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Bordeaux



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.

Styles
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.

Grapes

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.

Favourite Producers
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
 



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.

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.

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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.

Sources:
The Wine Atlas of Australia, James Halliday


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  1. Des Grande Esperances Java Rouge 2019
    Des Grande Esperances Java Rouge 2019
    This is a cracking Blend of gamay 60% malbec 20% and cabernet Franc 20% made by the team at Domaines de Grande Esperances. They are geared towards quality production and organic farming base in the Loire Valley and working with about 24 hectares of land and 8 varietals. These are fun and delicious wines that don't take themselves to seriously but still over-deliver in spades.

    A lifted fruit punch of red fruits - think strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry and red currant that leap out of the glass. A wild spicy note carries the bold fruit turning round into lovely savoury peppery sprinkles. There is a light lick of tannin that keeps this all-in check. Yum!
    2019
    Cabernet Franc, Gamay
    France
    484
  2. Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    60% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Côt
    The Coteaux du Quercy AOC is one of France smallest wine region with only 400 hectares and less than 20 growers. It lies between Cahors & Gaillac. After the Phylloxera, the Quercy, once 50 000 hectares was almost destroyed. Roger Gisbert and his brave mates started their appellation from scratch. With high draining slopes of white clay and limestone soils, Cabernet Franc was chosen to blend with the Merlot, and off course the Cot (aka. Malbec) replanted on the rocky soils. The grapes are harvested and sorted, then fallow slow and gentle traditional fermentation.
    2016
    Cabernet Franc, Merlot
    France
    356
  3. Cullen Diana Madeline 2020
    Cullen Diana Madeline 2020

    Another beautiful, soulful release, this one a bit darker, a bit bolder, a mesh of tannins over train tracks and tension, but a wine of significant pedigree and wow factor nonetheless. Dark chocolate and graphite aromas with salted plum, black olive, bay leaf and oyster shell. Flavours ripple with authority in that weave of tannin, dark choc again, panforte perhaps more apt, dark cherry, saline minerality, more bayleaf and cinnamon spice. Succulent in the finish, mouth-watering and very fresh. Compelling stuff. (96) MIKE BENNIE, Winefront

    The Australian wine classic that remains a bargain…..
    I love the combination of bright dark fruit, savoury notes and ferrous hints in a wine that will cellar well but also offers immediate enjoyment. An impressive 97.5/100 for me.  The 2020 vintage was a hot, dry one in Margaret River. producing low yields and wines that were generally aromatic, balanced and pretty. The Diana Madeline is elegant and beguiling. The blend is largely cabernet sauvignon with smidgens of merlot, cabernet franc and malbec, which gives a Bordeaux-like refinement with mulberry, cranberry and salted caramel notes on the palate. It is a vivid wine with an eminently sensible 13% alcohol level. The 50% new French oak is already well integrated and plays second fiddle to the quality dark and fragrant fruit. (97.5) WINDSOR DOBBIN

    2019
    Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot
    Australia
    432
  4. Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2018
    Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2018
    This wine is the benchmark of the latent power, grace and inherent balance of the 2018 vintage in Margaret River. Texturally similar to the classically sophisticated 2014 vintage, but with far greater density and weight. Here, the savoury tannins are countersunk into the fruit already: shapely, firm, chewy, malleable – everywhere and nowhere at once. Waves of blood plum, cassis, blackberry, pomegranate, juniper, raspberries, saltbush, bay leaf and salted red licorice crash against the rocks, as kelp, nori, iodine, red gravel and brine ride the smaller sets out the back. Sensational. Astounding. A wine for the ages. 99 ERIN LARKIN, The Wine Companion
    2013
    Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
    Australia
    432
  5. Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2016
    Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2016

    It's a pleasure to spend time with Tom Cullity. This is all about refinement. It has a presence and a whole lot of detail. The fruit savoury and sweet, the iodine and graphite character of the malbec infused into the DNA. There are also finely chiselled tannins, lively acidity and a length like no tomorrow. Sure there's a power and energy, but the wine's defining feature is elegance. 97 Jane Faulkner The Wine Companion

    20% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot, and the rest is Cabernet. Mike and I tasted this late last year (here), blind, but it’s worth reviewing now, in its own right.

    Boysenberry, red fruits, cedar, aniseed, tobacco and new leather. It’s medium-bodied, pretty lively in the acidity department, with a blood orange tang, baking spices and black olive, mocha, and grainy tannin running with redcurrant on a firm and spiced oak finish. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

    2016
    Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
    Australia
    432
  6. Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2015
    Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Malbec 2015

    A noble blend of 78% cabernet, 20% malbec and a dollop of petit verdot, conferring ample richness and an authoritative spine: saline maritime acidity and detailed grape tannins, moreish and ripe, attesting to an extraction regime of courage and confidence. Together with extended maturation in French barrique (18 months, 50% new), the structural attributes are impressive. While this full-bodied wine demands patience, one can already detect cassis, lead, cedar, graphite, a herbal potpourri, a swab of black olive and a bay leaf linger, across cedar oak beams. 96 Ned Goodwin MW The Wine Companion

    20% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot, and the rest is Cabernet. This is the best Tom Cullity to date for me.

    Red and black fruits, dried roses, peppermint tea, cedar and spice. It’s medium bodied, fleshy and perfumed, succulent in fruit, polished fine grained tannin, oak present but not dominant, clean almost cranberry acidity, and an earthy savoury Malbec infused finish of fine length. Has a delicacy and distinctive character. 95 points Gary Walsh, The Wine Front.

    2013
    Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
    Australia
    432
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