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Wines of Margaret River

© 2009 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Margaret River, Australia.

CLAIRAULT

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Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Vineyard has three creeks running through it, and seems to be cooler than its latitude would suggest, helped by breezes from Southern ocean only five miles away. Really juicy, gooseberry and herbal punch. Lots of fruit and fantastic verve, as Will Shields keeps acid and sugar both pretty low to let the fruit show through. Only 12.5. alcohol. 89/100. In Marks & Spencer.

Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Sixty five percent Semillon, with no oak. Adds a lot more lemony punch, with a big streak of lime and a touch of straw-like character. The palate has fantastic pithy lemon acidity, with a real pithy dryness. Deliciously drinkable. 13%. 90/100. With Waverly.

Estate Chardonnay 2006
250-500 cases, The black label estate wines are the flagships of the range. Comes from the 'L' block. Chardonnay is prone to wind damage in this area, but this block is protected. Like many Western Australian Chardonnays, this is a clone called 'Gingin' (named after a town north of Perth where the mother vineyard is sited). The all French oak (33% new) gives a wonderfully buttery, slightly herbal green bean quality, and the fruit is focused and cool. Lovely acidity (all natural). Long and beautifully balanced. 92/100

Shiraz 2005
Will Shields says "Cabernet is more of our focus, and we don't grow any Shiraz on the property." For this wine he uses older French oak. This has a green, herbal and menthol character, with savoury cherry fruit and olive. The fruit on the palate is savoury and chewy, with a tobacco and leathery touch, and a nice tangy finish. Fairly easy drinking but has a good bit of spice and structure. 87/100. In Waverly.

Cabernet Merlot 2005
A touch of leafy, under-ripe fruit quality (60% Cabernet), with a certain herbal streak and lots of red plum fruit. Big and plush on the palate, and again although there's a slightly tobacco and ashy quality, the softness of the fruit and the breadth is good. The tannins are quite soft, but give a chewy texture offset by good acidity and a keen core of blackcurrant that comes through. 88/100.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Quite a lot of the fruit for this comes from the 'A' Block, which is 30-year-old fruit and constitutes the Estate Cab Sauvignon. Lovely Cabernet nose, with that green, herbal edge that is so typical, a touch of floral quality and plenty of black fruit. The palate develops lovely depth, with hints of chocolate and smokiness, but there's a cherry bright edge that plays against the spice too, keeping it fresh despite a whopping 15% Alcohol. Deliciously moreish. 90/100. In Marks & Spencer.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Again has that slightly ashy, green-tinged quality, but the tight core of black fruit comes through powerfully. There's a lovely fruit here, and lots of racy, punchy tannin and spice. Seems a touch leaner than the 2005 perhaps, but also riper and sweeter at its core. Lovely length and oak quality too. 91/100

Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Double gold winner at IWC 2009, comes from old vines and has some Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, adding around 3% each. Around 40% new oak. Big, plush nose, with much less of the greenness, and a rounded, plummy, but fresh and sweet fruit. Lovely big, broad, bloody palate, with plenty of depth and smooth, elegant tannins that are quite chocolaty and sweet. Lovely balance and acidity. 94/100. In Marks & Spencer.

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