Highlights: Annual Western Australia Tasting

Benchmark stuff

Benchmark stuff

The Government of Western Australia European Office’s annual London tasting is getting bigger and bigger.  It was good to see such depth around its leading regions’ key strengths – Cabernet blends, Chardonnay and Riesling.

With a little over an hour to taste, I tasted but a small selection of the wines shown (full details here) – mostly whites.  Below you’ll find my highlights, which include a Cabernet from the estate which impressed me the most at a recent blind Decanter Margaret River Panel Tasting – Xandau.  Second time around, I was impressed again, this time by a different vintage of their Estate Cabernet (they didn’t show my top-scorer, the Reserve Cabernet).  The Decanter Margaret River Cabernet Panel Tasting is reported in the January 2017 edition, which is just out.

The wines were tasted on 6 October 2016.

Frankland Estate Rocky Gully Riesling 2016 (Great Southern)

I always look forward to tasting Frankland Estate’s Rieslings – among Australia’s best.  The entry level Rocky Gully aims for a rounder, more generous palate.  In 2016, it has lovely depth and talcy texture to its ripe but well defined pear fruit and finishes long and spicy.  RRP £15.95

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2014 (Great Southern)

Always a compelling Rielsing

Always a compelling Riesling

This single vineyard Riesling was fermented in tanks and (neutral) oak at low temperatures (less than 14 deg C) over 12 weeks with minimal intervention. It has a fragrant nose of lime blossom – notes of which follow through in the mouth. But the principal characteristic which dominates the firm, punchy even, palate is minerality.  Great line and length thanks to its tightly wound grapefruity acidity and lingering perfume.  RRP £22.20

Swinney Tirra Lirra Riesling Blend 2015 (Great Southern)

I’d not come across this family-owned label before. The Swinney family have sizeable vineyards on their 6000 acre Frankland River Estate.  I understand that Larry Cherubino makes the wines, including this interesting Riesling Pinot Gris Gewurztraminer blend.  It’s pretty, crystalline and citrussy with an intriguing, slightly sandy texture to the finish – I guess part of its crystalline character.  RRP £18.79

Pierro L.t.c. 2015 (Margaret River)

This (50%) Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (45%) blend is cut with 5% Chardonnay.  It is a very attractive drink – ready to go with a lifted nose of kaffir lime, talc, lemon and limes, which follow through in the mouth, which has a marvellous smoky/gravelly whetsone minerality.  Lovely persistence and line; deft use of oak.  Very well done.  RRP £18.95

Fraser Gallop Parterre Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Margaret River)


As the label suggests, this tilts its hat at Bordeaux.  Successfully too.  A crisp, very limey, mineral white Bordeaux blend with steely grapefruit and oak spice.  A long, textural finish is refined, very persistent.  RRP £24.99

Harewood Estate Reserve Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Great Southern)

A fruitier style than the Fraser Gallop, with lifted passionfruit as well as grapefruit and minerals. Firm, well-structured finish.  RRP £19.99

Harewood Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2014 (Great Southern)

Reflects the firm house style, with good oak and acid drive. Flavourwise, the oak is well managed, allowing this wine’s grapefruit and lemon citrus notes to shine with just a lick of vanilla/custard creams to the finish.  RRP £26.99

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Chardonnay 2012 (Great Southern)

One senses this comes from the hand of a Riesling maker.  Or perhaps it is the vineyard I should be highlighting.  At any rate, this is a firm Chardonnay with custard apple (a touch of creaminess), lime zest, dried pear and vanillin and a firm backbone of acidity.  So very gin gin (clone).  RRP £20.70

Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2015 (Margaret River)


Always a smart buy, in 2015, Filius has a lovely generosity to its rich, ripe peach palate – very good intensity and weight in the mouth at this price point.  For a little under a tenner more, Vasse Felix Chardonnay is very classic in its fruit driven style, but buys you more complexity, depth of flavour and length. RRP (Filius) £15.99

Xanadu Estate Chardonnay 2014 (Margaret River)


Made in a very contemporary style, this is a terse, textural Chardonnay – very energetic, with flinty, matchstick reduction, savoury chew and a bright, lemony acidity to its core.  Tightly wound, with terrific focus and length.  Very good.  Nice price too. RRP £18.99

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chardonnay 2013 (Margaret River)

As you would expect from Leeuwin Estate, a very accomplished Chardonnay – layered with spicy, toasty, oak complexity to its stone fruit, savoury, leesy chew and a firm, acid backbone.  Lovely depth and balance.  RRP £27.99

Pierro Chardonnay 2014 (Margaret River)

Like Leeuwin Estate, Pierro have maintained their concentrated, oak-driven style to great effect.  A generous, very textural palate with ripe white peach and racier lemon/lemony acidity, nougat, cashew and oatmeal, the whole well buttressed by oak.  Very good.  RRP £39.95

Stella Bella Luminosa Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River)

A beautifully balanced, generous Chardonnay with classic Margaret River rock melon and white peach fruit, under-pinned by al dente lemony acidity which lends impetus to its waves of fruit.  The finish is long and satisfying.  RRP £34.90

Abbey Vale Reserve Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Margaret River)


This strikes me as good value.  Pretty classic, with a core of blackcurrant fruit and complexing nuances of tobacco, mulch and herbs; dark chocolately, ripe tannins lend support.  Solid stuff.  14.5%  RRP £9.99-10.99

Allegory Pinot Noir 2014  (Great Southern)

The Burch family know a thing or two about Pinot Noir – both as collectors of fine Burgundy and thanks to their collaboration with Pascal Marchand, making Pinot Noir in Burgundy and Great Southern under the Marchand & Burch label.  This is a very drinkable Pinot Noir with creamy red summer berry fruits and smooth tannins; well balanced acidity gives animation and length to the fruit.  13.5% RRP £14.99

Harewood Estate F-Block Pinot Noir 2015 (Great Southern)


Very pale, with smoky, earthy over and undertones to its delicate red berry and riper, cinnamon-kissed black cherry fruit.  Needs time to flesh out, but promising tension between the savoury and fruity elements of this wine.  RRP £19.99

Xanadu Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River)

Much like the later vintages I (blind) tasted at the September Decanter panel tasting, this Cabernet excels in its fine detail and finesse.  Filigree tannins form a delicate weave around its animated, black cherry and currant violet, cinnamon and cedar-laced fruit.  A balsamic note adds savoury tang to a long, harmonious finish.  Lovely.  RRP £18.99

Hayshed Hill Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Margaret River)

It has been a while since I visited Mike Kerrigan at this, one of Margaret River’s early vineyards in the heart of Wilyabrup.  This single block Cabernet has a spicy, very animated palate of red and black fruits with perfumed dried herbs, piquant horseradish and savoury balsamic notes.  Very persistent, with plentiful but fine supporting tannins.  RRP £29.95


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