily well priced Fraser Gallop Parterre (18.5/20, $39 RRP).

An astounding snapshot of 2012 chardonnay, and followed up by a long lunch at the Cullen restaurant with matched Cullen wines with each course. Guests were lucky enough to be poured the 2010 Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot from magnum – a wonderful way to sit through a rainy weekend. Tickets to the 2017 Chardonnay tasting can be purchased by joining the Cullen mailing list online.