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Margaret River winemakers tip 2020 as best yet

With Chardonnay grapes picked a month ahead of schedule, winemakers predict the 2020 vintage will be this premium Australian region’s greatest on record.

‘It’s going to be an epic vintage,’ declares Deep Woods Estate winemaker Julian Langworthy, whose 2016 and 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons and 2017 Reserve Chardonnay have achieved iconic status for their swag of awards.

‘Warm, dry conditions in November have resulted in the perfect storm of a very early, very fast vintage,’ says Langworthy. ‘Yields are low which won’t make the accountants happy, but the winemakers are celebrating as the fruit looks amazing.’

‘This is my earliest vintage in the 41 years I’ve been in the region,’ says Pierro winemaker Dr Mike Peterkin. ‘I’m highly optimistic about 2020, backed by the knowledge that early vintages usually give us very high-quality wines.’

Flametree winemaker and general manager Cliff Royle concurs: ‘The fruit quality is excellent, showing great flavour, concentration and acid line.’

‘’We’ve never looked better as a Chardonnay region,’ enthuses Vasse Felix winemaker Virginia Willcock. ‘And the low yields will only contribute to the rare and special nature of our Margaret River Chardonnay.’

Grape-growing nirvana

The region’s exceptional run of consistently idyllic vintages is now in its 15th year, with many attributing its proximity to the ocean as a significant influence.

Langworthy explains: ‘The vineyards are shielded from extremes by the Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and Geographe Bay, which results in an even heat accumulation throughout the growing season. It really is grape-growing nirvana.’

Royle adds that the maritime influence also helps with soil quality and high winter rainfall, resulting in wines with great acidity, structure and perfume.

While he says the 2020 Chardonnays should one of the best-ever warm vintages for the region, it is the quality of the Cabernets that everyone is talking about.

‘Early heat vintages like this set the scene for us to make some truly great, long-lived Cabernets, and the 2020 Cabernets has the potential to be amazing – even better than 2018, if that’s possible,’ he says.

According to Voyager Estate’s Steve James ‘vintage doesn’t get much better than this – all the signs are pointing to a potentially great Cabernet year: exceptional evenness, moderate yields and loose bunches with small berries.’

Langworthy adds: ‘2020 reminds me of 2014, which was a superb Cabernet vintage. There’s a lot of the season to go before we start picking, but I’m optimistic this will be our greatest Cabernet vintage on record.’

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Tom Cullity Wine Trail: A Margaret River guide

Western Australian Chardonnay panel tasting results


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