Written by Ken Gargett
Fifty years ago, Margaret River was little more than a sleepy farming community, popular with surfers, in the far south-west of Western Australia. Its extraordinary rise to international prominence in the world of wine has recently been documented in a new book, which thoroughly covers the history and personalities involved with this newfound stardom. The Way It Was by Peter Forrestal and Ray Jordan (AU$39) is definitely worth a spot on every serious wine lover’s shelf.
An argument can be made that no other wine region in the world has achieved so much, so quickly. And no other wine region can produce both such high-quality cabernet and chardonnay, the arguable exception being the Napa Valley.
Wineries like Cullen’s, Moss Wood, Vasse Felix, Leeuwin Estate, Devil’s Lair, Howard Park, Pierro, Voyager Estate, Xanadu and many more have just added to the lustre. Indeed, any selection of Margaret River wines could easily be replaced by an equally thrilling set. And then they themselves replaced.
Moss Wood Chardonnay 2016 (AU$65)
A big, full, ripe, unrestricted style of chardy. Not overly sophisticated but a wine that delivers flavour in spades. Nutmeg, rockmelon, pawpaw and plenty of grapefruit coming through towards the finish. Well integrated with a pleasing texture. Best to revisit this in two to three years. Is it as good as the 2015? Not yet but give it time.
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (AU$98)
This is always good but I am not sure I have seen a better young Mentelle cab (it could be a fun argument, at least). Dense and dark, there are notes of cloves and olive tapenade; black cherries and leather. Mouth-coating yet near-gossamer tannins. This is such an impressive wine and one with amazing length. It will sail through a couple of decades and could well become a legendary Margaret River cab in the years ahead. Good luck finding a Bordeaux anywhere near this quality for this price.
Cullen’s Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (AU$130)
From the Cullen biodynamic vineyards, it is 93 percent cabernet, five percent merlot and the rest split between malbec and petit verdot; it spends 14 months in barriques, two-thirds of the them new. Flavours of mulberries, cassis and black fruits abound. Seamless, with intensity maintained for a considerable length. Silk tannins. Nicely balanced. It is all terrific stuff but it really needs time in the cellar. At which time, the score will soar.