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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. Moss Wood Amy's Vineyard Cabernet 2019 375ml
    Moss Wood Amy's Vineyard Cabernet 2019 375ml

    5/13/7/5% cabernet sauvignon/merlot/malbec/petit verdot. Hand picked, matured for 14 months in seasoned French oak. The 2019 vintage in Margaret River was cool and wet, producing wines of concentrated, high aroma and vibrancy. This is all of that, with layers of nuance on the palate. It is very restrained and long; unfurling, petal by petal, rather than revealing itself all at once. Elegant and classy to the very end. A ripper. Buy it and cellar it with confidence, or drink its beauty tonight – both viable options. ERIK LARKIN, James Halliday

    2018
    Cabernet Sauvignon
    Australia
    432
  2. 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
  3. Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2021
    Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2021

    Voyager Estate put out some of the most incredible value wines in Margaret River and we wonder sometimes why it isn't more of a household name. Well, we will keep plugging it. This comes off vines planted in 1978 and are some of the region's oldest chenin vines. This is such a wonderful example of the variety here in Australia - why isn't there more?

    Waxy citrus and pear fruits open up to a quartz kissed nose with a touch of white pepper and baked apple. There is generosity on the palate that is kicked along with the varietal's typical lively line of acid. Some pulpy texture rides the palate while the tree fruits zing and zip around the mouth all the way through to the crunchy finish.

    2021
    Chenin Blanc
    Australia
    432
  4. Reine Juliette Carignan 2019
    Reine Juliette Carignan 2019
    The Domaine Reine Juliette sits along the southern side of the modern A9, which historically was the Via Domitia which connected Italy to Spain. Guillaume and his sister Marion inherited the estate from his parents in 1985, and they are now joined by his son in working the land. Together they are the 6th and 7th generations of Allies making wine at Reine Juliette.

    Harvested early (August) to keep some freshness and also because the summer was very dry and warm. 15 days cold maceration, malolactic fermentation, aged 6 months in concrete tanks. Very drinkable Carignan. The dark fruit character shows very well with silky tannins, touch of chopped herbs and pepperiness."
    2019
    Carignan
    France
    484
  5. Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Syrah 2019
    Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Syrah 2019
    Silver - International Wine Challenge London 

    Blueberry and purple fruit notes. A purple and fine elegant style with a lovely chocolate on the palate NICK ADAMS, MW

    We love the wines of Domaine Naturalist and Bruce Dukes is a man who walks to the beat of hist own drum. The vineyards sit in the cooler Wilyabrup GI and you can see this is in the Discovery syrah that presents with fresh cracked pepper and lifted spice over smokey and meaty, blue/black fruits. Plenty of punch in a medium bodied and fleshy number. This screams cool-climate style and we look forward to more like this from Bruce. PWS

    2019
    shiraz
    Australia
    432
  6. Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Syrah 2020
    Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Syrah 2020

    This is a pretty consistent performer and bit of a go to for us at the Prince. We love the wines of Domaine Naturaliste and while they get alot of the accolades for the typical Margaret River fair of chardonnay and cabernet this is always such a great example of the cooler side of syrah.

    Perfumed and pretty with that fresh grind of black pepper sprinkled throughout a nose of black cherry, boysenberry and black berry. It's slippery with black, suave fruits and that hint of charcuterie that looks so good in this style of wine. A bit of wild, savoury spice slinks about as the wine pulls in tightly for a long and neat finish. Another great effort here.

    2019
    shiraz
    Australia
    432
  7. Nocturne SR Rose 2021
    Nocturne SR Rose 2021

    Of all things, today I’m listening to the soundtrack to “Pretty in Pink”, which is not quite yacht rock, but it’ll do for the morning session. Here we have 74% Sangiovese, 17% barrel-fermented Nebbiolo and 9% Tempranillo.

    Spicy, peppery, dried herb and floral perfume, white cherry and pink grapefruit. It’s dry with a grainy and chalky grip, subtle but engaging flavour profile, a coolness to acidity, and a dusty finish of crunch and excellent length, a little amaro tang in the aftertaste. Texture is a highlight in this high cheekboned style of rosato. GARY WALSH, The Wine Front

    2020
    Nebbiolo
    Australia
    432
  8. 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
  9. Cullen Grace Madeline 2018
    Cullen Grace Madeline 2018

    Concentration and energy to burn. A wine of complexity, velocity and depth yet scintillating freshness. Incredible persistence. Green apple, fennel, alpine herb, sea spray. Complexity for days. Amazing texture. Love this. (96) MIKE BENNIE

    A barrel-matured blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon, this is very elegant and piercingly fresh. The aromas of lemon curd, green mango, grasses and passion fruit lead to a gently creamy palate that carries seamless tropical and lemon flavors in a bright, vibrant mode. (96) NICK STOCK, jamessuckling.com

    Sensational. While the aromatic profile is quite withdrawn at the moment and the palate is tightly focused and youthfully imploded, there is al the building blocks required to see this gorgeous thing slowly unfurl in to a statuesque wine of remarkable depth of complexity. Right now it feels like a tightly wound coil waiting to explode, and when it does it is going to be magic. Cellar it for a decade and you will be in for a treat. Cellar it for two decades and this wine will entrance you. ROSCOE

    2018
    Sem/Sauv Blend
    Australia
    432
  10. Vasse Felix Premier Chardonnay 2018
    Vasse Felix Premier Chardonnay 2018
    Best Wine - Ray Jordan's Top 100 Whites & Sparklings 2019
    Another stunning chardonnay from Virginia Willcock. This is high-class stuff. Oatmeal and lemon curd on the nose, with traces of citrus. The palate is sublime. There is texture yet it is held close and controlled through to a very long finish. This was initially tasted late in 2019 and after six months, the deep complex flavours started to be released. Bewdiful. (96) RAY JORDAN
     
    This is a bit of rock ‘n' roll that performs brilliantly in Vasse Felix's chardonnay hierarchy. Perfect balance of flavours from grapefruit, lemon pith and delicate leesy-nutty characters with plenty of flint and saline. It's linear, long and pure, with a riff of acidity that keeps the band together. (96) JANE FAULKNER, Wine Companion
     
    2018
    chardonnay
    Australia
    432
  11. Vasse Felix Premier Chardonnay 2020
    Vasse Felix Premier Chardonnay 2020

    “The harvest of Chardonnay began on 30 January, which is relatively early. Sustained heat in January and February also meant a quick harvest of white varieties, with all complete by 26 February. Very rarely does the white harvest finish this early.” — Virginia Willcock.

    It’s fine-boned and flavoursome at once. I also loved both the feel and the flintiness of this from the outset. Pineapple, pear, peach and grapefruit flavours dart daringly through the palate though all-the-while there’s silky/waxy aspect to the mouthfeel. It’s beautiful, cutting, nuanced and complex. Campbell Mattinson The Wine Front

    78% Gingin clone, the balance 95, 96 & 76. Fruit from Wilyabrup, Boodjidup and Karridale. Wild ferment in barrique (34% new), matured for 10 months. The 2020 vintage was made for the Vasse Felix chardonnay style. This is seamless, concentrated, floral, intense, so smart that it elicited a little chuckle upon tasting. Notes of peach and apple skin (of course) backed by Jacaranda flowers, curry leaf, brine, crispy nori and pan fried nuts. What a wine. What a bargain for this pedigree – so classy it's ridiculous. 96 Points Erin Larkin

    2018
    chardonnay
    Australia
    432
  12. Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2020
    Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2020

    The single vineyard in the Cool Walcliffe region is planted to nine different clones of Chardonnay with each bringing different nuances to the wine.

    Eight separate blocks were hand-harvested, cooled overnight, then whole-bunch pressed and transferred to French oak (38% new) for natural fermentation. Nearly 40% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation and the wine was aged for 10 months in oak barriques, undergoing regular bâtonnage.

    2016
    chardonnay
    Australia
    432
  13. Nocturne Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
    Nocturne Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
    Winner of the Jimmy Watson Trophy for the 2014 Deepwoods Reserve Cabernet, Julian Langworthy is a much loved and respected part of the wine community. His sharp palate and masterful ways make him a weapon in the cellar. Nocturne is Julian's small label and this cabernet is his premium single vineyard red from a mature site in Yallingup called Sheoak Vineyard. It's big on flavour - cassis, lead pencil shavings and violets and very finely structured. The tannins are talcy and coat the tongue. This will develop majestically in your cellar if you can resist it in its youth.
    2020
    Cabernet Sauvignon
    Australia
    432
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