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Tuesday 7 May 2024

Shades of Bordeaux from Margaret River

Margaret River has often been described as "the Bordeaux of Australia".

The region has a reputation for its cabernets, as well as Bordeaux-style blends.

Much like Bordeaux, Margaret River's Mediterranean climate has strong maritime influences from the confluence of the Indian and Southern Oceans. There are also similarities between gravelly soils an limited vigour.

As in Bordeaux, cabernet franc and petit verdot generally play minor roles as components of a Margaret River blend, but winemaker Michael Kerrigan gives both those varieties a chance to shine in their own right as part of the Hay Shed Hill bock series, wines made from the estate vineyard in Wilyabrup.

The 2022 Hay Shed Hill Block 8 Cabernet Franc and 2022 Hay Shed Hill Block 10 Petit Verdot both retail for $45 is purchased direct online.

"It is a thrill to work with blocks of fruit that express their terroir," says Kerrigan. "These wines represent the best of Hay Shed Hill.

"The blocks themselves have specific characteristics of aspect and slope that make them distinctive"

Both wines are made in tiny quantities and I preferred the cabernet franc with food (a rabbit stew) and the peitit verdot without food. Which is strangely counter intuitive. 

The fragrant cabernet franc is medium-bodied and has lot of length (think varietal intensity and terrific tannin structure), while the petit verdot is released as a varietal only in years with long, mild March and April temperatures, enabling the late-ripening variety to mature. The 2022 has distinctive violet/pepper aromas and brisk acidity. There are dark berry and currant notes to the fore and a rich, supple finish. 

A fascinating exercise to compare the pair.


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