The many faces of Western Australian wines

Western Australia

I’m not sure if its 20 or 30 years since I first heard Denis Horgan (Leeuwin Estate) say “Western Australia produces just 3 per cent of Australian wine but 20 per cent of Australia’s premium wine.”  

It didn’t convince me then because the assumption was based on the higher price WA wines were asking, note I say asking. They were not always getting, especially outside the state. Although for a time there was a good market in Sydney but it dropped away as fashion often does and the wallet demands an easier bashing.

Prices became sensible and more in line with the rest of the country when it was discovered there was more wine in the warehouses than the banks were prepared to finance. Western Australia was not alone in overvaluing their wines, The Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Tasmania also had to adjust to reality.

As a PR phrase the Horgan quote worked and has traction I recently spotted it on a winery website. Realism has come to most of the Western Australia wine industry, yes there are many good wines but they sit amongst very many good Australian wines from all over the country.

There are nine GI regions (listed) in Western Australia but how many are widely known by consumers? Margaret River is way out front and has international recognition, Great Southern comes next but it’s so far behind the Margaret it counts for little. As for the rest, their recognition is unfortunately low. So low they are little known in Australia let alone overseas.

Geographe.

Great Southern.

Margaret River.

Swan District.

Manjimup.

Blackwood Valley.

Peel.

Perth Hills

Pemberton.

It wouldn’t surprise me if those consumers overseas who know Margaret River for whatever reason, do not know it’s in Western Australia . They also don’t know Barossa is in SA, Hunter Valley in NSW and Yarra Valley in Victoria.  More to the point they don’t care. The Australian obsession of pride of State accounts for little if trying to get regionally established. Although I suspect saying, “near Margaret River” will help.

 

Happy drinking and good Karma

 

Tony

 

 

All wines tasted March 2017

The Jeté trio

The Jeté sparkling wines originate from the Howard Park stable they are of consistent quality and consistency is the backbone of sparkling wine. We buy Champagne because first of all its Champagne and Champagne is considered the best there is when it comes to sparkling wine. The second reason is its consistency, we know what we are getting and have the confidence in parting with a fair chunk of money for it.

Considered is not absolute but Champagne (sparkling) has been elevated to the best there is since the middle to end of the 19th century. In the 18th century much of the regions production was still table wine.

Without going into the full history of Champagne the wealth generated by the Industrial revolution played a huge part in the rise of a wine that bubbled and radiated joy even as the cork was popped.

Australia makes many sparkling wines that can rival Champagne but quality is not reputation Champagne has it and is not going to lose it anytime soon. Australia wants it and is not likely to acquire it anytime soon. Strange as it may seem sparkling wine from the UK is gaining reputation and the retail price that goes with it. It’s just possible that if global warming inflicts a blow to the Champagne region sparkling wine from the UK will be the product that fills the void.

Which brings us back to Jeté the quality is outstanding and rivals that of many NV champagnes although I would like to see a bigger proportion of older wine blended in and in my view pinot meunier wouldn’t go amiss but that applies to a lot of Australian sparkling wine. The Brut Blanc is 91 per cent chardonnay and 9 per cent pinot noir. The NV Rose 100 per cent pinot noir. The Grand Jeté 2012 consists of 94 per cent chardonnay and 6 per cent pinot noir.

All are outstanding wines and give pleasure in every aspect there is little need to go into individual tasting notes. I point the three at 95 points and no extra for the vintage. It was different but not better and the difference is worth $40. The other two are $35 and also worth the money. The question to ask is NV Champagne worth $15 to $25 more?

Plantagenet ‘Three Lions’ Great Southern Riesling 2014: Age is starting to show the quality of the wine the lime edge gaining depth and richer/riper flavours coming into play 94 points and value at $23

Chalice Bridge ‘The Estate’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2016: It smells like chardonnay and tastes like chardonnay but that’s about it, there is a lot of chardonnay around and cheaper than the $25 asked 89 points

Chalice Bridge ‘The Quest’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2016: A little more than its companion above but not enough to get excited about, 90 points and I think overpriced at $35

Howard Park ‘Flint Rock’ Mount Barker Chardonnay 2016: Gentle nose hinting of bread/yeast very appealing, very precise pointed flavours that excite as it travels excellent food wine, 94 points good value at $28

Howard Park Western Australia Chardonnay 2016: Faint on the nose but comes alive around half way across the palate, the flavours then become complex and some are intense, it’s a wine still in youth so a mean 93 now but more will come as it develops $54 is top end price, maybe it will show better value as it ages

Churchview ‘Estate Range’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2016: Defined chardonnay nose, soft but not weak across the palate, a gentle soul 93 points and good value at $20

Churchview ‘The Bartondale’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2015: Pungent doesn’t sound right as a descriptor but this is good pungent, lots happening on the nose. In the mouth it spreads itself broadly across the palate, fortunately depth and length does come into play mid to back palate and it has a good return, 94 points $55 is top of the price range

Aylesbury Estate ‘Waterfall Gully’ Geographe Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Gorgeous nose that draws the drinker into the wine to want to taste. Playing with the wine across the palate it falls short of being great but only just, 94 points and value at $25 

Plantagenet ‘Three Lions’ Great Southern Cabernet Merlot 2014: Mulberry/plum nose, very gentle start but shifts into a higher gear about half way across the palate well balanced and easy drinking with enough edge to make it attractive at the table 93 points and worth $25

Churchview ‘St Johns’ Margaret River Cabernet Blend 2015: The rest of the blend is malbec, merlot and petit verdot. In short a typical Bordeaux mix. Complex nose giving great pleasure and changing with each sniff. Very poised on its journey every step one of elegant grace, this beauty has class, 97 points and value at $40

Churchview ‘Estate Range’ Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2014: Fresh and vibrant on the nose easy across the palate, slight green stork edge, 90 points lots of wine around at $20

Churchview ‘Estate Range’ Margaret River Shiraz 2015: Clean on the nose but giving little, strange bitter and sweet characters across the palate, not a pleasant experience at all, 87 points not worth parting with a red note for.

Røsenthal ‘The Marker’ Manjimup Shiraz 2014: Hot extracted style if it made to appear rustic they have succeeded all farmyard and livestock sheds and pens 88 points and not at all warranting $32

Røsenthal ‘Richings’ Pemberton Shiraz 2013: Light nose gentle perfume gentle and silky across the palate easy on the finish, 93 points but pricy at $42

Plantagenet ‘Three Lions’ Great Southern Shiraz 2014: Clean open nose of soft black fruits, across the palate a beautiful softness on the upper level but well supported and balanced with tannin and acid, drinking very well now, 94 points and a bargain at $25

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