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Grape search pays dividends for Lamonts

IF you haven’t been to Lamont Winery for a while, then it is time for a leisurely drive to the tranquility of the Swan Valley. Winemaker Mark Warren and his team at Lamonts are producing wines that will compel you to make regular visits once you have tasted them.

Mark’s winemaking skills have launched Lamonts into a new era. He has introduced a number of modern techniques into the winery and the wines being produced are certainly reaping the rewards. A number of Lamonts’ wines have won medals and trophies during the past few years and, having looked at a number of wines from the 2001 vintage, there is the ammunition for more of the same.

In a move to further improve the quality of their wine, Mark began looking outside the traditional fruit sources within the Swan Valley a number of years ago, instead sourcing fruit from areas such as Frankland, Margaret River and Donnybrook. He then began introducing their regional characters into the range of wine produced at Lamonts.

Mark says that, although he is committed to the Swan Valley and the styles of wine that are synonymous with the region, he also realises that grapes from other regions have different characters, which help develop some of the complexity of Lamonts’ range of wines.

Like many other wineries, Lamonts is aiming for regional flagship wines. The Lamonts Riesling, which is made from Frankland grapes, and the Lamonts Verdelho, made from Swan Valley grapes, are example of the flagship styles Mark is looking to produce. Both have been award-winning wines in past vintages.

The Lamont Restaurant also has enjoyed a very good reputation for many years, providing Kate Lamont with a sound background for the development of other ventures over the years. Back in 1989, sisters Kate and Fiona Lamont established what was then the first restaurant attached to a winery in the Swan Valley.

While the restaurant gets ready for its first major makeover since those early days, the reputation of the Lamont family, and Kate in particular, continues to forge ahead. A new addition to the Lamont empire a year or so ago was Lamont’s Restaurant in East Perth, and there are plans afoot for a move into the Margaret River area in the near future.

Lamonts Riesling 2000, rrp $18.00, 16.75/20 points.

Have I told you before how much I like riesling? This is more reason to support my addiction. There is a slight development showing in the aroma, supported with touches of lanolin, lime citrus and (perfumed) bath salts. The palate supports limey citrus flavours with integrated acidity and leaves a long finish.

I also was lucky enough to taste the award-winning 1997 Riesling, 19/20 points, which is still as fresh as a daisy. It showed a slight development with honeyed lanolin characters, the palate displayed some still tight limey acidity with a touch of honey, and it had fantastic mouth-feel. As for the length of the finish, well, I can still taste it.

Lamonts Semillon 2000, rrp $19.00, 17.50/20 points.

For those who have a hard time coming to grips with semillon, this could be the baby to help you get over the hump. It has pungent, grassy, herbaceous aromas with a little tickle of oak. Sliding into the wine you are confronted with a creamy mouth-feel with lime and lemon rind flavours and a lees feel. There is plenty of complexity, structure and acidity that should see this wine still drinking very well in another five or so years.

Lamonts Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, rrp $15.00, 16.75/20 points.

While this is not a wine of enormous complexity, it does have an enormous amount of really approachable fruit that screams “don’t play around with me, just drink me”. It has sweet berry fruits, blackcurrant and brambles with rounded tannins and acidity. This is fantastic value for money and ready to drink.

Lamont’s Merlot 1999, rrp $21.00, 17/20 points.

You will have to be very quick if you want any of this crackerjack merlot. Only a tiny amount has been made and, once a few people have tasted the wine, it won’t hang around very long. Mark gives this wine the full treatment, including using cooled fruit, whole-bunch pressing and cold soaking the fruit. Mark also uses a technique of pumping air through the wine, which adds to the complexity and development.

Wild strawberries and plummy aromas lead you to a palate that is dominated by sweet ripe fruit, with dusty tannins and well placed acidity. The finish is moorish.

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