We are very excited to announce we have three exceptional new wines from Leeuwin Estate arriving this week.
To celebrate the arrival of these exceptional Art Series wines – a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz - you can claim a discount of 10%. Just enter the code 'Art Series'when you checkout. You have to buy any three of the wines listed here to get the discount, which expires on Sunday July 25 at midnight.
Leeuwin Estate was born in the mid-1970s, when founders Denis and Tricia Horgan decided to plant vines on their cattle ranch, a few miles in from the coast in Western Australia’s Margaret River, 100 miles south of Perth, Australia.
It proved to be an inspired decision, and with famous American winemaker Robert Mondavi on hand to give advice and guidance in the early days, they hit the ground running. Within a couple of years of their first vintage (1979) they were winning both plaudits and awards worldwide. Their Art Series Chardonnay became one of the most must-have wines of Australia almost overnight from its first vintage in 1980, and they realised they had created something very special.
They were amongst the first wineries in Western Australia to plant Chardonnay, using various Burgundian clones, in an area more familiar with Bordeaux varietals, and what a great decision that was.
Leeuwin always liked comparing its Chardonnay to Burgundies. As one of the five founding estates in the Margaret River they planted Chardonnay from the start, so it is the real identity of Leeuwin Estate.
It absorbs the maritime influence and Mediterranean climate. There are so many different expressions of the grape, but it has concentration, elegance, purity without being too rich, and minerality.
The vineyards have now reached a good age (the oldest are now 46) and the maritime climate that they enjoy allows for extra hang-time, which helps develop complexity, flavour and intensity, without making the wines too rich.
The maritime influence from both the Southern Ocean and, more importantly, the Indian Ocean, cannot be overstated, bringing a cool climate angle to a warm, Mediterranean climatic environment. The freshness and linear aspects that this influence creates is both critical and delightful. In fact, it could be argued that the three wines offered here bear more resemblance to Burgundy, the Northern Rhône and Bordeaux (left bank) respectively than they do to most of their homegrown peers. If you don’t know these wines and you think you know Aussie wines, then think again and take a couple of cases. You will be mightily impressed, and perhaps not a little surprised.
So let’s look a little closer at each wine and get a guided tour of the vineyard with senior winemaker Tim Lovett. He explains that the site, 30km inland from the Indian Ocean, gives a beautiful Mediterranean climate, influenced by the Indian Ocean, more so during harvest. “We are positioned in one of the most isolated wine regions in the world, 350km south of Perth, and produce wines of great consistency of fruit.” Lovett explains that the region also has microclimates, so had a great ability to produce wines across the board.
He is particularly excited about the 2018 Art Series Chardonnay (£75), describing it is the “jewel in the portfolio”. The vines were planted in 1975 and 1976, in two plots of land on the site called Block 20 and Block 22. Block 20 runs north to south, so the vines see the sun in the morning, while block 22 goes east-west so goes over the vines themselves. The soil has loam in block 20 but rich gravel, the bedrock goes down to 600m years. The aspect is westerly and alluvial, rainwater moves towards a brook. So to summarise, the grapes from Block 20 give richness and length, while Block 22 is about finesse. When the two plots are put together they work really well.
This 2018 vintage was described as “one of the best ever” in terms of weather and growing conditions, a “gift from Mother Nature”. The resulting wine is what Lovett describes as having “incredible power and concentration, the epitome of what we seek in Chardonnay.” The fruit is “all neat and tidy”, with lime, pear and nectarine.
The grapes were hand-harvested by a dedicated team of 60 pickers. They were de-stemmed, not whole bunch pressed, chilled down under CO2 for 6-8 hours to amplify the vineyard without any other input. Lovett describes his production method as “expressing what I see in the vineyard and a gentle hand, it’s about nurture and preservation and translation.”
The wine was then fermented in 100% new French oak, sourced from six coopers. No malolactic fermentation takes place.
The resulting Chardonnay has an opulence and longevity that can last for decades, especially with a screwcap. The oak is in the background but it has a presence – the fruit is “on the pedestal”.
The 2017 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon (£50) also comes from vines which were planted in 1975 and 1976, which have an affinity to the Margaret River, a benchmark varietal in the region. It is a dry-grown site called Block 8, with lean, gravelly soil, south-east facing and super-low yielding. Because the vines are dry-grown the skin-to-juice ration is higher, with lots of colour and tannins, a lot more structure, bold and present.
Flavours are dark cherry, blackcurrent, cumin, clove elements, with lavendar too. The fruit is so powerful it's about nurturing the tannins.
Not a lot of leaf removal takes place because the vines are not throwing canopy, it's maintaining its own environment. It’s a wine of incredible presence and power, which opens up and breathes. Matured in 50% French oak from structural coopers, then sees 23-24 months of maturation but put together after about nine months. The grapes are hand-harvested to create a wine that is unique to the Leeuwin estate.
The 2018 Art Series Shiraz, (£29) grows very differently to cabernet sauvignon, with incredible personality and pedigree and spice, like a northern Rhone. Shiraz is a fickle variety, it likes to throw canopy, and it elevates the spice, red and blue fruit spectrum. Medium-bodied, with pepper notes, and fermented in Burgundian oak, so has a graphite spectrum. A wine that benefits from being planted in cooler sites by people who understood it, and now seeing vines age on the right sites and seeing the rewards. Whole bunch fermentation lifts the rose petal and Turkish delight aspects, and also drives the wines. From a vineyard inland planted in the late-90s.
Don’t forget you can claim a discount of 10% off these wines, just enter the code 'Art Series'. at checkout. You have to buy any three of the products listed here to get the discount, which expires on Sunday July 25 at midnight.