By Fergal Gleeson
Kate Watson remembers coming down to Margaret River from Perth on school holidays. She was visiting cellar doors with her parents who were wine drinkers.
“I was fascinated by the sights and smells,” she says. “For my year ten school work experience I went to Houghtons in the Swan Valley. I tried some other things after school but I came back to wine.”
After completing her winemaking degree Kate wanted to travel. She spent vintages in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Portugal and Oregon.
“Winemaking is a great way to see the world,” she says “but it cemented for me that Margaret River was where I wanted to make wine.”
The then slightly unfashionable Chenin Blanc varietal was the catalyst for starting Ipso Facto wines.
“I found some Chenin fruit that didn’t have a loving home! This was thirty year old dry grown Chenin. I thought ‘I can do something with that!’” Then Kate bought some Cabernet and Ipso Facto Wines was started.
The first vintage of Ipso Facto was in 2010 and Kate has kept it small with just two wines in the range. She has recently purchased some Great Southern Shiraz fruit which will expand the offering to three wines.
“I make the Chenin Blanc like a Chardonnay,” she says “It’s handpicked, whole bunch pressed and fermented in old barrels for texture. The early wines are still fresh eight years on because Chenin retains great acid. We’re showing that Chenin Blanc is not necessarily a sweet basic wine. It has complexity and can be serious!”
“The Cabernet is more a medium bodied style,” she says “It’s a little lighter than many of the regional Cabernets and is fruit driven but more savoury. It’s approachable and suitable for drinking young.”
Kate has a minimal intervention approach. “Get good fruit and make the best wine that I can that has interest and longevity” is her motto. “When you have good fruit you don’t have to do too much. Wine had a phase where there was more intervention. These new tricks had been developed and winemakers didn’t know what to with them. Now it’s paired back. It’s honour the fruit. It speaks more of a wine’s sense of place.”
Part of the reason that Ipso Facto wines has evolved slowly is that Kate worked a full time job for many years as Assistant Winemaker at Fraser Gallop. Ipso Facto, her side project, involved even earlier mornings during vintage visiting vineyards and the extra administration of running her own business at weekends.
I asked Kate if her wines were geared to a younger hip market but Kate was reluctant to generalise on what young wine drinkers want.
“People want to drink delicious wines,” she says “but I make the wines that I like to drink. I don’t play to the market because fashion trends come and go. I make the wines that I want to make and let people jump on board.”
“I don’t know what my expectations were!” she jokes when asked where she expected Ipso Facto to be. “It’s been great to be recognised through Young Guns (this is her second year being nominated) and to have had good reviews from Wine Front.”
“I’m not terribly responsible,” she laughs. “I take it as it comes!”
More at www.ipsofactowines.com.au
The other Margaret River nominees in the Young Guns of Wine Top 50 2018 were:
Dylan Arvidson – LS Merchants
Dan Stocker – Heretic Wines
Julian Grounds –McHenry Hohnen
Remi Guise – Tripe Iscariot
Julian Langworthy and John Fogarty – Goon Tycoons
This is a modified excerpt from an article that appeared in the spring edition of Your Margaret River Region Magazine