(2018) Margaret River is a small, high-quality appellation in Western Australia. Its ocean-influenced climate is one secret to its renowned Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which often makes a nod towards a European style. Howard Park's 2012 from the Leston single vineyard is a beauty. Eighteen months in French oak has given a polished sheen to the deep pool of glossy blackcurrant fruit, with a hint of mint and cocoa, but also a little dusty briar and olive so typical of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the mouth that really lovely combination of the supple, plush black fruit with creaminess of oak, but firm tannin and the whole picture tensioned by keen acidity to give structure and extra length. Finishing on fruit, spice and fine-grained tannins, a really terrific Cabernet. Watch the video for more information, and note that by the case the price falls to around £20 per bottle.
(2018) When David Hohnen contacted me to say this wine he'd made had just gone into Aldi stores at £5.99 I just had to try a bottle. David's track record is formidable: the first winemaker for Cloudy Bay, on to Cape Mentelle, and now producing some fabulous wines under his own McHenry Hohnen label. To put a wine from premium Western Australia on the shelves for £5.99 is a coup, David explaining that the "South West Australia" designation allowed him to source fruit from an expansive area encompassing Margarent River, Mount Barker, Frankland River and many other appellations. It's a beautifully pitched wine, with a touch of pea-pod and nettle characater, but much more focused on the pure lime and luscious nectarine fruitiness, exotic touches of mango and lychee too, but the creamy-textured palate finishes on whistle-clean acidity. A terrific bargain really. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) From an estate-grown single vineyard, and predominantly from the Gin Gin clone. The wine was barrel fermented and aged in a mix of new and used French oak. Very discreet, just gentle spearmint and toast but the fruit fresh and pristine. Juicy and firm on the palate, the acid is the spine of this, apple and taut and fresh salt and mineral flavours persisting into a balanced finish.
(2018) Made from the Gin Gin clone, this spend 10 months in new and older French oak, both barriques and larger puncheons. Mealy and almondy, a touch of roasted orange, lovely nuttiness and a touch buttery. Ripe and full, on the palate - much more so than the Lenton Brae - verging on the tropical, but still with gorgeous acids. Stockist and price quoted at time of review is single bottle equivalent, but available only by the case.
(2018) A higher proportion of fruit from the south of the region than the first two wines. This was whole-bunch pressed to extract only free-run juice, fermented and aged 11 months in new and older barrels, with regular lees stirring. It's the first wine to exhibit the complex sulphide character, a touch of flint and roasted quality, but again very clean. Fine, balanced, quite fat lemon rind character, delicious balance again, the mint and vanilla just filling in against that salty background. Only 12.5% alcohol here, perhaps a combination of the cooler southerly vineyards and earlier picking
(2018) Another wine that is 100% Gin Gin clone, whole-bunch pressed into French oak (25% new) with spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts. No malolactic. Very subdued, a touch of saltiness but very subtle - too subtle? The palate has plenty of lemony fruit, good drive from the acidity, just a touch of nuttiness filling in
(2018) From a single block of old Gin Gin clone Chardonnay on clay/loam soils that retain moisture and need little irrigation. Again this was whole-bunch pressed into larger French oak barrels and fermented with wild yeast. It spent 10 months ageing in barrel (40% new). Much more obvious Brazil nut oak, but also a little bit of flinty reductive character. Lovely palate, the acid powerful and intense, but a hugely decisive wine without losing fruit or charm. Lovely wine from a winery that does not own vineyards, but sources this fruit from the cooler South of the region. Note stockist and price quoted is for 2015 vintage.
(2018) Heytesbury is a selection of the best vineyards and fruit. 100% Gin Gin, the recipe again was for pressing straight to barrel and fermentation with wild yeast. Lees were stirred regularly during nine months ageing in 57% new French oak. Subtle wild ferment earthiness and nuttiness, a juicy directness, firm and acidic, it stays quite grippy and intense, but very good fruit. This has length and a good balance and certainly the fruit and infill of creamy oak to give lovely balance.
(2018) Though pressed straight to French oak barriques (50% new), this was inoculated with selected yeasts and did go through malolactic fermentation during its 18 months in barrel. It still has nice earthiness and a nicely 'dirty' component, a suggestion of real savouriness to come and something of an orange fruit character. The palate has plenty of that meaty umami character, there's juiciness and a touch of toast, but a long, dry and savoury wine.
(2018) This is the only wine that see 100% new oak, all French and all small barrels. 100% Gin Gin fruit is given some skin contact, with some barrels fermented with wild yeasts, others inoculated, spending a further 11 months in barrel, Lovely delicate perfume here, gentle creamy and almond oak influence, a touch of mint. The palate has ripe fruit in a nice mid point between sparky, juicy, tingling acid and a hint of the tropical as the fruit tightens up to mint and lime leafy juiciness.