Margaret River's unique flavours
The Sunday Times, 17 September 2017 – Hedy Khoo
Mediterranean-like climate and soil contribute to the special qualities of the region’s wines
Every dog has its day and Redbrook, a vineyard named after one of its founders’ pet dachshund, is now leading the wine-making pack in the Margaret River wine region.
The vineyard was founded by John Evans and John Tate in 1974, when Margaret River’s wine industry was still in its infancy.
Today, as the region celebrates 50 years of wine production, Redbrook is one of the oldest and most prestigious vineyards there, with a track record of producing internationally acclaimed wines.
The winery Evans & Tate, named after its founders, is one of the region’s largest, producing three million bottles annually.
Award-winning vintages from Redbrook are now available for order on the ST Wine online site.
The selected wines are rated JH 94 and above by wine critic James Halliday, who also gave the winery the maximum five stars.
Evans & Tate’s senior winemaker Matthew Byrne, 42, who has been based in Margaret River for the last 17 years, says: “The wines produced in this region bear unique characteristics which set them apart from wines made from the same variety of grapes cultivated elsewhere, even in wine regions within Australia.”
Located in the far south-west corner of Western Australia, the region’s success is largely credited to its Mediterranean-like climate and soil which are similar to Bordeaux’s in a dry year.
Redbrook, situated 4km inland from the western coastline, enjoys the best of the region’s geographical advantage.
Winds from the Indian Ocean moderate the dry heat of summer and winds from Antarctica bring rainfall in winter, providing prime conditions for grape cultivation.
The well-draining gravelly soil, which helps retain heat in the rainy winter months of June, July and August, is ideal for vine growth.
The Redbrook Cabernet Sauvignon was a triple trophy winner in the International Wine Competition in 2013 and the Redbrook Shiraz is the first Western Australian red wine to be named the Best Red Wine at the 17th Annual International Wine Challenge in London in 2000.
Mr Byrne says the winery employs simple wine-making techniques to let the fruit speak for itself with little intervention.
During the harvest season from early February to the first week of May, the winery is in operation 24 hours daily.
For the Shiraz, 40 workers go through the painstaking process of picking whole bunches by hand.
With old vines dating back to 1975, extra care is required to not damage the plants. The harvested grapes, including the stalks and seeds, go into fermentation vats for two weeks.
Mr Byrne says the unique qualities of Evans & Tate wines are the floral perfume on the nose and lingering flavours in the mouth. To match the cosmopolitan flavours of Margaret River’s gourmet scene, the wines are also versatile enough to pair with food from different cultures, including Asian cuisine.
“Our Shiraz is savoury, plummy and a deep ruby red, not black. It is bright and vibrant, not spicy or woody as what you would usually expect of a Shiraz,” he says.
Pair it with food braised in soya sauce, black or white pepper crab or duck rice.
The Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is a good choice for those wishing to add to their collection or to buy as a gift.
“The Cabernet Sauvignon of 2012 is an extraordinary vintage as temperatures during the ripening season were more consistent from December 2011 to March 2012. It has a violet lift that is rare to find in Cabernet Sauvignons, only in the best,” says Mr Byrne.
The wine goes well with gelatinous meat dishes such as roast pork or chicken rice.
His favourite is the Chardonnay as it is a challenging wine to perfect.
He says: “The Chardonnay is a fussy grape that is almost like a lie detector. Any mistake made during the wine-making process and the fault will show up in the wine.”
Properly stored, it can keep until 2032. Pair it with dishes such as laksa, mee siam or seafood tom yum soup. The wine pairs especially well with prawn and scallop.
Get all three featured wines from Evans & Tate’s Redbrook range at a special package price of $198 nett at stwine.sg/events-promotions
For inquiries, e-mail STWine@sph.com.sg or call 6319-5076 during office hours.