Cabernet: The King of Margaret River wines



The King of Margaret River wines

Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of Margaret River region wine. More than any other varietal it has propelled the region into the consciousness of wine drinkers around the world. Bordeaux is the cradle of Cabernet, but Margaret River is part of a select band of west coast wine regions across the world that excel at Cabernet.

Ask a winemaker or a local here to talk about Cabernet and you should prepare to settle in. We did just that for our Margaret River Makers video series, catching up with some of Australia’s most respected makers of Cabernet. Once we got them talking it was hard to get them to stop. Here’s a taster of what they had to say.

Margaret River Cabernet | 50 Years in the Making

Stuart Watson, Winemaker, Woodlands Winery

“Our family has always believed Cabernet is the best grape we produce. When the grapes come in the Cabernet ferment always smells the best. I think the best wines are the wines that have the least amount done to them. Everything we do as winemakers I like to think is supporting the fruit characters from the vineyard.”

Virginia Willcock, Winemaker, Vasse Felix

“Most great Cabernet in the world is grown with a maritime influence, close to the sea where you have that breeze. But Margaret River also has a Mediterranean climate where we have that warm dry summer and a beautiful long dry season.

We’re not under pressure to harvest our grapes early because of rain, because of disease, because of rot; all the things that winemakers are under pressure to harvest for.

The beautiful sea breeze is what buys us weeks of ripening. It keeps the berries in tact and means they come in as a perfect round berry without any shrivel, without any issues, so you end up with a beautiful soft tannin ripened until the end of the season where the tannin profile is perfect.”

Bruce Dukes, Winemaker, Domaine Naturaliste

“The typicity of Margaret River Cabernet comes through the beautiful vivid red and black fruit characters and particularly the characters of mulberry and cassis, and it’s how those beautiful red and black fruit perfumes interact with silky velvety tannins that coat your mouth and give a really beautiful textural experience. To me that’s the epitome of Cabernet from Margaret River.”

Andrew Watson, Winemaker, Woodlands Winery

“Cabernet likes to be straight. It likes to be pure. So when you make it you’ve got to reflect that. So you just get into the vineyard and that’s where the craft comes from. If you get the picking date wrong you really are going to have a wine that’s out of balance. And Cabernet will show that, when that happens. So it’s really the variety where you have to think about your expression; if you’re painting it, you’ve got to be painting with the finer brush. You can’t be mucking around. Cabernet knows the way it wants to be made and you have to make it that way.

In a red wine the things that refresh you are the tannin levels. The tannin of Margaret River Cabernet is fine, sometimes more gravelly in the south and more plush in the north. The flavours are beautiful ripe red berry, dark berry characters that are really soothing. They make you feel like you’ve come home and sat by the fire.”

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Author Max Brearley

Max Brearley is a food writer, critic, consultant and host working with The Australian, The Guardian, Halliday, Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Truffle Kerfuffle, Conde Nast Traveller and delicious. to name just a few. A passion for a good yarn and great produce has seen him forage for native foods in the north west of WA, follow abalone from ocean to plate in the south west and dig for black truffles in the towering Southern Forests. He’s also been known to cast a critical eye over a meal or two for The Australian’s annual Hot 50 Restaurants and delicous., as well as producing written, visual and event content for organisations across Australia and globally. Whilst a proud Yorkshireman; he’s been moving south for much of his life. Relocating from London to Perth in 2012, a move to the southwest soon followed, where life girt by sea and vines is more than agreeable. Instagram: @max_brearley / Twitter: @maxbrearley / Web:

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