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Houghton Wines has honoured Dr John Gladstone, one of Australia’s most respected viticulturists, as David Pike reports.

LARRY Cherubino’s first vintage as senior winemaker at Houghton Wines was the fantastic 1999 vintage, regarded by many as one of WA’s best in the past decade. Larry recently described 1999 as a special vintage, but one that he and many other members of his winemaking team didn’t remember very much about.

“This first vintage period was an amazing experience. We all seemed to be running all the time to keep up and get ours heads around what we were doing,” he says.

“It was a vintage when we did make some mistakes, but as most winemakers around the world will tell you, some mistakes make great wine. As it turns out we were able to produce some very good results with wines from the 1999 vintage.”

While barely remembering the vintage period, Larry does remember that several parcels of shiraz that come in from their Frankland River vineyards in 1999 were “very special”.

One of those parcels of fruit, in particular, was to become the basis for Gladstone’s Shiraz, a new premium release from Houghton Wines named after Dr John Gladstone, a pioneering lupin researcher and one of Australia’s most respected viticulturists.

Dr Gladstone told those at the wine’s recent release of his earliest memories of the winery

Apparently his parents used to play tennis on the courts in front of what is now the offices out at the winery in the Swan Valley and the young Gladstone used to watch from inside an old tea chest.

His other memories are a little more fluid. Having taken up residence at St Georges College at UWA, he and his room-mate would head out to Houghtons to replenish their supply, which had become a cellar with clean skins at about two schillings a bottle.

Dr Gladstone’s university thesis and research into lupins further enhanced his relationship with Houghton Wines.

The legendary Jack Mann gave Dr Gladstone a vineyard out at Houghtons where he was able to undertake his PhD research on lupins.

It was also during his lupin research that he began investigating the geographical specifics of various regions in WA that would be best suited for grape growing.

Dr Gladstone’s work in identifying those regions, and in particular his understanding of the specifics of varieties’ performance and the development of regional characteristics, has been invaluable to many of WA’s producers.

It is thus a fitting tribute that Houghtons should name its premium regional wine after Dr John Gladstone.

“I hope to have a word or two, in time, with the powers that be to allow me to travel the constellations with shiraz, as it was Jack Mann who stated that the only wine served in heaven would be cabernet sauvignon,” Dr Gladstone says.

“I am sure Jack would have thoroughly enjoyed this wine; I am thankful of the recognition by the Houghton Wine company.”

Houghton Gladstones Shiraz 1999 rrp $60.00. Limited release available through selected liquor stores. Contact 92745100 for stockists.

From the cellar

Wynns Coonawarra Riesling 1997 17.75/20 points

Haven’t had a look at this wine for a couple of years and was a little sceptical about how it would be travelling. The first bottle I pulled out was corked (another point for Stelvin), however the second bottle was a treat.

This cost me $8.99 by the dozen, and at that price this is stunning value. Showing some development, a little paraffin, some marmalade characters and yet an underlying hint of citrus with the aromatics of the wine. The palate was still showing a vibrancy of fruit with some touches of citrus and a lime marmalade undertone. It is beginning to head into extra time, as the acidity is showing signs of fatigue but there is half a season left in this bargain.

Something local

Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2002 rrp $22.99 18.75/20 points

Simply stunning. This would have to be among the very best wines each year produced in WA. Another of those wines that will be opened nearly as many times as my fridge over the spring and summer months. It’s a delight. Pungent gooseberry and citrus aromas that have an underlinking herbal and orange blossom character.

The palate is heavenly; plenty of citrus lemon yet touches of stone fruits make a fleeting appearance with a slight mineral complexity. Superb fruit weight and great length.

Something

foreign

Domaine de Fenouillet, Beaume de Venise, Cotes du Rhone Village Cuvee Yuon Sord 2000 rrp $36 18.75/20points

This is a ripper from the French.

Exotic perfumed aromas – violets, spice black cherries and cherry blossom.

The palate is unique; it displays a host of exotic perfumed characters. Created from a blend of grenache movedra and syrah, this wine will dazzle you from start to finish.

Black cherries, blackberry pith and plumy fruits combine with an acid lift and soft rounded tannins to entice you into this wine, which is quite a chameleon.

Each time you lift your glass you find yet another character.

With small quantities available through the Nedlands Park Hotel, this one is well worth seeking out.

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