THE Houghton Wine Company property has a history right back to settlement days and has produced wine since then.The first crush of grapes produced around 25 gallons (112 litres) but these days Houghton will crush close to 9000 tonnes, with plans to crush more than 14,000 tonnes within a few years.A new purpose built winery completed at Nannup and used for the first time this vintage will help relieve some of the demands on the Swan Valley winery and significantly add to the amount of fruit Houghton will be able to crush in the coming years.Like most other wineries here in the West, wine-making teams have been working around the clock for the past two months or so.At Houghton, another two or three long weeks are ahead as the last parcels of fruit flow through the winery.The vintage period at Houghton would be one of the longest in WA as fruit comes from the entire length of the wine-growing regions of the State.Wine makers Larry Cherubino and Ross Pamment described the condition of the fruit that has come off the vines thus far as “very good”.Larry says that the fruit reds and whites come from, especially that of Frankland River region, has been full of flavour and is probably the best he has seen from those vineyards. Ross agreed, adding that the white vintage was shaping up as one of the best he has been involved with. With a record crush likely the 2001 vintage for the team at Houghton will be one to keep an eye on.Both Larry and Ross took a night off last week to entertain a group of trade members with a pre-release of a new, yet-to-be-named, or labeled, range of wines.The wines are based on single varieties using the best fruit available from regional and geographical vineyard sites that in the wine-maker’s opinion is producing fruit typical of the best that the particular location produces.It is an interesting project for Houghton to undertake, as it will provide consumers an insight into regional differences and the affects of geographical location on a grape variety .It could be an insight into the terrior and its effects within regions, it could lead to the beginning of mapping regional boundaries, or it could simply lead to a hangover as the wines in bottle at the moment are all very distinctive.The range at this stage includes Riesling and a Shiraz from the Frankland region and a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River region. As soon as the wines are packaged I will endeavor to get together with the wine-makers and put some time and effort into my homework and give you an in-depth report.We were able to taste some of the other new releases from Houghtons as we cruised the length of the Swan River and you could do worse than picking up any of these bottles on your weekly trip to your local liquor store.Crofters Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2000 rrp $18.99 17/20This is just about to hit the shelves of bottle shops across the state. This would rate as one of the better Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends out of WA.It has been given the full monty and the outcome is a seriously good drop of wine. Beware, this has moorish characters, intense passionfruit, citrus, gooseberry and guava like flavours, with a deft touch of French wood. The flavour seems to hang around long after the bottle is empty, so make sure you have one on standby. Do yourself a favour.Crofters Chardonnay 2000rrp $19.99 16.5/20There is a fair bit going on with this wine. Vanillan oak aromas that are surrounded with white peaches, citrus, and melon. The palate is oak-dominated yet the power of the fruit holds up and integrates with the fruit. It has been well crafted and shows some complexity. A wine that will show better when matched with food and has a good deal of life.Moondah Brook Shiraz 1999 rrp $19.99 17/20The quality of fruit in this range of wines seems to keep getting better, making the wines among some of the best value produced in Western Australian.Powerful aromas of black berry with some white peppery spice and mocha. The palate is rich and full of soft fruit, mulberries, black cherries and touches of chocolate. The tannins are firm but with plenty of structure and length of palate. A tad to much oak at present.These wines are widely available For information contact Houghton on 9274 5100. www.brlhardy.com.au– David Pike
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