Margaret River – an upcoming Australian wine region
Written by Jeremy of NomadicGrape
The stunning region of Margaret River!
Ah, that anticipation of arriving in Margaret River for the first time. Just amazing, such a beautiful memory! Oh Margaret River, how I love you!
Margs, like the locals call it, is in the south-western tip of Western Australia and is roughly 3 hours’ drive from Perth. The region is surrounded by the Indian ocean and the Southern Ocean on 3 sides and lies in between Cape Naturaliste in the north and Cape Leeuwin in the south. Margaret River the town sits in the middle of this 100 km stretch of coast, beaches, forest, caves and vineyards, all of which give the region a diverse mix of fun activities to keep you busy and beautiful spots to take your breath away. Maybe due to its vast amounts of natural beauty or due to its isolation to the rest of the world, the locals are mostly very relaxed (even for Australian standards) and very nice and welcoming, which give the place an additional charm.
When driving through the area you’ll notice an abundance of wildlife here! Kangaroos and Emus are just chilling or hopping in the fields, birds will be chirping at all hours of the day and you’ll be transfixed the first time you hear the monkey-like laughter of the Kookaburra. But it’s the ocean that really impresses here. During the months of June to November you can go whale watching as they pass the Cape’s on their migratory journey to the Indian Ocean. Then from the beaches or cliff tops you can see dolphins, sharks and loads of other fishes living their daily lives and when visiting Hamelin Bay you often encounter massive stingrays who lazily swim along the shore.
Surfing in Margaret river
Furthermore Margs is one of the surf meccas of Australia, the surf is world class! Every year you’ll have the Margaret River Pro event being held and you know its world class as its part of World Surf League. I cannot count the amount of surfers I met who came from around the world and Australia to surf in these regions and beaches. The waves are immense and the surf is on all year!
Therefore the region with its drop-dead gorgeous natural beauty, its friendly locals, to its excellent quality of wine and many cellar doors, make Margs a world-class tourist destination, and a must visit when in Western Australia.
The wine region
Having lived and worked in Margs during the pruning and picking season of 2019 I had the opportunity to visit many cellar doors, taste a variety of delicious wines and have many interesting conversations with people whom work in the industry. With over 90 cellar doors, the region is blessed with many five-star rated wineries and spoiled for choice with scenic estates that provide you with high-quality food and wine options.
Margaret River as a wine region is a young region. The first pioneers only started growing vines in the 1960’s and 1970’s. However even with its young history the locals and the Australian wine industry likes to compare the region to Bordeaux, given its maritime location and gravelly soils. Therefore the wineries focus on growing Bordeaux varietals and have gained a worldwide reputation for its quality wines.
Red wines of Margaret river
The regions reputation is built on the Wilyabrup Valley, where hours of sunshine has made concentrated, flavoursome and refined Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines tend to be medium bodied, very perfumed and elegant in style, with fine tannins and crisp acidity. Pure elegance on the palate and the wines are suited to long term cellaring.
Most producers will make single variety or blended wines from: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Additionally as the region is in Australia it also producers some excellent Shiraz, with the wines stylistically being between a Barossa Valley fruit bomb and a refined northern-Rhone peppery syrah.
Producers to watch out for are: Cullen, Woodlands, Vasse Felix, Cape Mentelle, and Moss Wood.
White wines of Margaret river
The white wines are dominated by either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon blends. The region is famous for its world-class Chardonnay. Wines here are concentrated yet refined, with a high degree of complexity from winemaking. You’ll find wines with stone and tropical fruit flavours layered with oak and lees characteristics. A real bombshell in your mouth!
The Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon wines have a distinct, vibrant grass-like characteristics with concentrated tropical fruit flavours that make for a great aperitive wine.
Producers to watch out for are: Cullen, Piero, Leeuwin Estate, Voyager Estate, Xanadu, and Suckfizzle.
Margaret River is not a region to miss. The wines are world class and the wineries keep consistently making quality wines. As the region ages, the wineries and producers keep expanding its knowledge about its own terroir and which grapes to grow, only increasing the quality of the wines. Finally as Australians regulations are lax about which varieties you can grow, there is an abundance of choice in wines so you can always find a wine that will suit you.
If I could live in any vineyard in the world, it would have to be Margaret River. Want to know more about Australian wines? Read this article about Tasmania!