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Wine

The Best McLaren Vale Wineries and Cellar Doors

Exceptional wine blends, new varieties, and ocean views abound as we present the best McLaren Vale wineries and cellar doors with this guide and interactive map

McLaren Vale is a dream to visit, with exceptional wines, regional produce and beautiful scenery nestled between the Mount Lofty Ranges and the beaches of Gulf St Vincent. The region is the gateway to the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula, which looks remarkably like much of the coastline around Lisbon in Portugal. It’s this warm, Mediterranean-style climate and proximity to the sea that explains the fantastic range of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese varieties on offer throughout the region. Expect to see TempranilloSangiovese, Touriga Nacional, Vermentino, Zinfandel, Fiano, Touriga and countless other alternative varieties on offer. There is clearly no fear of experimentation in McLaren Vale, which is evident in their superior Red Wine blends and a real sense of passion and something new evident at every winery and cellar door. You can find out more about the wines on offer in our McLaren Vale region guide.

Wine Selectors’ Tasting Panellist and Wine Show Judge, Trent Mannell is a big fan of McLaren Vale: "It's a region where the vines meet the sea, so it has a unique coastal vibe and the wines reflect the influence of the maritime climate. The cellar doors are so peaceful; it’s the most tranquil wine region I know.”

The Best McLaren Vale Wineries

Hugh Hamilton Wines

The Hugh Hamilton Wines cellar door is not to be missed during your next McLaren Vale visit. The unique setting, perched above the vines with near 270 degree views is remarkable, as is the passion for wine on show by the cellar door staff. There is a great range of wines available for tasting from their classic Shiraz through to the eclectic blends and new alternative varieties for which McLaren Vale is so famous. We recommend booking for one of the great hosted wine and cheese flights of their single vineyard wines.

94 McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 11 am to 5 pm

Visit the Hugh Hamilton website

Battle of Bosworth

This charming boutique cellar door is a must visit in the region, particularly so if you are curious about learning about organic wines. Winemaker Joch Bosworth took the reins for the family business in 1995 and began the conversion to organic practices. There is a real pride in doing things the old-fashioned way, which comes through in the fantastic examples of Touriga Nacional, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The cellar door is located just outside historic Willunga, in their restored 1850s stables, with views over the vineyards and west to St Vincent.

92 Gaffney Rd, Willunga – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 11 am to 5 pm

Visit the Battle of Bosworth website

D’Arenberg

d’Arenberg is an institution in McLaren Vale, with d’Arry Osborn and his chief winemaker son, Chester renowned for their fantastic Shiraz and Grenache. For now, the d’Arenberg cellar door is housed in their beautifully restored 19th-century homestead. In this charming setting, you can enjoy an extensive range of great wines, guided by their always entertaining cellar door staff. But not for long, soon the daring and ambitious ‘d’Arenberg Cube' will be complete. At the moment, it is more of a sight to behold, than the multi-venue cellar door it will become. But, if you’d like to keep an eye on its progress, you can watch one of their regular construction time-lapses. Find out more about The Cube and d’Arenberg in our interview with Chester here.

Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm

Visit the d’Arenberg website

Gemtree Wines

Husband and wife , Mike and Melissa run Gemtree Wines with a simple philosophy – minimal intervention in the winemaking process and a more environmentally conscious farming system to produce wines which are powerful, concentrated, and expressive of the true characteristics of each grape variety and the region. This relaxed and simple outlook translates through to the cellar door experience on their outdoor verandah with views all the way to the sea. Here you learn more about organic and biodynamic farming practices while sampling their fantastic wines, or get adventurous and explore the 10 hectare wetland eco-trail.

167 Elliott Rd, McLaren Flat – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm

Visit the Gemtree website

Leconfield Wines

Nestled amongst the vineyards with magnificent views to the Willunga escarpment, the Leconfield cellar door is the perfect place to sample Richard Hamilton’s Estate, Single Vineyard Reserve, and select Leconfield wines. With family owned vineyards in McLaren Vale, as well as the lovely vines surrounding their McLaren Vale cellar door, you are able to sample and appreciate the difference that the natural environment has on the wines. You can find out more about Chief Winemaker, Paul Gordon’s process in our recent Q&A. With platters of local regional food on offer and sweeping lawns and verandahs, the Leconfield cellar door is a delightful stop during any visit to the area.

439 Main Rd, McLaren Vale – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm

Visit the Leconfield website

Mr Riggs at the General Wine Bar

Part restaurant, part cellar door, this McLaren Vale institution is a collaboration with Zonte’s Footstep, another noted McLaren Vale winery. It is the perfect place to stop for lunch or Friday night dinner. There are fantastic wine flights on offer in which spectacular Mediterranean varieties, Shiraz, and whites are matched with morsels of contrasting and complementary dishes from Chef Ben Sommariva. Winemaker Ben Riggs is able to use his extensive contacts with growers to cherry pick fruit from McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and other premium South Australian sites. This, combined with Ben's considerable European experience, is evident in every wine available for tasting.

55a Main Rd, McLaren Flat – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily Sat-Thur 10 am to 5 pm, Fri 10 am to late

Visit the Mr. Riggs website

Oliver's Taranga

This fantastic McLaren Vale cellar door is contained within a charming original 1850s stone workers cottage, built by the first generation of the Oliver family. There is a great range of exceptional Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as small batch Fiano, Grenache, Mencia, and Sagrantino. Before you visit McLaren Vale, be sure to check their events page, as they host many novel wine and food events such as their monthly Porchetta Parties and Twilight Pizza events through to pop-up events in Adelaide.

246 Seaview Rd, McLaren Vale – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 10 am to 4 pm

Visit the Oliver’s Taranga website

Coriole

Coriole is situated in the undulating hills of McLaren Vale, within sight of the sea. The small and boutique cellar door is found in the old ironstone barn built in 1860 and is surrounded by the Estate vineyards.  Coriole is famous for pioneering alternative varieties in the region, namely Sangiovese in 1985 and the release of Australia's first Fiano in 2005. Their diverse range includes Sangiovese, Barbera,, Fiano, Picpoul, Nero d’Avola through to exquisite examples of the classic varieties, Shiraz and Cab Sav.

Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale - view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Mon – Fri 10 am to 5 pm, Sat – Sun 11 am to 5 pm

Visit the Coriole website

Penny's Hill

Set on the historic Ingleburn property and its stunning grounds, this charming winery is the perfect place to stop for lunch during your travels through McLaren Vale. Indulge in the Kitchen Door Restaurant before wandering through the Red Dot Gallery or visiting the farmyard animals. Winemaker Alexia Roberts has picked up a swag of wine show wins recently, including the World’s Best Cabernet at the Concours International des Cabernets in France, as well as Best Australian Red in Show at Mundus Vini Germany for the past two years running. This talent is very obvious in the premium wines available for tasting.

281 Main Rd, McLaren Vale – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm

Visit the Penny’s Hill website

Serafino

Steve (Serafino) Maglieri arrived in Adelaide in 1964 as a teenager from Italy with little more than a passionate dream to make great wine. After many highs and a few lows in the wine industry, eventually the Serafino label emerged and the Maglieri family was able to craft their own piece of paradise amongst the gumtrees of their McLaren Vale winery. The warm, friendly and familiar ethos of Serafino is evident in the cellar door, charming restaurant, and four-star accommodation. As such, it is the perfect place to base yourself during a weekend getaway. There is a great range of Italian and alternative varieties such as the Bellissimo series of Vermentino, Fiano and Montepulciano through to reserve Grenache and Shiraz.

Kangarilla Rd, McLaren Vale – view on our McLaren Vale winery map

Open Daily 10 am to 4:30 pm

Visit the Serafino website

Mclaren Vale Winery Map

 Planning a trip to McLaren Vale? Download our interactive McLaren Vale winery map. To save on your browser or device, click here

For more information on visiting McLaren Vale, be sure to visit the official McLaren Vale region website or stop by the McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Visitor Information Centre in the centre of town. But, if you’d like to sample some of the wineries listed in this guide before you visit, explore our wide selection of McLaren Vale wines and find out more about the wineries listed here in our Meet the Makers section.

With the Wine Selectors Regional Release program, you'll experience a different wine region each release with all wines expertly selected by our Tasting Panel, plus you’ll receive comprehensive tasting notes and fascinating insights into each region. Visit our Regular Deliveries page to find out more! 

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Five of the Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries and Cellar Doors
Words by Ben Hallinan on 27 Jun 2017
Exceptional  Pinot Gris ,  Chardonnay ,  Pinot Noir , and boutique cellar doors abound as we present the best Mornington Peninsula wineries to visit. Just an hour drive from the centre of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula has long been known as the home of beaches, colourful swimming boxes and holiday houses. Since the early 1980s Mornington has emerged as one of the Australia's premier cool-climate wine regions. With its many sheltered valleys and a maritime cool climate, it's now home to over 200 wineries producing award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. To help plan your trip, we've selected a collection of Mornington Peninsula wineries we feel provide the best cellar door experience, plus we've included a  handy interactive map down below . Crittenden Wine Centre
Crittenden Wines  are an icon of the Mornington Peninsula, helping to establish the region's reputation for superb cool-climate wines since the early 1980s. Today, the new Crittenden Wine Centre is the perfect place to sample a wide range of wines. Sit back and enjoy relaxed table service and be guided through a customized flight of wines by knowledgeable and friendly staff. There is a superb range of over two dozen wines on offer, from excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir through to innovative alternative varietals such as Vermentino, Savagnin and Tempranillo under their Los Hermanos and Pinocchio labels. 25 Harrisons Rd, Dromana, VIC -  View on our Mornington map Open daily 10:30 am to 4:30pm Visit the Crittenden Wine Centre website Quealy Winery Cellar Door
If you're a fan of Pinot Gris then a visit to the Quealy Winery Cellar Door should be the first cellar door on your list -  Australian wine lovers can arguably thank Kathleen Quealy for introducing us to this vibrant style.  At this charming cellar door, passionate hosts are on hand to guide you through the eclectic range of wines each with a characteristic and innovative winemaking style. You'll enjoy an amazing collection from sparkling wines and skin-contact whites to single vineyard Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir,  and cool climate Muscat dessert wines. You're in good hands here. 62 Bittern-Dromana Rd, Balnarring, VIC -  View on our Mornington map Open daily 9am to 5pm Visit the Quealy website Red Hill Estate
Established in 1989, this salt of the earth winery and cellar door was one of the first in the region and helped establish the Mornington Peninsula's reputation for outstanding cool-climate wines. There is a superb range of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Shiraz and Sparkling available to sample, with fruit sourced from their three estate vineyards. This is a great way to contrast the subtle differences that each vineyard imparts and to also appreciate the talents of winemaker Donna Stephens. Make sure you take the time to step outside and take in the magnificent view - it's one of the best in the region and looks over the vines out towards Western Port Bay. 53 Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South, VIC -  View on our Mornington map Open daily 11am to 5pm Visit the Red Hill Estate website Rare Hare
Rare Hare is the Peninsula's latest restaurant, wine bar, produce store and the new home of Willow Creek Wines and is not to be missed during your next visit. Enjoy a casual wine tasting at the wine bar or call ahead to book a guided tasting with one of the cellar door team in the barrel room. Afterwards, take in the panoramic views over the Willow Creek vines and enjoy innovative modern Australian fare in the restaurant courtesy of executive chef Guy Stanaway. Why not book a room and stay a night at  Jackalope Hotel , the region's latest luxury offering, that's just a short hop from the cellar door. 166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North, VIC -  View on our Mornington map Open Mon to Thur 11am to 5pm and Fri to Sun 11am to 9pm  Visit the Rare Hare website Yabby Lake
This charming cellar door is the perfect place to spend the afternoon sampling a host of award-winning single vineyard Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Enjoy stunning views over the vineyard and a light lunch on the verandah, or perch yourself at the slick tasting bar and be guided by the always friendly cellar door staff through offerings from their Yabby Lake and Red Claw labels. 86-112 Tuerong Rd, Tuerong, VIC -  View on our Mornington map Open Daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Yabby Lake website Mornington Peninsular Cellar Door Map Planning a trip to Mornington Peninsula? Download our interactive Mornington Peninsula winery map. To save on your browser or device,  click here For more information on visiting the Mornington Peninsula, be sure to visit the official  Mornington Peninsula Website  or stop by the visitor information centre in Dromana. If you'd like to sample some of the wineries listed in this guide before you visit, explore our selection of  Mornington Wines   and find out more about the wineries listed here in our  Meet the Makers section  . And, with the  Wine Selectors Regional Release program  me, you'll experience a different wine region each Release with all wines expertly selected by our Tasting Panel, plus you'll receive comprehensive tasting notes and fascinating insights into each region. Visit our  Regular Deliveries   page to find out more!
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Wine Traveler Riverland
Words by Dave Brookes on 28 Dec 2017
While South Australia’s riverland region has always been famous for bulk wine production, innovative local winemakers are changing the landscape by planting a range of grape varieties perfectly suited to the hot, dry climate. As I sit down to pen this brief piece on the Riverland , I’m reminded of the words of that great American philosopher LL Cool J who rhymed, “don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years; I’m rockin my peers; Puttin’ suckers in fear”. Mic drop from Queens. Perhaps I’m getting carried away. I’ve always been told I have a fertile imagination, but who would have thought a decade ago that boutique winemakers from Margaret River to Coonawarra would be sourcing fruit from the Riverland and proudly displaying that fact on their wine labels? The Riverland has always been, along with several other regions that lie along the life-giving artery of the Murray, the engine-room of the Australian wine industry. The Riverland accounts for over 50% of South Australia’s wine crush and around 30% of the national total, some 470,123 tonnes in 2017. It is a very important region for Australian wine. One winery alone, Berri Estates, is the largest grape processor in the southern hemisphere, crushing some 220,000 tonnes of grapes annually or around one-third of the total grape crush of South Australia. Several years ago, I recall driving with the Berri Estates winemaker to the crushers; a journey through a huge truck marshalling area complete with traffic wardens. He turned to me and said, “Can you feel the romance?” Funny, but the sheer scale of the operation was astounding. The Riverland is also a region well aware of the hardships of farming; of extended droughts and the plunging grape prices of boom & bust cycles. But the droughts, while devastating for growers already struggling with low grape prices, have forced some changes for the better. Included among them are sustainable irrigation, drought hardy rootstock and clonal research, and the planting of alternative varieties, or, as one local winemaker described them, “appropriate varieties.” King of grapes
One of the larger producers is Kingston Estate, established by Greek immigrants, Nina & Steve Moularadellis in the mid-1980s after they met picking grapes in the early 1960s. Today, you can still find them in the winery most days, but it is son Bill who steers the ship. Kingston Estate produce a range of wines that offer great value for money and drinking pleasure. Their portfolio centres around the European classic varieties, but for me, when I think of the estate, it is their Petit Verdot that springs to mind and it is certainly a variety they have hung their hat on. Deeply coloured and laden with rich fruit and spice, it possesses an ample structure with plenty of ripe tannin and is a variety that seems to thrive in the warmer climes of the Riverland. Salena Estate, another of the larger operators, has around 520 acres under vine, roughly half of which is certified organic. Their range includes classic varieties, across different price points that provide great drinking, and their ‘Ink’ series concentrates on the ‘appropriate’ varieties with some great examples including Montepulciano , Graciano, Bianco d’Alessano and Vermentino . The Banrock Station cellar door is top-notch with the complete range of wines available for tasting, a great little restaurant if you are feeling peckish and the amazing wetlands ecosystem with walking trails if you need to stretch your legs. The Angove cellar door in Renmark is another must visit for the quality and diversity of their range of wines with fruit sourced from the Riverland and further afield across South Australia. In recent times, the interest in sourcing fruit from the Riverland by winemakers based outside the region has been pleasing to see. There are several factors at play here. Better farming practices and increased interest in some of the varieties that end in ‘O’ that seem well suited to the region are certainly in the mix. Another is the tireless efforts, boundless energy and great farming nous of Ashley Ratcliff of Ricca Terra Farms, who has done much to raise the profile of the Riverland as a source of well-farmed, alternative varieties. Part of this nous was knowing when to take a risk on doing something new. As he explains, “During the boom times in the Riverland, grape prices were up and getting people to change their practices was hard. Why would you decrease your yields and plant new varieties? When things turned, however, others panicked, but we were brave; buying up vineyards and planting alternative varieties that now fetch sustainable prices.” Ashley’s Ricca Terra Farms is just outside Bamera and is planted with many of the varieties that are now sought after in the region – Nero d’Avola , Fiano , Vermentino , Montepulciano , Zibbibo, Muscato Giallo and the curiously named, Slankamenca Bela. As well as supplying grapes for other winemakers, Ashley has his own ‘Ricca Terra’ label featuring inventive blends of these varieties. Another producer riding the wave of the alternative varieties that are well-suited to the Riverland is Alex Russell Wines. Viticulturist and winemaker Alex Russell crafts a range of delicious wines from Montepulciano, Vermentino, and Lagrein to Nero d’Avola, Saperavi and Graciano. Alex’s range of wines hold true to the tenet that a wines ‘raison d’etre’ is to be above all else, delicious to drink and they have picked up a swathe of awards at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in Mildura . small names, big impression
Other small local producers who farm in a thoughtful, sustainable fashion to seek out include Whistling Kite, whose biodynamically farmed range includes a fantastic Petit Manseng and a Montepulciano that is a benchmark for the region. The organically farmed Bassham Wines is another, with delicious, racy whites including Vermentino and Fiano, along with lovely examples of Lagrein, Nero d’Avola and Graciano. Also check out 919 Wines, whose range of table wines provides beautiful drinking across both the classic and alternative varieties, including a killer Pale Dry Apera style. And last but not least, the Delinquent Wine Co has a fantastic range of funkily packaged wines for “drinkin, not thinkin”, featuring new wave varieties, including the very drinkable Bianco d’Alessano Pet Nat Sparkling. Of the producers from further afield who proudly source fruit from the Riverland, the list is growing. Sue Bell from Bellwether Wines in Coonawarra produces a fantastic, award-winning Nero d’Avola Rosé and crisp, textural Bianco d’Alessano; Margaret River based winemaker Brad Wehr of Amato Vino produces a dangerously drinkable Riverland range including a wonderful Slankamenca Bela. In the Adelaide Hills, Unico Zela features amazing Fiano, Nero d’Avola and an enchanting skin-contact white blend. And from McLaren Vale, ex-NYC sommelier Brad Hickey of Brash Higgins Wines crafts a heady, textural Zibbibo using grapes from Ricca Terra Farms vineyard. a bright future
Riverland is on the up and up and if you haven’t sampled its wines, now is the time. Perhaps its reputation has been unfairly tarnished as a source of lower-end, bulk wine offerings, but today the wines have never been better and there is an undercurrent of innovation, sustainable viticulture and experimentation that bodes very well for its future.
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Margaret River’s 50th
Words by Danielle Costley on 12 Nov 2017
As WA’s Margaret River wine region celebrates its 50th anniversary, we celebrate the pioneers who brought it all to fruition. A hundred years ago, a couple of Italian immigrants arrived in the south west corner of Western Australia with some cuttings of a little-known grape variety called Fragola. These vines produced the first wines to be sold in Margaret River for the hefty price tag of two shillings a flagon. Fondly dubbed ‘red dynamite’ by the enthusiastic community, this wine was in high demand at the local dance halls where it was sold from the back of a truck. And it was said to pack quite a punch. Times have certainly changed since then and while other growers produced small batches of wines in the ensuing years, it wasn’t until the mid 1960s when agronomist Dr John Gladstones published a report identifying Margaret River’s vast potential for viticulture, that the region, as we know it today, was born.
The Gladstones report attracted the attention of budding vignerons and medical practitioners, Thomas Cullity and Kevin and Diana Cullen. In mid 1966, the Cullens organised a meeting in the Margaret River township of Busselton inviting Dr Gladstones to speak. It was the final push those attending needed. Soon after, the Cullens, in partnership with Tom Cullity, and Geoff and Sue Juniper, planted vines in Wilyabrup, which unfortunately didn’t survive. It was left to Cullity, who in 1967 purchased a mere eight acres of land, to plant Margaret River’s first commercial vines – Cabernet Sauvignon , Shiraz , Malbec and Riesling . He named his venture after French sailor, Thomas Vasse, who had drowned in Geographe Bay. Hoping for better fortunes than the Frenchman, he added the Latin word for happiness – Felix. His first crop, too, was all but a disaster, decimated by birds and succumbing to bunch rot. Undeterred, but determined, Cullity persevered. In 1972, Vasse Felix won a gold medal at the Perth Show for its Riesling. The following year, gold for its Cabernet. Happy days, indeed. The Cullens also persevered. In 1971 they planted vines on their own land where their current vineyard still thrives. At this stage, Moss Wood had been established for two years and within another two years, Cape Mentelle, Leeuwin Estate, and Woodlands had also been established. In what was a fledgling industry at the time, these founding wineries worked tirelessly to forge the region’s reputation as a premium wine producer. “I pay tribute to the winemakers and grape growers of Margaret River,” says Dr Gladstones, who is still a proud member of the Margaret River community today. “It’s one thing to have an idea and put it forward, it’s another this to be brought to fruition. The work and financial commitment that had to go into it has been a big factor in bringing Margaret River to its present world-class status.”
Left: Bob Hullock. Right: Cullen Wines co-founder Diana Cullen  An American influence While the pioneering wineries may have simply dreamed of making good wine, there was a certain Californian who knew of Margaret River’s enormous potential – Napa Valley wine baron, Robert Mondavi. As the story goes, Mondavi was searching the globe for the next great wine region. His search took him to Margaret River and a patch of land owned by Denis Horgan, a chartered accountant, and his wife Tricia. Today, it is Leeuwin Estate. “Mondavi arrived on our doorstep wanting to buy the place,’ says Denis. “We weren’t the selling type, so he became our mentor in setting up a winery. He and his son and winemaker, Tim, came out on numerous occasions to advise on what varieties we should plant, where to plant them, about oak treatment and so on.” Mondavi’s advice was also greatly accepted by Cullity and Kevin Cullen, who Denis befriended and met up with regularly to discuss all things wine. “You would have sworn you were in a dog fight,” Denis says of the trio’s rendezvous. “They used to swear and curse and talk about one another’s wines, and then we’d all sit down and have lunch like we were the greatest of friends.  “They were fabulous guys. It was the best education I could have had because they didn’t pull any punches. They set out to make wines that ranked with the best in the world, and they damn well did it.” A region evolved
Three generations of Credaros in their Woolston vineyard Fifty years on, Margaret River is indeed a world class wine region. While it only produces three percent of Australia’s wine, it contributes 20 per cent of our premium wine production. It is recognised internationally for exceptional Cabernets and Chardonnays, and also produces a stylish signature blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The handful of wineries have now boomed to over 200 with most of them producing the flagships, while also experimenting with other varietals and blends that suit the Mediterranean climate, cooling sea breezes and rich gravelly soils. In the northern districts lies the family-owned Credaro Wines, where some of the region’s first vines were planted by the pioneering Meleri and Credaro families to produce the ‘red dynamite’. These days, they have over 140 hectares of vines spread across five vineyards and alongside the legendary Fragola, and Chardonnay, Cabernet and SBS, they are doing well with Pinot Grigio, Shiraz and Merlot. Thompson Estate is renowned for its Chardonnays and Cabernets, but is also finding favour with its Cabernet Merlot, Malbec and famed Four Chambers Shiraz. The 20-year-old vines are organically grown and produce impressive wines under the watchful eye of Bob Cartwright of Leeuwin Estate acclaim.
Hay Shed Hill, Margaret River At Hay Shed Hill, whose vineyards were first planted in the 1970s, the Block 6 Chardonnay is the star. Dry grown and located on a steep south facing slope, it is lean, light and fresh, but also has “flavour, aroma, body and textural interest,” says winemaker and owner, Michael Kerrigan. In concert with the Block 6, he is also giving plenty of attention to a stunning Cabernet Franc, as well as an intoxicating Shiraz Tempranillo blend. In the cooler, southern parts of the Margaret River, Sauvignon Blanc really finds voice as a single varietal. In close proximity to the Indian Ocean, you will find Redgate Wines, a winery that takes its name from a nearby property that once had a prominent red gate and was known for the production of a rather powerful moonshine. This estate, established by the Ullinger family in 1977, produces a sublime Sauvignon Blanc that is layered with gooseberry and lime. Their Cabernet blends are also beguiling, and they have a Chenin Blanc that is also turning heads. Even further south lies Hamelin Bay Wines, a quaint winery with a simply breathtaking outlook. It produces one of the region’s finest Sauvignon Blancs – fresh, vibrant and tropical, while their Rampant Red, a blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet, is winning fans. Something Totally New When Moss Wood winery was sub-divided in 1982, architect Bruce Tomlinson purchased the land and established Lenton Brae winery. Putting his talents to use, he built a striking rammed earth winery and cellar door with two towers that are home to quintet bells from Westminster and chime on the quarter-hour. A few years ago, the Tomlinsons introduced a new varietal to the region, Pinot Blanc. This unassuming grape is a mutation of Pinot Noir, yet genetically similar to Chardonnay. Winemaker, Edward Tomlinson, says he was drawn to the subtle charm of this early ripening variety. “Essentially, it is a Sauvignon Blanc for grown-ups,’ he says. “The decision to plant Pinot Blanc was a big call. Having seen my father wrestle with the implications of uprooting two hectares of Pinot Noir in the early days, I was amazed at how supportive he was for me to take a punt on Pinot Blanc.” And these are not the only newcomers to the region. There’s been an influx of plantings of Mediterranean varietals in recent years, with Fiano, Vermentino, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese finding favour amongst the growing band of winemakers. A Fitting Half Century
As the 50th celebrations kick off in earnest, it is heartwarming to see much love given to the traditions of the pioneers. Vasse Felix’ s ‘tractor bucket’ party recreated the spirit of founding producers who celebrated each of those crucial early vintages in style with tractor buckets turned into eskys, filled with ice and wine and enjoyed out amongst the vines, even serving as a bed on some occasions. “Anniversaries such as this are an opportunity to share with the world just how special Margaret River is. It is a wine paradise,” says current Vasse Felix owner, Paul Holmes a Court. The single remaining bottle of the 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec is on display in the Vasse Felix vault and to celebrate the winery’s 50th anniversary, they have released a Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec made from those original vines. I am sure the good doctor would approve. And while he would be astounded to see how big the region has grown, he always knew how good the wines were going to be. “I knew because Mondavi told me so,” says Denis Horgan. “He always said that Margaret River was going to make wines that ranked with the best in the world. It was his catch cry.” The best is still yet to come says Dr Gladstones, who fittingly gets to have the last word. “I strongly believe that we’ve only seen the beginning,” he says. “This region has tremendous natural advantages for grape growing to produce top quality wines. “With its environments, experience and now increasing vine age, Margaret River is undoubtedly ripe to walk with the greatest.”
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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