Bills wines show fruit that dance well on the palate and yet rely on good wine making to bring the finished product together. I wondered whether this was a theme worth bringing home -Margaret River wines are very much a product of their place and reflect a relatively cool climate style of wine but cannot exist without a close cooperation between man and his environment.
Bill was not short on comment and agrees when he says that Western Australian wine making , "has become sophisticated and very familiar with the notion of regionality....it needs to as Brand Australia was probably too successful and consumers looked for Australia rather than for specific Australian styles." He reckons that this needs to change quickly as Australia is producing too much wine. "Government sponsored Management Investment Schemes should never have been allowed near the wine trade. They brought in very ill informed people to the trade and now many of the 'Investment Vineyards ' need to be grubbed up (pulled from the ground)".
Bill sees small and family owned operations in WA having it tough but doing a lot better than the 'big guys'. "Breweries and wine don't mix. Fosters will have to get out (of the wine trade)"
As it was pouring rain outside I couldn't resist asking how WA was doing in relation to water! Not too bad was the answer. Clairault has four quite large reservoirs which fill up over the winter and effectively supply them with all of their water needs. In addition they have put a lot of effort into maintaining a healthy and water retentive soil throughout their vineyards. This has entailed a lot of work with composting, very low levels of spraying and minimal irrigation. See lots more on this at www.clairaultwines.com.au It shows in the wines.
So, environmentally friendly grapegrowing, thoughtful winemaking and oh yes, an excellent cellar door restaurant. Over the next few notes I hope to show that these are recurring themes right across the whole of the Australian wine trade. In the meantime Note 2 will give you lots more on The Margaret River where Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and (relatively) cool climate viticulture and wine making really is world class.
A water reservoir at Clairault Wines, Margaret River.
Then I saw my first kangaroo!