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Xanadu, Margaret River

Margaret River has been my missing piece of the puzzle since my Australia wine trip last year, which has covered Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Tasmania, Yarra Valley (although we had a masterclass on Margaret River Cabernets at the University of Adelaide instead!)

One year later, thanks to Northeast Wines & Spirits, I finally had a chance to meet a winemaker from Margaret River in Hong Kong and, more importantly, to taste their wine!! Glenn Goodall of Xandau shared with us everything about Margaret River and Xanadu!

Glenn Goodall, Senior Winemaker of Xanadu

Having just celebrated 50 years a few years ago, Margaret River is relatively young in terms of wine history. Still, the region is one of the oldest in the world with ancient soils and unique biodiversity. It is also one of the most maritime-influenced regions in Australia, with ocean winds moderating the warm climate. That was why the agronomist Dr John Gladstones identified this region in 1965 as a potential wine region comparable to Pomerol and St-Emilion in Bordeaux.

As such, in the past 50 years or so, Margaret River has been cultivated with a primary focus on the red and white Bordeaux grape varieties and has gained a reputation for producing powerful yet elegant wines with standout Cabernet blends, and Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends. Apart from Bordeaux varieties, Margaret River has also set examples for premium creamy and complex Chardonnays. Nowadays, the region produces around 20% of Australia’s premium wine from only 3% of Australia’s total grape crush.

Xanadu’s first vines were planted in 1977 by Dr John Lagan, amongst the winery pioneers in the Margaret River wine region. It has been under the ownership of the Rathbone family since 2005. Joining Xanadu in late 1999, Glenn considers his role is often more about being the custodian of the vineyards, and what the individual sites have to offer. His philosophy is to guide the wines through to the bottle, rather than ‘beating them into submission’. The winemaking has undergone fine-tuning with selective French oak and natural fermentation playing a vital role in the Xanadu wine styles.

Now, Xanadu produces a wide range of wines from Bordeaux red and white varieties and also Chardonnay and Shiraz. Its signatures are the award-winning Reserve Chardonnay and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

At the tasting, I was impressed by Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2017.

The Chardonnay grapes are all Gin Gin clone, which naturally has more phenolics characters than the French clones. Planted in 1991, they grow out with very small bunches meaning very concentrated juice. Whole-bunch pressed. Nine months’ ageing in 35% new oak. No malolactic fermentation to avoid producing too rich a wine style. So, it is certainly not opulent on the palate; there are just enough fruit and a lovely saline and oyster-shell character on the finish. It’s a worthy example of Margaret River creamy delicacy derived from lees stirring and light grapefruit raciness.

For the reds, I would go for Xanadu Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Petit Verdot and Malbec, aged 14 months in French oak, of which 50% new.

Dark crimson. Warm, ripe with a hint of warm bricks. The Houghton clone Cabernet explains for the intense dark blue forest fruit and mulberry character, which almost covers the fine tannins. Damsons but not overripe. Rich and powerful but still fresh. Long and a hint of leafiness to add freshness.

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