By Fergal Gleeson*
Deep Woods Estate is a winery whose time has come. They have graduated in the last 5 years from a very good winery to now being one of the top wineries in the region. The cascade of trophies and gold medals have been the staging posts, culminating in wins for Deep Woods in the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge 2014 and the Jimmy Watson Trophy 2016 for their Reserve Cabernet. These are two of Australia’s most prestigious awards. The range of wines and overall production has grown with the critical acclaim.
“We’ve had an amazing run which I’d like to keep going, redefining our cabernet and chardonnay,” says Chief Winemaker, Julian Langworthy.
“I’ve been here 6 years but it feels like I’ve just started. The journey so far has been an amazing success for a new brand. We’ve been admitted to the dress circle of Margaret River. We’d now like to get to the pinnacle of it!”
Julian Langworthy jokingly attributes the success to his “good looks and nepotism”! He is a Margaret River local and his exposure to wine started early.
“My dad worked in pest research, specifically how to stop birds eating the fruit in Margaret River. I remember as a child hanging around Cullen’s winery. Dad’s work involved high tech stuff like hanging nets! I reckon we were pretty solid hippies! At Uni I did Marine Biology but I played more football and drank. I decided it would be fairer on the fishes if I studied winemaking in Adelaide. After which I worked in France, Canada, Wynns Coonawarra, Knappstein Clare Valley before finishing up at Deep Wood back in Margaret River.”
Julian’s wine making philosophy is all about flexibility. “It’s how I feel that day. You should never be too rigid. You must respond to different conditions. That might drive some of my people crazy! The larger wineries find it hard not be formulaic but I’m more finger in the wind and sporadic. It’s about being passionate to make something interesting and contemporary. I’m deeply biased of course but Margaret River is really idyllic for winemaking. When you have the right vineyard what happens in the winery is easy.”
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet 2014
A quick sniff and you know this is the real deal. Julian describes this as “contemporary, supple and juicy, powerful by Margaret River standards”.
In the mouth there’s an explosion of dark fruit, spices and all manner of complexity with a dense and inky texture. This is dark and full bodied for Margaret River. The tannin and fruit step in and out but with a refreshing acid for a long clean finish. This wine is moreish with enough fruit to be accessible but all the nuance you could ask for. RRP $60. Rating 4/5.
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Block 7 Shiraz 2014
The Margaret River Wine Region was invented to produce cabernet but this profound Shiraz shows that the region has got versatility. You’d be thrilled if you opened a Shiraz of this quality from the Barossa, Yarra or the Hunter. This uses the dark side of the force. It has powerful black fruit and finishes with a refreshing twist. “Wild Thing” by the Troggs played in my mind! An awesome wine. RRP $45. Rating 4/5.
Deep Woods Estate Cabernet Merlot 2014
Julian particularly recommends their Cabernet Merlot which is age worthy and on a par with the Reserve range but more modestly priced. “I always buy a few cases of this for myself.” He is right. This has a lovely floral nose and a nice range of flavour – fruit and smoke. It’s pure, clean fruit in a soft tannin net. As far as Margaret River is concerned, Cabernet Merlot blends are often where the real value is. They may lack a fraction of the intensity of the flagship wines but the margins are fine. RRP: $35. Rating 3.5 /5
Deep Woods Estate Shiraz et al 2014
Shiraz is the main event but small amounts of Malbec and Grenache are added to compliment. By comparison with the Block 7, the nose has a lighter profile courtesy of the Grenache. It is medium weight, with some spice and a real emphasis on drinkability. This wine has won lots of gold but I would spend the extra $25 for the Reserve Block 7. RRP $20. Rating 3/5.
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*Finalist- New Wine Writer of the Year 2016- WCA /Gourmet Traveller WINE