You’d have to seriously have your head buried in the Great Sandy Desert not to realise that Western Australia is a big place. Yet I do think that we underestimate its size.
Hence, for instance, we have a look at a map of the state’s south-west corner and assume that the Margaret River and Great Southern regions are cheek by jowl.
Yet the towns of Margaret River and Great Southern’s Mount Barker are more than a couple of hundred kilometres apart, close to 300 clicks if you’re talking about driving distance.
Increase that by at least 100 kilometres if you’re talking Margaret River and Albany.
We’re not dealing with a hop-step-and-jump.
I suppose that the situation is exacerbated by the fact that seminal researcher John Gladstones tended to talk about both the two areas when he wrote many years ago about where the future of Western Australian winemaking lay.
But the two regions are different, with much of Great Southern in the path of bitterly cold winds from the Antarctic, while Margaret River’s climate is ameliorated by the relatively warm waters of the southern Indian Ocean.
MadFish NV Prosecco ($23): The grape source here is listed as ‘Australia’ so just about anything goes, even though the winery’s vineyards are located in Margaret River and Great Southern. But the packaging, with stainless-steel crown seal, is the way of the future for Australian sparkling wine. What’s in the bottle is simple and refreshing — a great party drink and a fine bubbly with which to wash down some oysters.
Howard Park 2016 Scotsdale Shiraz ($50): The name pays homage to the birthplace of Howard Park in a small winery near the Great Southern coastal town of Denmark. The operation was founded by district pioneer John Wade in the mid-1980s. The cooler-than-normal, rainy vintage test winemaker Janice McDonald but she has produced a lean, flavoursome dry red with considerable class
WINE OF THE WEEK
Howard Park 2016 Leston Shiraz ($50): This dry red hails from Howard Park’s main Margaret River vineyard, whose name celebrates the father and mentor of the operation’s current owner, Jeff Burch. I like this robust dry red a great deal — full-flavoured fruit, excellent balance of acidity, integrated oak and fine, retrained tannins. It’s just the perfect match with a meaty wintery stew, or one dominated by earthy mushrooms.
Written by John Rozentals
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