Bordeaux, Margaret River, Sout...
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
Within France, the Loire Valley region produces the greatest diversity of wine styles. The array of wines made reflects the different sub-regions that share little in common due to the region's sweeping expanse. It's an exciting mesh of sparkling, dry, sweet, rose and reds styles.
Known as the 'Garden of France' the Loire Valley is a prolific food bowl producing delectable treats across cheese, cherries, apples, butter and vegetables. Covering 1000km from east to west, this picturesque region is a feast for both your eyes and tastebuds.
White: Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet), Sauvignon Blanc
Red: Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Grolleau
The Muscadets of the Nantais are influenced by the maritime climate. These wines are subtly textured, freshly fruited and best drunk young with some oysters. Anjou is where Chenin Blanc shines in various styles - sparkling, dry and sweet. Touraine is home to the tuffeau soils which Chenin blanc loves in Vouvray, and we see some red wines here too. Lastly, in the Central Vineyards where the soils are similar to Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc is the cross-bearer producing some exhilarating wines in Sancerre and Pouilly Fume.
Pepiere, Baumard, Pierre Bise, Roches Neuves, Huet, Francois Chidaine, Didier Dageneau, Vacheron, Gerard Boulay,
Des Grande Esperances Java Rouge 2019This 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!
2019Cabernet Franc, GamayFrance484$22.00 As low as $19.80
Woodlands Wilyabrup Valley Cabernet Franc Merlot 20182018Cabernet Franc, MerlotAustralia432$30.00 As low as $27.00
Marie & Sylvie Courselle 'Le Petit Courselle' Vin de France 20202020Cabernet Franc, Merlot, shirazFrance356
Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 201660% 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.2016Cabernet Franc, MerlotFrance356
Arnaud Lambert Saumur 'Mazurique' Rouge 20202020Cabernet FrancFrance423$43.00 As low as $38.70
Arnaud Lambert Saumur Champigny Terres Rouge 20192019Cabernet FrancFrance423$45.00 As low as $40.50
Domaine du Pas Saint Martin Saumur Rouge 20192019Cabernet FrancFrance423$48.00 As low as $43.20
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Moulins Rouge 20202020Cabernet FrancFrance423Special Price $54.00 Regular Price $60.00
Thierry Germain Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny 2019The aromatics are very pretty, filled with vibrant summer fruits with a touch of rich black cherry. It feels so pretty on the palate too, fresh and bright, the dark fruits wrapped up with a floral perfume, classically Cabernet, all combined with moderately grained tannins and fresh acidity. You won't get many domaine cuvées that can beat this. CHRIS KISSACK, The Wine Doctor2019Cabernet FrancFrance423$58.00 As low as $52.20
Closiers Expression Loire Cab Franc 20192019Cabernet FrancFrance484$60.00 As low as $54.00
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Rouge 20202020Cabernet FrancFrance423Special Price $62.00 Regular Price $69.00
Arnaud Lambert Saumur Champigny Montee Des Roches 20192019Cabernet FrancFrance423$66.00 As low as $59.40
Chateau Yvonne Saumur Champigny 20182015Cabernet FrancFrance423$74.00 As low as $66.60
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Chapaudaises 20192020Cabernet FrancFrance423Special Price $108.00 Regular Price $120.00
Thierry Germain Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny Marginale 2019Whereas Terres Chaudes is limestone, this cuvée comes from clay, the soils five metres deep, the limestone beneath buried well. Again I am taken by the fresh character in what was a warm vintage, with dark and fragrant fruits especially damsons, peonies, violets and pencil shavings. This leads to a delightfully elegant poise on the palate, a medium-bodied presence but with a firm central core of tannic grip and fresh acidity too. It feels structured, firm, poised and upright, with great restraint running into a long grip of ripe tannins. This has excellent potential. CHRIS KISSACK, The Wine Doctor2019Cabernet FrancFrance423$130.00 As low as $117.00
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Arboises 20182020Cabernet FrancFrance423Special Price $153.00 Regular Price $170.00
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 DOBBIN2019Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, MerlotAustralia432$170.00 As low as $153.00