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translation missing: en.Margaret River: Margaret River

Welcome to the Western Australian Wine Region series, where every week we feature select wine regions from the stretch of Western Australia's extensive coastlines and varying landscapes. Subscribe to our newsletter today or view other articles in this series to learn more about the wines of the region.

Location:

With its pristine beaches, ancient forests, and unique flora and fauna, the Margaret River region is one of the most spectacular wine regions in Australia. And thanks to a group of passionate and dedicated winemakers, it is also one of the best too, producing some of the highest quality wine in the country.


Although only a young region, Margaret River's rise has been nothing short of meteoric. From its earliest vintages in the 1970s, the region established itself as one of the best for producing quality wines. Through the efforts of early pioneers such as Dr. Tom Cullity of Vasse Felix, Dr. Kevin Cullen of Cullen Wines, and Dr. Bill Pannell of Moss Wood, the Margaret River region burst on to the wine scene, gaining international recognition for its outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.


It lies about 3 hours drive directly south of Perth, along the rugged Western Australian coast. The region comprises a 100km strip between the stunning Cape Naturaliste, and equally stunning Cape Naturaliste, from Busselton in the north, down to Augusta in the south. The squareish peninsula on which it sits, juts out about 65kms from the main coastline into the Indian Ocean. Along with the two capes to the north and south, this western coastline means the Margaret River is surrounded by water on three sides, giving it a favourable climate to produce some truly exceptional wines.

Terroir:

Margaret River has a climate unique to Australian wine regions. Hemmed by water on three sides, it’s considered temperate Mediterranean with a heavy maritime influence. Interestingly, the Margaret River region is quite similar to Bordeaux, though it lies 10 degrees of latitude closer to the equator. With the strong influence of the sea, the region's temperatures are buffered by the Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and Geographe Bay, resulting in mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. These conditions offer a long, even ripening period - something that is vital for the production of quality fruit.


One of the distinctive elements of Margaret River's terroir is the soil. Running down the middle of the region is the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge, which connects Cape Naturaliste to the north and Cape Leeuwin to the south. The granite bedrock of the ridge is 150 - 600 million years old, layered in places with two-million-year-old limestone. Over time, the ridge has created a complex network of gneiss, schist and granite-based soils - some of the oldest in the world. These soils are low in nutrients, resulting in low vigour in the vineyard and ideal for producing high-quality grapes.


Other soils throughout the region are comprised of sandy soils, gravelly loams over clay, and red, laterite-based soils, with high levels of aluminum and iron. All of these help to create a premium region with plenty of diversity for grape-growing.

Varieties:

Margaret River produces quite a range of wines, but the two heroes of the region would have to be Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Both of these varieties have gained international recognition for their finesse, elegance and quality. The best Cabernets produced in the region tend to show an astonishing balance of fruit ripeness, acidity and defined tannin structure, and are suited to long-term cellaring. The wines are characterised by red currant and cassis fruit characters, and bay leaf or dried-herb aromas. Margaret River Cabernet is renowned for its concentration, power and complexity.


The Chardonnay from Margaret River is produced mainly from the Gin Gin clone, which produces low crops of small bunches with tiny berries. These provide intense fruit concentration, complex flavours and mineral acidity. The wines are typically concentrated yet refined, with savoury complexity from natural fermentation in French oak barrels. Many Margaret River winemakers opt for a fuller, richer expression of Chardonnay compared to their cooler climate counterparts.


Other top varieties grown in the Margaret River region are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (which are often blended together), and Shiraz. In addition, Merlot, Malbec and small pockets of Petit Verdot are planted here, all of which are usually blended with Cabernet to produce Bordeaux-style blends.


In recent years, Chenin Blanc has emerged as a new alternative variety, with great success. A number of producers, both new and more established winemakers, are beginning to realise the potential of this wonderful grape.

Producers:

Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, Cullen Wines, Domaine Naturaliste, Moss Wood, Cape Mentelle, Fire Gully, Woodlands, Juniper Crossing, Stella Bella, Pierro Vineyards, Si Vintners, Howard Park, Blind Corner, Tripe Iscariot, McHenry Hohnen Vintners, Churchview Estate, Arlewood Estate, Deep Woods Estate, Snake + Herring, Voyager Estate, Dormilona, L.A.S Vino, Nocturne, Larry Cherubino Wines, Sam Vinciullo

 

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