The 2018/19 growing season perhaps harked back to conditions more prevalent when the star of Margaret River fine wines was only beginning to rise many years ago. A spring with many showery, wet days interspersed with well timed sunny days around key flowering times led to great fruit set and what shaped the first season of good crop levels in what seemed like years of low yields. Summer was overall quite a cool one with nice warm days on only one real hot spike. An interesting characteristic right through summer this year was that the nights stayed very cool, with several runs of days where the mercury plummeted to less than 10C which is well cooler than our typical summer night time temperatures of around the 14/15C mark. With a couple of rain events throughout Summer, this had us shaping up for a late harvest. Fortunately after a couple of big rain events in January we only had a few showery days through February and March and the grapes we able to mature and ripen slowly and steadily into Autumn. We picked the Cabernet for this wine in the second and third weeks of April which is the latest I have picked fruit in the 16 years I have worked down here.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes came from 3 incredible vineyard blocks all in the real ‘Dress Circle’ of Margaret River viticulture in the heart of the Wilyabrup sub-region. The wonderful Forest Grove soils – gravelly/stoney, free-draining loams over moisture holding clay which predominate in the Wilyabrup sub-region and the favourable climatic conditions which occur here result in the production of some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world. These qualities have been on show year after year and result in consistently outstanding fruit quality with the finest of our fine wines being produced from grapes grown here.
All of the grapes for this wine were handpicked into small 8kg crates and immediately transported back to the winery where they were gently de-stemmed and not crushed, directly into their small fermentation vessels, a procedure which allowed the ferment to start with what were almost totally unburst, undamaged individual berries. The wines were fermented on skins utilising the indigenous yeasts, which arrived on the grape skins when the fruit arrived at the winery.
The must underwent a slow, steady ferment with hand plunging twice each day. The fermenting grapes remained on skins for 16-21 followed by gentle basket to French oak barriques, with a small portion (33%) being new. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrel utilising the activity of indigenous bacteria. The wine was left to mature for 23 months in barrel during which time it was racked via gravity one time and topped regularly.
1 day before bottling the wine was racked out of barrel to tank and was then bottled unfined and unfiltered.