25/03/2010 - 00:00

Another top year from the South West

25/03/2010 - 00:00

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THE 2010 vintage is well and truly under way and it looks like we’re in for another stellar year, meaning this will be the fourth successive year the South West has produced a stunning crop of exciting wines.

Another top year from the South West

THE 2010 vintage is well and truly under way and it looks like we’re in for another stellar year, meaning this will be the fourth successive year the South West has produced a stunning crop of exciting wines.

As we are all uncomfortably aware, there were persistently high temperatures through February and into March. This heat further ripens the fruit on the vine so we can expect higher baume (sugar levels) and therefore slightly higher alcohols than the relatively cool 2009 vintage.

Sandalford’s Paul Boulden is very excited about the vintage, expecting star bright, snap-clean whites, with the reds being more robust and generous than previous vintages.

Western Australia must surely be the envy of the rest of the country’s wine producers who have suffered through drought, floods, storms, fire and record-breaking heat waves in recent years.

Consumers can expect consistency and reliability from the WA wines on the market but this doesn’t mean that wines from further east are sub-standard. However, it does make me feel more comfortable when trying something new from WA, knowing that the growing conditions from 2007 onwards were ideal.

And I’m not the only one loving the consistency of WA. Unsurprisingly the producers themselves are shouting it from the rooftops as well.

A group of 19 pre-eminent WA wine producers has collectively created the ‘Summer with the Locals’ campaign to put WA wine at the forefront of people’s minds and fight the wave of generic New Zealand sauvignon blanc that is swamping the local market. Check out www.enjoywawine.com.au.

Those of you who are regular readers of this column know I’m a big fan of WA’s 2007 vintage, especially the Margaret River and Great Southern reds, which are available and ready for drinking right now.

The standouts are cabernet and shiraz from low-cropping vineyards, producing wines of alluring intensity and fruit weight, balanced with tightly structured tannin and acid profiles.

Among those to look for is the 2007 Fraser Gallop Cabernet Sauvignon; a really exciting medium bodied wine, finely crafted and destined for a long life in the cellar. It’s almost all sold out so keep an eye out for the cabernet merlot from the same vintage and producer – richer, softer, more generous and, despite lacking the same pedigree, it’s more lip-smackingly enjoyable now.

Also, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Forest Hill in Denmark is an absolute ripper. You can find it around the traps hovering just above the $20 mark. James Halliday rated this wine higher than its big brother the “block 5”, which retails at more than twice the price.

The 2007 Cape Mentelle Shiraz and the 2007 Sandalford Margaret River Shiraz are both worth a look. I have never really been excited by shiraz from Margaret River as I’ve always felt they lacked the style of Great Southern shiraz but the 2007s look really exciting – grainy tannins, cool and minty to start then warming and plush. They remind me of Elizabethan corsets – tight and restrained yet fleshy and voluptuous.

So whether it’s a great red from 2007-08, a white from 2009 or maybe you’re waiting for the first drop of crisp 2010s, it’s hard to go past WA.

 

 

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