Wine’s a funny thing – so much is invested in marketing mystique and selling a story, some producers sometimes get passed by in the wine media. And when you’re located in one of the most remote wine regions on the planet, it’s easy to get skipped over.
Some of Australia’s larger operators are more or less driven by their marketing departments but (happily) in ‘Margs’ it’s a bit more owner/operator oriented. Some choose to focus solely on the myriad tasks associated with running a vineyard, winery and cellar door. Others might lack the time, resources or nous to court parts of the wine media. Some, perhaps rightly, find aspects of self-promotion a bit distasteful and fear being considered boastful. And in truth telling the world how great you are in a crowded marketplace can be a bit wearing.
Happily, for those of us on the other side of the counter, this often translates to flat out bargains and the distinct thrill in tracking down a hidden gem and presenting it to those who think they really know their way around the wines of a region or indeed Australia. There are plenty of said gems in the region, and here’s just a few producers you may have missed.
Chris and Jo Davies have been quietly, consistently assembling one of the regions better show records. And all of it comes from the most pure of orientations to wine production: vineyard, Vineyard, VINEYARD. The wines are classy because the fruit is classy, and the winemaking judicious, with a light hand shepherding fruit purity and integrity to bottle. For me the Chardonnays are the pick of the bunch, but the basket pressed reds are consistently terrific and have a genuine brightness about them, without ever being overblown or tarty. Alana Langworthy’s cheese attached to cellar door is a fantastic, funky bonus when visiting.
Special mention up this end of town: Windance Estate (really on the march), Credaro Family Estate (an old Italian family crafting modern Margaret River excellence). And of course down the road to Arimia, where you can pop by and be bored witless by yours truly.
Between (the also excellent) Thompson and Ashbrook Estates is Heydon, George and Mary Heydon’s focused, small scale, but nevertheless terrific venture. Blessed with well drained, gravelly soils in the heart of Wilyabrup, George and Mary sculpt properly spiffing Chardonnay and Cabernet in particular. For those seeking regional typicity, these are really great examples. You want a Margs Chardonnay with the fruit weight that is a happy antidote to the anemia of current Chard trends? Here’s your guy. You want Cabernet redolent of blackcurrant and bay, wedded to high quality Margs tannin and good oak? Here you go. Generally released with some time behind them, these are properly wines of distinction. Drop by, take a look at the wines, and have a look at their neighbours wares whilst you’re at it. It’s a nice little pocket.
With a couple of glamorous neighbours, it’s easy to pass Redgate by. And that’d be a shame. Rustic, but with a beautiful outlook, Redgate has a particular charm that could come across as drab and a bit tuckered out, but for Joel Page’s (pictured) excellent winemaking. My first cellar job was at Redgate, and I was immediately struck by just how thoughtful a guy Joel is generally, but most particularly when it comes to wine (in this he reminds me greatly of Flametree’s Julian Scott). Under Joel’s watch, aided by invigorated owners, Redgate’s Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have hit their straps, and the reserve releases in particular are noteworthy, the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc being one of the region’s best put together and ambitious iterations of the variety.