I have decided that Monday will be ‘Halliday Day of the Week’. The purpose of this weekly blog post will be for me to choose a winery or wine style/region by personal choice or request and to review it from James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion (I have the 2012 edition – well thought out birthday gift from BF last year!) as well as to share my own personal opinions and knowledge. First up, for this week, is a winery that is dear to my little wine loving heart!
Leeuwin Estate is found roughly a 15 minute drive to the south of Margaret River on Stevens Road. Rated a solid 5 stars by Halliday with a track record of excellent wines. The winery produces 3 levels of wines from their basic Siblings line to their intermediate Prelude line and their premium Art Series line, all which are overseen my winemaker Paul Atwood. I had the chance to sample the wines when I visited the winery at the start of the year. While the quality was evident in many of their wines the standout wine for me was their Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon (little surprise there!). The wine was so good that I ended up staying and having lunch so I could have a glass to savor and quell my love of it and to resist buying it due to its quite pricy cost (at the time I was used to spending at most $20 for a bottle). The glass with lunch only made me want to take a bottle home with me more and so in the end, I ended up walking out of the winery at the end of my meal with two bottles ($63 each for the 2007 vintage) in tow.
Since returning to Perth I have been casually looking in different bottle shops to find the Cab Sav at a reasonable price – Liquorland had it at $80 which was quite steep in comparison to $63 at cellar door, especially when I finally found it at Woolworths Liquor for $65 and while they were having a 30% off wines sale (which brought it down to $45.50 a bottle). To add even more to my exciting little find was that they had 3 bottles of the 2005 vintage (shown in the top right picture below) on the shelf and then the rest were the 2007 vintage, which was the one that they had to try at the cellar door and to drink by the glass in the restaurant. The 2005 was an amazing drink after about 2 hours in the decanter, it was perfectly smooth and was nicely balanced between the berry and oak notes within the wine.
Halliday reviewed the wines from Leeuwin Estate in the 2012 guide on pages 381-382 and he referred to the Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon a ‘high-quality’ wine. The 2007 vintage was rated with a score of 93 (4 ½ glasses), with a recommended cellaring life to 2027; and the 2006 vintage scored 94 (5 glasses) with cellaring recommended until 2021.
Halliday gave the Art Series Chardonnay produced by Leeuwin Estate the titled of ‘Australia’s finest example’ for Chardonnay’s in his opinion across the quality seen in the last 28 vintages, which is quite the honor to receive. While I do agree with Halliday that it was a quality wine, it was lost on me at the time when I tried it, due to my limited knowledge and appreciation of white wines at the time. I think I will have to revisit Leeuwin in the future to retry the Chardonnay and see how my taste for Margaret River Chardonnays has developed.
The restaurant at the winery has nice views of the vineyard due to its elevated location and the menu (at the time when I went) was small and had a strong emphasis on freshly caught produce from the region. For not being a big lover of a giant piece of steak theirs was well cooked and the accompanying sides of roasted peppers and corn and a bean salad were to die for! Also while in the Margaret River region do try and get your hands on some fresh bread – it is delicious and the perfect start to your meal as you begin to enjoy your wine.
Leeuwin Estate also is host to numerous events and shows throughout the year on their large estate, including its famous annual concert (if you wish to find out more or get tickets they have a mailing list application on their website).
For those looking to try possibly the best that the Margaret River region has to offer must check out Leeuwin Estate at some point. While Voyager Estate next door has a more colonial feel to its architecture and landscaping, unlike Leeuwin’s more natural approach. The biggest ‘pro’ as to why to visit Leeuwin over Voyager is the significantly larger range of wines that are available to sample at the cellar door. Personally however, Voyager’s restaurant had a much wider array of options on the menu to my liking.
Until next time!