Dive into Fonty’s Pool to make a big splash

YOU have got to love these quirky stories about how places were named and their associated history. Fonty’s Pool was established in tall timber country down in Manjimup and like most vineyard sites started off life as a farm. This patch of ideal dirt was originally a huge vegetable farm, not producing huge vegetables, there was just a lot of them. To irrigate, given the size of the farm, a whopping great big dam was created. You know where this is heading but stay with me. The dam developed into a social scene among the locals as a popular swimming hole and is still, if you are heading down that way, a famous landmark in the region. Take a wild guess as to what the giant swimming pool became know as; yep Fonty’s Pool. It was named after the pool’s owner, Archie Fontanini, who originally owned the farm granted to him from the Government way back in 1907 and developed it in part as a vegetable farm.

The first vines were planted around 1989, which in the early days of the vineyard’s life were sold off to others. When the opportunity arose to become involved at Fonty’s Pool, Cape Mentelle winemaker David Hohnen didn’t hesitate. Approached by the owners of the legendary Manjimup watering hole in 1997, David leapt at the chance to form a joint venture and play a part in developing the styles offered by this region.

It is hard to douse a fire in his belly once the fire is lit, and David Hohnen suggests that it is imperative that Manjiump and Pemberton work together to improve and ultimately establish the “region” as a brand mark. It will not happen over night but the class of producers in the area and their willingness to produce quality will lead to a unified assault on brand recognition of the region.

More vines are being planted at Fonty’s Pool to provide the future fruit for the Fonty’s Pool range, from which the following were presented by David last week.

Fonty’s Pool Chardonnay 1999 (rrp $20.99 16.5/20 points)

Don’t even think about saying “not another Chardonnay”, understanding that we make bloody good Chardonnay is something that David Hohnen admires. Within the stable he overlooks are the renowned Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay Chardonnays which he admits stand up tall amongst the poppies. So why get involved in another Chardonnay? “Regionality plays an important part,” David says. “The chance to make a Chardonnay from the Fonty’s Pool site enabled the team to produce yet another style of Chardonnay. “The Fonty’s Chardonnay is heading towards the Chablis style, a fresher leaner style. “We are a little way from achieving this goal but the results are looking very sound”

The current 1999 release has plenty of spunk and refinement which can only lead toward an enhancement of the style over the coming years. Perfumed nose with hints of pear drops, peaches and citrus aromas. The palate shows a slight flintyness with citrus and grape fruit flavours, with an undertone of stone-fruits and honey blossom. The wine finishes with a long and zesty message, “watch me Iam only warming up”. Drink this wine now or put a few away for a season or two.

Fonty’s Pool Pinot Noir 1999 (rrp $24.99 16.75)

Art! No I am not getting all warm and fuzzy with you, and about to launch into some philosophical debate about Pinot Noir. I just think that Pinot Noir is art! Everyone can make it but some winemakers seem to get the picture in better perspective and more recognisable than others.

David Hohnen explained that the window of n From page 25

opportunity to impress consumers with Pinot Noir was very narrow, and winemakers should be looking to invite “Joe Public” to look at the regional characters displayed in this somewhat misunderstood variety. Improved knowledge of this variety within regions will help over the next few years to take the “droopy” image away from what can be a fantastic style of wine.

Wafts of raspberries and black cherries with a touch of savoury cedary oak. The palate is refined with dusty tannins, almost sweet cherry fruits that are integrated with acidity and oak treatment. It is not a cherry ripe bursting with flavor, however it has plenty of lingering subtle flavours as you pull out the water colours and create.

Fonty’s Pool Shiraz 1999 (rrp $20.99 16/20 points)

John Gladstone, Western Australia’s father of viticulture, recorded in his report on the Manjimup and Pemberton region that Shiraz would best be suited in this area. So do you reckon Mr Hohnen planted Shiraz or discarded father John’s advice?

This is the first vintage of Shiraz from the Fonty’s Pool vineyard that was planted in 1996. David Hohnen suggests that Shiraz from around Australia has its own individuality, which is the way this wine seems headed. The 1999 Shiraz showed a degree of restraint, with delicate perfumed aromas of raspberries, spices and touch of savoury oak. The palate showed a freshness of fruit, plums and raspberries before settling with refined tannins and structured acidity. This is a treat now but watch out for future vintages of this wine.

Fonty’s Pool wines available through Red and White Distributors 9244 5188

Cape Mentelle

Picking up the prestigious Jimmy Watson award (awarded to the best year-old red in Australia) twice in as many years was an important step that enabled Cape Mentelle to gain valuable recognition and standing in not only WA but throughout Australia. It would be fair to say that Cape Mentelle has established itself as a producer of benchmark wines.

While it is Cabernet Sauvignon that has given the winery much success, they have also developed one of Australia’s best Semillon Sauvignon Blanc styles. For as long as I can remember, this style of wine has had its roots seemingly entrenched in Margaret River. There are many adaptations of this style in Margaret River, yet it is Cape Mentelle’s version that it is always amongst the best examples.

Recently David Hohnen and his team introduced Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Semillon called Wallcliff. I think it is a stunning example and you should do yourself a favour and seek out a bottle or two.

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Wallcliff Reserve 1999 (17.75/20 points rrp $32.80)

This is a sexy wine that is complex and elegant. It was harvested in great condition after a few jitters with cyclone weather. The fruit was fully ripe and ready to go. Heady aromas with apple blossom, ripe apples and an enticing vanillian oak. The palate shows layered complexity with lees and malolactic influences, there is a refinement of fruit that has plenty of zingy acidity yet displays a rounded texture through the wine. It has refinement and length of finish.

New vintages of Cape Mentelle will be released early April. I will keep you informed

This wine is available through West Coast Wines 9446 3565.

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