WINE HISTORY OF MARGARET RIVER
Margaret River’s wine history began in the 1830s when the Bussells planted their first vines to make table wine for the family, but the region didn’t really take flight until two research scientists, Professor Harold Olmo (USA) and Dr John Gladstones (Australia) identified it as a potentially great grape growing region.
Margaret River’s geographical isolation proved no problem for these pioneers. Professor Harold Olmo especially, is an unsung hero of the Australian wine industry – his work with Chardonnay in Western Australia has propelled the variety into the Aussie spotlight.
He was so taken with the area, he suggested that many of the parts of the South West might be as good or better than established areas in California and other parts of Australia.
Influenced by University of Western Australia agronomist, Dr John Gladstones - Perth cardiologist, Tom Cullity planted the first Margaret River Vineyard at Vasse Felix in 1967. This was quickly followed by Moss Wood (1969), Cape Mentelle (1970), Cullen (1971), Sandalford (1972), Leeuwin Estate, Woodlands and the Wright family (1973) and signalled the beginnings of a wine industry in the region.
"Almost overnight Margaret River became the most fashionable address in Australia, its future assured, its potential unlimited." - James Halliday
WINE STYLES OF MARGARET RIVER
Margaret River is all about premium wine and the expressions coming out of this region are consistently elegant, not to mention acclaimed! In the red wine category, Margaret River is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of Margaret River and almost every producer has a vintage available from their Cellar Door. This varietal, single-handedly propelled the region into the world’s wine spotlight and today there are more than 160 wineries making Cabernet, 70 of which are five-star rated by Halliday.
When compared with other regions, James Halliday describes Margaret River Cabernet as
“Seldom green, the flavours running in the classic blackcurrant - cassis spectrum with a juicy mid - palate, then moderately firm tannins running through the notes of black olive and earth on the finish ”.
There is a clarity and delicacy to their red fruit flavours and an elegance in their structure which immediately sets them apart."
By way of white wines, front runners in production are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Margaret River is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost regions for chardonnay, known for its incredible voluptuousness. Halliday describes this wine as having an “ Iron-clad structure, intensity with generosity, and sweet fruit with flowing natural acidity ”
While 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc is made with success here, it’s common to find it blended with Semillon. Margaret River Semillon is distinctly herbaceous making it a seamless match to Sauvignon Blanc. As a stand-alone varietal, the maritime influence on the climate sees the Sauvignon Blanc take on an extra dimension of mid-palate flesh.
The plantings here more or less precisely reflect the styles which Margaret River is most famous for and suited to. That said, Cabernet Merlot blends are important, as are blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. These two blends are those of Bordeaux, and it’s no accident that the wines are as good as they are.
Renown Wineries and worth noting are : Amato Vino, Amelia Park, Arimia, Aravina, Ashbrook Estate, Brookland Valley, Brown Hill, Burch Family of Wines @Howard Park, Cape Grace, Cape Mentelle, Carpe Diem, Cherobino, Clairault Streicker, Credaro Wines, Cullen, Deep Woods, Domaine Naturaliste, Driftwood Estate, Evans & Tate, Fermoy, Grace Farm, Gralyn Estate, Hay Shed Hill, Heydon Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Lenton Brae, McHenry Hohnen Vintners, Moss Wood, Pierro, Mr. Barval, Redgate, Rosily, Sandalford, SI Vintners, Stella Bella, Stormflower, Thompson Estate, Vasse Felix, VoyagerEstate, Wills Domaine, Wise Wine, Woodlands and Xanadu - a roll of honour greater than that of any other region.