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An important sub-region in the Great Southern GI, Porongurup is known for producing exemplary cool-climate wines. It's the smallest sub-region within the Great Southern, but one that is gaining traction with its superbly concentrated and mineral driven whites, such as Riesling.
The region sits about 50kms north of Albany, and just to the east of Mount Barker. All up, it's about four and half hours' drive south east of Perth, just below the Stirling Range.
The region is based around (and named after) the small town of Porongurup – itself named after the Porongurups, a group of domed granite peaks whose formation dates back millions of years to the Precambrian age. This striking rock formation reaches a height of 670 meters at its peak, and is clearly visible from any vineyard in the region.
The Porongurup sub-region boasts a Mediterranean climate, with a higher elevation contributing to its cooler temperatures. Most of the vineyards of the region sit somewhere between 250m to 400m above sea level. Porongurup also sees some influence from the mass of the Great Southern Ocean, located just 40kms to the south. The cooling "Albany Doctor" breeze comes daily in the afternoon during the warmer summer months, providing a much needed respite from the heat of the day. These cooling influences ensure a long and even ripening period, which results in high quality fruit and wines.
The altitude of the vineyards in Porongurup also creates an important thermal air flow pattern, in which the denser, cooler air flows to the lower valley floor, allowing a cushion of warmer air to sit above, thus protecting the vines from frosts.
The soils of the Porongurup region are derived from the geomorphic granite of the spectacular Porongurup Range. These granitic loams are named after the local dominant eucalyptus species, karri, and are found throughout the region.
The star performer in Porongurup is Riesling. The combination of higher altitudes, cool air, and rocky soils with low fertility, result in incredibly concentrated fruit which produces wines of intensity and drive, with a clear mineral tone. Most Riesling from this region is fermented dry, but a few winemakers are starting to produce more textural, off-dry styles too.
Along with Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet, and Pinot Noir are all produced here to great success. The naturally cooler climate results in elegant wines with more savoury complexity. Porongurup Pinot Noir in particular, has enjoyed a recent moment-in-the-sun, with eminent Burgundian winemaker Pascal Marchand selecting fruit from the region for his prestigious Marchand & Burch label.
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are also grown and produced here, showcasing wonderfully vibrant, cool-climate styles.
Castle Rock Estate, Dukes Vineyard