Continuing with our exploration of the great state and country of Australia, we are on to the western part of the nation. The Margaret River region is a major geographical region in has only been involved in wine production for about 50 years. It sits in the farthest west area of Australia, an isolated part of nature that is a scientific wonderland.
In the late 50s and early 60s, Professor Harry Olmo and Dr. John Gladstone discovered that this hidden maritime region had climatic conditions that were perfect for producing wine. The warm, dry summer plus winter rainfall and clay subsoil combined to provide the ideal viticultural conditions.
Harry Olmo was one of the first to recognize the potential of this region after he was exploring the climate of an area nearby. It was Dr. Gladstone who studied the true capabilities in terms of viticulture specifically and he published a huge project based on this information. Mr. Tom Cullity, a cardiologist from Perth, was the first to actually plant in the Margaret River region after reading Gladstone’s paper, establishing the founding winery of the area, Vasse Felix in 1967.
Like a lot of Australia, the Margaret River region has a penchant for incredible red wines, specifically Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. This area has become increasingly prominent in the greater wine industry for the Cab Sauv, a medium-bodied, aromatic beauty with the perfect acidity and tannins. The region’s second most planted grape is the Shiraz, a full-bodied red that is overflowing with fruit flavors.
The Margaret River region has produced its own distinctive white wine blend, made from Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc, which are lively and fresh. Many producers in the area introduce barrel fermentation to these which add to the complexity.
With over 215 wineries, this little spot on the map produces a whopping 20% of Australia’s overall wine. Although some stick to classic winemaking practices, many of these producers look to the excellent environmental conditions to try new and interesting methods. Biodynamic and organic winemaking are increasingly popular here as is barrel fermentation and hand harvesting, which all contribute to making unique wines.
If you have the opportunity to visit this majestic region, you are in for a treat. It’s a little bit hard to get around so book yourself a tour and experience first hand the amazing quality wines the Margaret River region is creating.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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