By Bruce Cochran
Finally back from Italy, a little tired, a little late, but here. We’ll look at a great wine region this week, far away in miles, but familiar in style.
“Here Comes the Judge…Serving and Being Served.” I’ll have a busy few weeks coming up, serving as a judge at Missouri’s “Show Me State Championship Barbecue Cookoff” in a couple of weeks, a Memphis Barbecue Network sanctioned event, and shortly thereafter I’ll attend an Arkansas State Fair Wine Competition committee meeting to discuss a new scholarship program. Who says I don’t work hard?
Try a new wine this week!
Leeuwin Estate Wines
Western Australia is more than just a region; it’s the name of a state. The Margaret River district in the southwestern part of Western Australia, is the state’s most important wine region. It borders the ocean, with beaches and the resulting controlled environment, and has forests and farmland farther inland.
The district has its own microclimate, with oceans on three sides changing water temperature by only a few degrees between summer and winter. The daily maximum and minimum temperatures during the growing season are very similar to those of Bordeaux, France.
Leeuwin Estate, less than four miles from the ocean, is one of the founding wineries of the Margaret River district. It was established in 1972 with the help of Robert Mondavi, in a search for the best place in the area to plant wine grapes. It was, at the time, a cattle farm. Mondavi also served as a consultant for some years afterward.
They began with a nursery in 1974, and prepared the vineyards with the laborious techniques of deep plowing, “ripping” up stone substrata for drainage, and planting vines by hand for five years. This is what great wineries do.
Rainfall in the Margaret River District is affected by winds from what is known as the “Roaring 40’s” a name given to the latitudes between 40° and 50°, because of the strong prevailing westerly winds, as there is less landmass to slow them down, the winds are especially strong on the Southern Hemisphere. Leeuwin Estate plants trees to alleviate vineyard problems from these strong winds.
To reduce bird damage to grapes, especially from parrots, the growers plant a range of food alternatives, such as large plots of sunflowers.
Leeuwin Estate’s wines have long been recognized as among the best in Australia and the world. So, this week’s recommendation for a locally available Western Australia wine is, of course, from Leeuwin Estate. We very much enjoyed their “Siblings Shiraz” at the June E-Wine samplings. It retails for around $20.