24/08/2004 - 22:00

Tintagel breaks through

24/08/2004 - 22:00

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A WESTERN Australian roughie has streaked the field in the past few weeks to find itself on James Halliday’s list of top 10 new wineries nationwide and with a gold medal from last week’s 2004 Sheraton Perth WA Wine Awards.

A WESTERN Australian roughie has streaked the field in the past few weeks to find itself on James Halliday’s list of top 10 new wineries nationwide and with a gold medal from last week’s 2004 Sheraton Perth WA Wine Awards.

And while people are quickly becoming familiar with the product, especially the award-winning Tintagel 2001 Semillon, a few are wondering how the name is pronounced.

Tintagel, or ‘tin-ta-jel’ as it is enunciated, seems to have sprung from nowhere.

The label, founded by Murray Westphal and his family, is based in what could be described as Margaret River’s purple paddock, situated among esteemed peers Leeuwin Estate and Devil’s Lair in the area’s gravelly loams (about 15 kilometres south of Margaret River).

The Westphals purchased the eight-hectare property in 1993 and planted their first vines in 1997. The first vintage arrived in 2000.

The Tintagel name and label was inspired by the legend of King Arthur. (According to the famed tale, Tintagel Castle, in Cornwall, was the birthplace and home of the king, the court of Camelot and knights of the round table.)

This legend was incorporated into the brand’s labels, which have an Arthurian theme.

Mr Westphal says that, until recently, the winery has operated as a low-profile family business, but now it was “all go”.

Assisting Mr Westphal and the Tintagel brand are winemaker Mark Messenger, on loan from Juniper Estate, and vineyard manager Mark Godridge.

Both Juniper Estate and Janice McDonald’s brands, Suckfizzle and Stella Bella, receive fruit from Tintagel’s vineyard.

It is from Tintagel’s grapes that Stella Bella’s chardonnay is produced. This vintage, part of the merlot and cabernet sauvignon harvest is expected to go to Juniper for production.

The vineyard has the potential to produce up to 70,000 bottles a year, allowing the group of local vignerons to share the yield.

Tintagel currently produces about 1,000 cases annually, but Mr Westphal says this could be increased to 5,000 cases.

To date, Tintagel has had a quiet presence in local cellars, and Mr Westphal concedes that the Western Australian market has been tough to crack.

“Our main activity has been in the eastern States, establishing clients in five-star restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane,” he says.

“Ben (my son) is over there knocking on doors at the moment.

“We have quite a strong client base in Sydney’s five-star restaurants, and we’ve also got a distributor in Malaysia.

“We’ll probably look at setting something up in Singapore soon as well.”

While the vineyard is currently growing chardonnay, shiraz, semillon, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon, the Tintagel label is represented by only the semillon and shiraz varieties.

These two varieties achieved ratings over 90 from James Halliday, meeting the criteria for the top 10 new wineries list, an achievement sure to prompt enquiry about the brand.

“At the moment we are selling to a direct clientele through our website, and this is our primary source of trade,” Mr Westphal says.

“Our challenge now is to build a strong base here in WA and continue to build in the eastern States. We’d like to establish direct trade with local restaurants.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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