Margaret River, Western Australia
Kate Morgan has been the senior winemaker at Fraser Gallup in the Margaret River for the past 5 years. Prior to this she did a number of vintages in WA and other regions around Australia, as well as vintages in Oregon and Portugal. As we have already pointed out, she did a vintage at Quinta Noval, however we had chosen this wine long before we discovered this little quirk of fate. Kate’s employers have kindly allowed her to branch out so to speak fulfilling her dream to make her own wine under her own label. This dream started in 2010 focusing on two wines, a white and red, and it is the white wine that Dan has chosen. A Chenin Blanc is a bit of a rarity in Australia, with most plantings found in WA, where it is used as a component of the larger white wine blends (The Classic Dry Whites that are the bread and butter of the wineries over in the West).
However Kate was never going to make something so mundane. Firstly she chose an ideal site, and a vineyard she has had her eye on ever since coming to Margaret River. It is a vineyard in the Wallcliffe subregion that is now over 30 years old (very mature by the timeline of this relatively new area) The fruit was handpicked and then whole bunch pressed to extract the finest juices without the added phenolics you can get from extended skin and juice contact.
Kate is all about minimal handling with the juice gravity fed into older oak barrels where it was allowed to ferment using wild yeasts. After 10 months in barrel the wine was blended and bottled. This is pretty serious winemaking that despite being very minimal, requires great focus and judgement- deciding on “what not to do” is often more important than “what to do”.
Now to the wine! I can safely say this is one of my favourite white wines of the year. It has a definite acidity running through the palate giving it plenty of structure, which is balanced with sensational fruit flavours and elegance. Lemon curd is prominent on the nose combined with honeysuckle and pear following onto the palate. Try not to drink this wine too cold, and the toasty oak will become an added feature, however the use of older oak means it only supports the flavours and never dominates.
This wine is in the zone right now. However this is a white wine that you could cellar. I believe it could easily handle another 2-3 years, at which time I think the oak would become a little more prominent. I however will be drinking my case over the next 3-4 months. Perfect over summer
Simply prepared seafood dishes and salads are the obvious choice for this wine. It is also big enough to handle poultry and pork dishes. However I like to drink it by itself on a nice summer evening with a little bit of soft cheese.