A Quick Guide to Majestic Margaret River
Maritime Margaret River is a beautiful mixing pot of nature, surf and wine. It’s a rare place in that it produces some of Australia’s most stylish and prized chardonnays as well as some of our most elegant and complex cabernets. On paper, it sounds like a lovechild between Bordeaux and Burgundy, but in reality, it’s not.
One of the beauties of Margaret River is the local wineries ability to merge into the countryside, rather than impose their presence. Gum trees line the roads and it’s not unusual to drive straight past your destination as the wineries tend to blend in harmoniously with their backdrop. Halliday took a shine to its nature too, ‘Stately eucalypts, gnarled banksias and ancient blackboys, their trunks blackened by centuries of bushfires, stand above carpets of flowering kangaroo paws, desert peas and countless other wildflowers.’
A few hours south of Perth, Margaret River is one of Australia’s most beautiful wine regions. Amongst the founding wineries were Vasse Felix, Cullen, Moss Wood, Voyager, Cape Mentelle, Leeuwin, Evans and Tate – all iconic representatives still standing strong today. In terms of newcomers, we take our hats off to Nocturne, Dormilona, Fraser Gallop and Flametree.
While there are no official designated sub-regions, when you get talking to the local winemakers they are quick to point out there are. Six subregions tend to stand out: Yallingup, Carbunup, Wilyabrup, Treeton, Wallclife and Karridale.
Chardonnay, Semillon, sauvignon blanc lead the charge on white grapes (chenin blanc appears too). Oak is favoured in the premium styles which complements a rich core of nectarines, peaches and orchard fruits. Chardonnay is made as a stand-alone style, providing immediate enjoyment in its youth. When you tuck it away for a few years a richer core and complexing flavours develop.
Semillon and sauvignon tend to be blended, falling into two styles. The first when made in stainless steel tanks are crisp crunchy and herbal thirst quenchers. The other premium version takes a leaf out of the Bordeaux blanc book, these are richer with a pleasing spicy oak influence.
For reds, cabernet is the chosen one and is often blended with merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. These red blends personify elegance and age-ability. The modern Margaret River cabernet carry themselves well. They’re not too heavy or boisterous and there tannins are silky and fine. There’s also some shiraz coming out of the region. These have a tempting meaty tone and a spicy core of fruit. Better still they don’t burn a hole in your pocket.
The wines of Margaret River fly the flag for modern Australian wines, a beautiful balance of fruit and workmanship.
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