Bordeaux, Margaret River, Cabe...
Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.
The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.
On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.
White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot
Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
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.
A few hours south of Perth, Margaret River is home to some of Australia’s greatest wineries – Cullen, Vasse Felix, Leeuwin, Moss Wood and Cape Mentelle. In terms of newcomers, we take our hats off to Nocturne, Dormilona and Flametree.
Chardonnay, semillion and sauvignon blanc lead the charge on the white grapes. Oak is favoured in the premium styles which complements a rich core of nectarines, peaches and orchard fruits. For reds, cabernet is the chosen one, and is often blended with merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. These red blends personify elegance and ageability.
The wines of Margaret River fly the flag for modern Australian wines, a beautiful balance of fruit and workmanship.
The Margaret River wine region (some 240km south of Perth) is the most important region, alon with the Great Southern in Western Australia. Its viticultural history began in the nineteenth century on a very small scale when the grandfather of Dr Kevin Cullen, founder of Cullen Wines established vineyards at Bunbury in 1890, though the vineyard site has now been absorbed by Bunburys unban suburbs. Contemporary Margaret river viticulture began in 1967 when Perth cardiologist Tom Cullity - inspired by papers written by John Gladstones from the University of WA which suggested Margaret River was a good place to grow grapes - planted the first commercial vineyard at Vasse Felix. Moss Wood, Cape Mentelle and Cullen soon followed and since then Margaret River has grown to become regarded as one of Australia's, and the world's great wine-producing regions and today there are nearly 5,500 hectares under vine and over 120 wine producers in the region.
Though warm, Margaret River's proximity to the Indian Ocean provides a moderating effect ensuring a temperate dry climate which is often likened to Bordeaux, in part due to the moderating influence of its proximity to the ocean and also due to the marked similarities between the average growing tempreture in Margaret River and Bordeaux in a dry vintage. These warm even growing conditions allow for the cultivation of a number of diverse grape varieties, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc (often blended together) does well here, producing fresh textural white wines best condumed in their youth. However, the real heroes are the world class Chardonnays (headed by Leeuwin Estate and Cullen) and Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends, Cullen and Moss Wood, that have done much to propel both the region and it's star performers on the world stage. Vasse Felix, Voyager Estate, Cullen, Moss Wood, Lenton Brae, Pierro, Fraser Gallop and Woodlands are just some of the benchmark producers.
The Wine Atlas of Australia, James Halliday