The famous and ancient Porongurups provides the backdrop for some of the State’s best wineries, as David Pike reports.
THE Porongurups provides a spectacular setting for the many wineries of the State’s South West – Spring View Wines, Abbey Creek and Mt Trio among them. But if I could select just one vineyard in which to open out the deck chair and spend my days, I would find it hard to go past Angelo Diletti’s Castle Rock Estate. While a spectacular setting, the Porongurups can be a difficult place to grow grapes. Some winemakers would describe the conditions as marginal for viticulture. It can be cold and susceptible to frost, it does get very hot, and it does rain. Ripening, therefore, can be difficult.
Despite these apparent hurdles the region produces its fair share of very good wines.
One of the producers whose efforts I have enjoyed following for the past decade is Castle Rock. Angelo Diletti bought the property in 1981 with a plan to “consolidate then grow, consolidate then grow”.
It is a mantra some producers entering the wine industry in recent times should have learned. The usual varieties all exist on the property. However it is the consistent star performer of the estate – riesling – that has really impressed around Australia. And I can see pinot noir joining that category in desirable vintages, as winemaker Rob Diletti has shown the variety to have very good purity of fruit in such vintages.
Rod Diletti took over the winemaking duties after the completion of Castle Rock’s winery development in 2001, although he had been overseeing the wines in his role as assistant winemaker to Michael Staniford at Alkoomi, where the wines were being made.
Angelo Diletti has become the cellar hand during vintage and is happy being told what to do.
Castle Rock crushes about 150 tonnes of fruit in its new home and has undertaken a small number of contract winemaking tasks.
The quietly spoken Rob Diletti is very quickly establishing a very good reputation for his winemaking skills and attention to detail.
There is no question that Castle Rock is in good hands. With Angelo ensuring the remarkable consistency in the vineyard is maintained, and Rob in the winery, I know I will continue to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Castle Rock 2003 Riesling (released around October)
This one was only in the bottle for a few days when I tried the wine. It had classic perfumed aromas with mineral and lime citrus notes. The palate was intense lime citrus and a slate minerality, lively acidity and a degree of chalkiness across the mid palate and very sound length. It is a really good wine from a classically difficult Porongurups vintage.
Castle Rock Riesling 2002 rrp $19 19/20
A spectacular example of the quality of riesling coming out of this winery. Vibrant and explosive with citrus and minerals bound up in a tight ball that is slowly unwinding. The wine shows extraordinary length of palate and the pedigree to live for a very long time. Make a mental note to watch this wine over the next five years. A classic Porongurups riesling
Castle Rock 2001 Riesling rrp $19 18/20
The wine has an apple blossom perfume with an undertone of citrus spice and mineral notes. The palate displays a backbone of citrus and the mineral notes across the mid palate hold everything in place; it has a powerful finish and plenty of fruit persistence.
Castle Rock 1997 Riesling (from my cellar) 18/20
I have tasted a number of rieslings from the 1997 and without doubt this wine remains the freshest and brightest wine in the mixed bag of wines tried. It shows some development on the nose yet still shows a lime citrus. The palate is lively with a degree of sweetness appearing in tune with lime citrus, mouth-filling acidity and a long and very persistent finish. Still with a little life left, but delicious right now.