By Fergal Gleeson
What wine lover doesn’t dream of owning their own vineyard? Looking out on your very own rows of vines excitedly waiting for vintage. Making wines to your philosophy and style. Cracking open a bottle with your own label to share with friends.
For most it’s a pipe dream. For wine lovers Barry and Wendy Stimpson it’s called Passel Estate.
These globetrotting and wine loving lawyers met in London but were living in Singapore when they first discovered Margaret River. After building their first home in the region, they fell in love with the beauty of the Edwards vineyard that became available for sale.
As Wendy puts it “the sheer beauty of the property was magical. We fell in love with this piece of land and bought the vineyard!” In 2014 they worked closely with Winemaker Bruce Dukes and Viticulturist Andy Ferreira to make Passel Estate a reality.
They went in “feet first” as Wendy puts it, building a Cellar Door and releasing their first wines a Chardonnay, a Shiraz and a Cabernet at the same time.
The Cellar Door was designed to create an immersive experience of the place and the wine. It’s built with granite and timber from the property. Three sided walls of glass look across the dam to the vines.
They also do something clever but unusual at the Cellar Door. They offer a wine tasting where you can taste wines from other Australian regions alongside Passel’s three wines to show the effect that terroir has on what ends up in your glass. How is Coonawarra Cabernet different to Margaret River for example?
They were understandably nervous on releasing their first wines. Wendy feels ”It’s a bit like writing a poem or piece of music. It’s very personal”. Turns out they needn’t have worried.
All three wines picked up medals at the Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show 2016. They’ve subsequently garnered more medals and very high points from the all-important Mr H. in his latest Wine Companion.
Later this year, Passel release a Sauvignon Blanc. Next year will see the release of a Reserve Cabernet and there will be a Reserve Shiraz. But their plans are to remain true to producing small quantities of the most beautiful wine they can from the estate.
Wendy also plans to increase their strong conservation efforts, using the estate as a sanctuary for endangered native animals.
Wendy didn’t put it that way but for a couple of wine lovers they are living the dream.
THE PASSEL ESTATE RANGE
Passel Estate Chardonnay 2015
What a pretty label these wines have! The grapefruit is immediately apparent on the nose and it follows through on tasting- zesty citrus, nuttiness and a subtle toastiness from the oak. Clean as a whistle with a really refreshing after taste. Margaret River Chardonnay is one of the greatest pleasures of Australian wine. This is a fine example.
RRP $32 Rating 3.5 stars
Passel Estate Shiraz 2015
There is nothing frivolous or commercial about the Passel reds. They are built in a structured style, the quality apparent. The Shiraz is dense and thick, tasting of dark plums, spice and dusty tannins. Because I liked it I returned to it on the second night when it was even better.
Wendy mentioned that French wines were an inspiration for what they wanted to make at Passel. Bullseye – the Northern Rhone influence was clear on the revisit. Will benefit from a decant if you’re having it now and will get better with some more time in bottle. Highly age worthy.
RRP $36 Rating 3 stars
Passel Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Made in a medium bodied style featuring pretty blackcurrant fruit with fine tannin veins running through it. I also picked up some appealing black olive and tapenade characters. Brought to mind good Bordeaux cru bourgeois in style and flavour.
Gold medallist at the Margaret River Wine Show. Based on the quality of the range and the focus of the owners, expect to hear a lot more about Passel Estate in years to come.
RRP $45 Rating 3.5 stars
For more information on Passel Estate visit www.passelestate.com
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