Grapevine: Once upon a time in the west
If the national wine show circuit was anything to go by, Margaret River wines and in particular Cabernets would take up a lot more space on our wine lists and shelves in Victoria.
We’re a parochial bunch, though, as they are in the west, so we don’t seek out or reach for wines from Western Australia as much as we could or should, given the consistent quality on offer.
We’re all familiar with the top end, which are some of the country’s finest wines in their own right, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to taste examples at the entry level that show some varietal character, good quality and offer great drinking at their price point.
Xanadu have been working hard for some time now to push the quality of their wines across all ranges. Their top end has been receiving critical acclaim for some time now led by the wines being produced from their Stevens Road vineyard, including their 2011 reserve cabernet being named wine of their year in the Halliday companion along with a 99-point rating. The top end isn’t accessible for everyone, though, and certainly not everyday drinking material.
It’s often said that the top end isn’t as much of an indicator of the quality of a producer – it’s often where no expense is spared. It’s the bottom end, entry level wines where you must decide what can be left out to maintain a price point without sacrificing quality that really shows the talents of a winery. Xanadu’s Exmoor range fills this gap. They take fruit from across the region, paired with their experienced winemaking team to produce a set of wines that offer varietal character, high ‘drinkability’ and excellent value. Here are a few of the standouts:
Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Shiraz 2016 (pictured) – $19
Margaret River Shiraz often sits in the shadow if Cabernet from the region. When done right though, it strikes a lovely mid-point between the cool and warm climate styles from around Australia. It displays slightly fuller body than typical cool climates and riper fruit flavours without becoming overly dense or heavy, whilst retaining a lovely spice and pepper quality (more white pepper in this case) along with quite plush texture thanks to riper tannins that usually avoid the astringency of cool climate styles.
Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019 – $19
Margaret River can reliably lay claim to the best examples of this style in the country. It gets a bad rap for the often poor quality examples often found at the lower end if the price spectrum. This is perfectly pitched for the price as much for what is not there as what is. It avoids being too sweet, herbaceous or sharp, instead it delivers just what you want from an everyday example – Vibrant tropical fruits and citrus, it’s lively and refreshing with a crisp dry finish.
Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $19
The iconic variety of Margaret River in a highly accessible style. Medium to full-bodied at most, fragrant violets and berries lead to mouth-filling flavours of black and blue berries, subtle oak and chocolate. Supple texture helps to make it a great example of Cabernet that doesn’t need cellaring to enjoy.