Leeuwin Estate latest releases

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I enjoyed meeting with Hilary Gibbs of Burgundy specialist importer Domaine Direct to catch up with the latest releases from Margaret River’s Leeuwin Estate.

Leeuwin is most famous for its Art Series Chardonnay which Gibbs’ described as “on same level as premier cru Burgundy,” but with “a more exotic profile.” And I suspect it outlives a fair few premier cru Burgundies.  Let’s see when I co-present a Wine Australia trade tasting in May and show the 2008, 2006 and 2004.

Meantime, here are my notes on the 2008 and 2009 Art Series Chardonnays and other wines from its distinguished portfolio.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Margaret River)

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Most Margaret River Sauvignon is blended with Semillon.  Leeuwin makes the best Margaret River straight Sauvignon I’ve tasted. Pale with an expressive nose it reveals a grassy nose with riper passionfruit and some boskier forest grove notes which follow through in the mouth, together with ripe juicy peach skin notes and a hint of bay leaf.  Lots going on here.   Gravelly, mineral acidity makes for an emphatically dry, long finish. 13.5%  With an RRP of £25 it’s pricy but, to borrow from Gibbs, it might fairly be described as on the same level as Sancerre or Pouilly Fume at that price, but with a more exotic profile.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 2010 (Margaret River)

Leeuwin’s second Chardonnay is no slouch.  This is a well structured wine, its grapefruity, citric spine fleshed out with custard apple, ripe pear, peach and pineapple.  Richly fruited with hints of butterscotch, it finishes long and firm, with an undertow of gravelly acidity.  14%

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2009 (Margaret River)

Pale with green glints this super-long, flagship Chardonnay reveals an excellent concentration of aromatic dried pear with ripe citrus and steelier citrus fruit. With just a touch of nougat, the oak is a little on the back foot, seemingly driving the structure, as opposed to flavour. Muscular and, though very youthful and still quite tightly wound, it lingers long after the spit or swallow.  13.9%

Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay 2008 (Margaret River)

Though more expressive, it’s more concentrated than the 2009 too, with mouth-filling white peach, a lick of white chocolate/vanilla and present but well integrated spicy, toasty oak.  Extremely long and satisfying, this builds in the mouth – terrific in its sheer crescendo and intensity of flavour.  14%

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Margaret River)

When I first tasted Leeuwin Estate’s red wines in 2004, they were pretty austere.  Tasked since 2002 with refining Leeuwin’s Cabernet, winemaker Paul Attwood has come up trumps, even in 2006 – the coolest vintage on record (click here for my note).  In 2007, the pendulum almost swings the other way.  This is an opulent Cabernet with great sucrosity to its fine, powdery tannins and plush, liquorice-edged black currant, berry and red cherry fruit.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Margaret River)

With its perfumed nose and palate of sleek blackcurrant and cedar, this is altogether more refined.  A well-delineated long finish with hints of dried sage exhibits fine, powdery tannins.  Very polished, perfumed and classy.

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