Meet your Maker- Cape Mentelle Part 2

By Fergal Gleeson

Today I feature the second part of my interview with Cameron Murphy, Estate Director at Cape Mentelle, one of Margaret River’s founding wineries. Cape Mentelle have got big plans for the future.

Cape Mentelle Cab and Carafe

What do you still want to achieve at Cape Mentelle?

CM: As we approach our 50th anniversary I feel like we are only scratching the surface. When our French bosses, the Bordelaise royalty visit they congratulate us on our 50 years and joke that the first 200 years are hard but it gets easier after that!

We are committed to making Australia’s best cabernet. We’re using micro selection of the best fruit in the vineyard. We’ve got some top end graduates from Bordeaux on an exchange program who are systematically mapping the vineyard, taking soil samples right down to block and individual wine level.

We are now using smaller tanks so that we can separate the best fruit from the best blocks. We’re also trialling some new Cabernet clones.

We are investing in research into new varieties which we offer at our cellar door. We are particularly excited about some new Malbec clones which we are sourcing from Moet Hennessy’s Terrazas de Los Andes in Mendoza, Argentina. We think Malbec has got great potential in Margaret River on its own or blended with Cabernet.

Margaret River is still undervalued. As a region we export about 12% of our wine compared to Barossa which exports 55%. We’ve still got to tell the story internationally of what Margaret River can do.

Cape Mentelle Red Grapes in bucket

Where to from here for the Margaret River region?

CM: Margaret River has got an amazing coastline with beaches, restaurants and wineries to have some great wine experiences. There’ll be more luxury tourism in future. Direct flights to Busselton airport from Sydney and Melbourne will make a huge difference to the region.

Cape Mentelle Movie Night. Photo courtesy of The Margaret River Discovery CoWhat can someone expect at the Cellar Door?

CM: You can taste the full range of wines including the premium wines at no charge. We also offer two tours. There’s a “Behinds the Scenes Tour” of the original vineyards and winery and for those who want to really immerse themselves we offer a two hour “Food and Wine Pairing Experience” for $85.

We also offer a Movie Season over the Summer months with bean beds and blankets. We’ve got Food Vans if you’re hungry. The movie season attracts about ten to twelve thousand people every year.

We run an International Cabernet tasting every November showcasing 20 of the best Cabernets from around the world with guest speakers such as Jancis Robinson and James Halliday.

Two to Try:

Cape Mentelle Walcliffe Cabernet and Cabernet Franc

This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc from the original 1970 vines. Cameron says “The 55% Cabernet provides the classic Margaret River backbone, structure and length. The 38% Franc provides the seductive, pretty floral characters. This assemblage is not uncommon in Bordeaux but unusual here.”

Given Cape Mentelle’s owners (LVMH) and Chief Winemaker are French, they can’t resist a few Gallic touches. It’s a faultless wine- medium bodied with dark fruits and spices. Urbane from initial taste right through to the smooth tannins on the finish.

RRP $49         Rating: 4 stars

Cape Mentelle Shiraz 2014

In keeping with the Cape Mentelle style- another silky smooth customer but there are also hints of herbs, leather and a certain earthiness to be found amongst the black fruit flavour.

Shiraz is over shadowed by Cabernet and Cabernet blends in the region but Shiraz like this and examples by Deep Woods and Clairault’s Syrah show that Margaret River Shiraz can be outstanding.

RRP $46         Rating: 4 stars

This is a modified excerpt from an article, which appeared in the June/July edition of PRIMOLife Magazine. For more Wine Reviews read and follow  Drink and be merry!

*Finalist- New Wine Writer of the Year 2016- WCA /Gourmet Traveller WINE



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