Tasting Notes - some hot wines from the Margaret River

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Choose the right wine every time - Taste Food and Wine 2008 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Choose the right wine every time - Taste Food and Wine 2008 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Indulge in some of the most delicious drops from the Margaret River region with the top picks from Taste Food and Wine 2008.

Catching Thieves Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $16
With a kooky label and a cracking flavour, this wine is a classic Margaret River blend with a welcome sense of humour. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but offers really good mid-week drinking or party pouring. The lemon and lime flavours are proven crowd-pleasers. Congrats, McWilliams – with the greatest respect, old dogs clearly can come up with new tricks.

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2007 $25
For a youthful SBS, this is an extremely polished work of art. One would normally expect rasping acidity and overly crunchy fruit flavours, but Rob Mann has shined and buffed this wine so much that the slipperiness and texture are every bit as exciting as the flavours themselves. As you sniff and sip this wine, you are drawn into it, wanting repeat performances of this mesmeric experience. Yes, it has the lime leaf, lemon balm and asparagus notes you’d expect, but there is high-tensile acidity balanced beautifully with a high-gloss finish.

Howard Park Western Australia Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $26
Easier to track down than some of the more boutiquey wines in this section, HP is living proof that fine SB can be made in reasonable quantities. This fact makes this wine a real treat for those of you who don’t have some of our higher quality merchants within arms reach of your dining room table. This is a clean, fresh, floral style of Sauv with great length and mineral-imbued acidity.

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2006 $40
Rob Mann can do no wrong, and his latest Chardonnay is further proof of his burgeoning genius. It’s upright, tall, intellectual and handsome – much like the wine critics that are reviewing it. There’s not an ounce of flesh that isn’t necessary on its defined chassis (like one of the critics, anyway). We suggest that you cook something decent and then take a moment’s silence to absorb this wine in its unadulterated glory.

Howard Park Great Southern Chardonnay 2006 $42
2006 will be remembered as the last HP Chardonnay made by “Kegs” (Mike Kerrigan – no relation to Darryl, we’re assured). The fruit comes from the little town of Denmark, which is about as close to the South Pole as vines can get in Western Australia. Biting cold winds careen off the Southern Ocean and produce very fit grapes with hints of fresh mint tips and pine needles. Kegs has cracked the recipe for Denmark Chardonnay like no one else, and the result is a delicious and eminently age-worthy prize. We know, because we’ve been avid followers of the wine and the man for years. This is far from the last you’ll hear from Kegs. Stay tuned.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Margaret River Chardonnay 2006 $31
You might be forgiven for thinking of Prelude as a “poor-man’s Art Series” (read on) but in fact it’s a good deal more than half the wine for a third of the price. Save the big boy for the next time you’re entertaining royalty (or tricky in-laws), or finish the bottle in the kitchen before your guests arrive (hee hee) and then serve Prelude when they rock up. Either way, bathe yourself in this stunning wine’s grapefruit blossom, fresh lemons and mellifluous texture.

Cullen Margaret River Chardonnay 2005 $62
Vanya is perfectly in tune with her vineyards and her wines and this Chardonnay shows this rare and superb partnership in all its glory. Chardonnay is so easy to make well, but incredibly difficult to make brilliantly. Cullen improves and augments its holistic recipe every year and the results are amazing. The taut minerality underpinning the 2005 is nothing short of breathtaking. This new era in Aussie Chardy is gripping viewing.

Pierro Chardonnay 2005 $65
This wine is on a mission. It is a Chardonnay vector – its magnitude of flavour and unwavering, direct assault on your palate are almost shocking. Zesty grapefruit, mandarin skin and spice are laced together with a silk thread of acidity. It parades its region on its sleeve. Pierro Chard is a wine for true fans of the variety, the region and roast chicken. It’s inclusion in our list again this year is dedicated to my (Tyson’s) brother-in-law, Craig, whose Chardonnay epiphany began when he discovered Pierro in our book last year. He is still in remission.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2005 $94
Is this the best Chardonnay in Australia? Too right it is. Brilliantly complex, unreser-vedly restrained and yet a full-on clog dancer from its very first moment on your palate. The trajectory of this wine is astronomical. You’ll still be tasting it tomorrow. Did we say this is the best Chard in Aus? Long live the Queen.

Deepwoods Estate Harmony Rosé 2007 $14
Everybody needs a cheapie rosé in the fridge, ready to spring into action as a multitalented partner to whatever happens to land on the table. The pure berry, fresh cherry and spice flavours of this clever Shiraz Cabernet blend make it the perfect Harmony with virtually anything (and anyone) that drops in unannounced.

Stella Bella Skuttlebutt Shiraz Cabernet Merlot Tempranillo Sangiovese 2006 $16.50
Check out just how complicated this little inexpensive wine is? As well as being great value for money, Skuttlebutt also won a Silver medal in The Great Australian Red. The fresh pepper and blackberry Shiraz augments leafy Cabernet and raucously spicy Tempranillo and Sangiovese. In the old word this would be a claret, Rioja, Chianti blend – mad, but good!

Zinful Margaret River Zinfandel 2005 $28
Mess (Mark Messenger) is carving out quite a name for himself in the ever-upward spiral of his wines under the Juniper Estate label. Zinful is what he gets up to in his spare time. He makes bugger-all of it and, in his words, “it’s just a bit of fun.” We can’t disagree with that, and you won’t, either, when you sink your teeth into its purple stewed plum and spicy Christmas pudding flavours. Zinful indeed. 

Moss Wood Amy’s Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $31
Welcome back, Amy. You have been a favourite of late, with your sensitive, perfumed fruit, your mishmash of red and black berries and your superfine Cabernet tannins – we love you! The true value for money here is unmistakable. You can drink this wine now if you wish, but that would be a year too early.

Moss Wood Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $94
With considerable weight and yet piercing clarity of message, this wine brings your taste buds to attention and then marshals its dark berry and chocolate flavours around with balletic precision. Its ethereal Latour-shaped bouquet and impeccably concentrated palate ride a backbone of tannins that effuse out of its core in every direction. With a decade ahead of it, the best young MW Cabernet in years is in no hurry to show its full hand – but you can see it’s a winning one from the other side of the country. 

Stella Bella Margaret River Pink Muscat NV $17
This bubbly pink sweetie is for those of you called Daniel on weekdays and Danielle on weekends. We have found your wine! Not only is it the right size to fit into your baguette bag, this is one that will impress your friends with its length… on the palate. It’s a cheeky blend of grapes and pink panties that is guaranteed to knock your socks and whatever else you like off! 


Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2008

VisitVineyards.com Members can purchase Taste Food and Wine 2009 from our online partner Seekbooks at a 12.5% discount, postage and handling extra.




  • Margaret River (WA)

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April 15th, 2009
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