Establishing yourself is exponentially more difficult as a new producer these days compared to a decade or more ago.
There are more than 2500 wine producers in the country now compared to just a few hundred at the start of the century.
Merely letting the wines do the talking may not be enough to get up and running in a market that is so saturated, building connections and a track record elsewhere is one way to go about it, and plenty of winemakers have established themselves by heading up larger wineries and elevating those wines before launching themselves on to the market with the tailwind of good press and great wine.
Stephen Pannell at Hardys, John Duval at Penfolds are just a couple of the many to have done so successfully, whilst over in the West Julian Langworthy is in the midst of doing so at the moment, with great success.
Julian grew up in the Margaret River area where his father worked on vineyard pest research, particularly fortunate for someone who became so enamoured with Cabernet Sauvignon to have such a long period getting a feel for the place.
Following winemaking stints around the globe, including at Australian Cabernet stalwart Wynns under Sue Hodder, Julian took on the top winemaking job at Deep Woods in the Yalingup sub-region of Margaret River.
At the helm of Deep Woods he has picked up a swag of gold medals for the wines, over 50 in the first few years along with the Halliday Cabernet Sauvignon of the year twice, the famous Jimmy Watson trophy and the personal gong of being named Halliday winemaker of the year in 2019.
In the meantime he began establishing his own label with wife Alana, also based in the Yallingup sub-region where their Sheoak vineyard is planted. Margaret River is a blessed part of the wine world – imbued with a Mediterranean climate which sees conditions that are amazingly consistent, rarely getting too hot in part due to the cooling sea breezes that blow in during the afternoons, but never dipping too low over the long growing season.
The mild conditions and breezes also keep disease pressure at bay in most seasons which would be a dream for those in Bordeaux which is equally ideal for Cabernet although the humid conditions see much more disease pressure.
It means you can produce Cabernet that is mid-weight but with gloriously textured tannin and ripe fruits without the kick of higher alcohol that often accompany such qualities from other regions.
Nocturne SR Cabernets 2019 – $37
Blackcurrant, black berry and blueberries that are beautifully ripe and generous in the mouth with the subtle hint of regional eucalypt, tobacco, cocoa and spice all adding complexity and character across the palate.
The tannins are firm and have density to them, but they are so well integrated into the wine that it is as glorious to drink now as it will be in a few years’ time with some bottle age.
Above all else it is a wine that resonates so quickly and easily from a region that you would think it is hard to shine through, this wine and this producer so clearly are.