By Fergal Gleeson
Cape Mentelle is one of the founding wineries of Margaret River and one of the highest regarded. So much so that it was acquired by the global LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) group.
This gives Cape Mentelle access to expertise, investment as well as international markets. Cape Mentelle exports more than half it’s wine internationally while the regional average is 15%.
Cameron Murphy, Estate Director at Cape Mentelle tells me that because of the international connection, vintage is different at Cape Mentelle from many other wineries in the region.
“We bring fifteen highly talented young people from around the world to Cape Mentelle each vintage,” says Cameron. “The come from California, France, Spain, Portugal and South America from the top wine schools.
They are doing two vintages a year. After induction in January to all things Cape Mentelle vintage begins in late January.”
Despite the global resources sometimes it’s all hands on deck at vintage time.
“We have 23 full time staff at Cape Mentelle,” says Cameron. “Sometimes all the office and cellar door staff are in the vineyard. Every vintage throws up something different. The Semillon and Sauvignon is machine harvested first and everything after that is hand harvested.”
“The fruit goes into small 6.5 kilo baskets when it’s brought to the winery for berry sorting. We have an ethos of exploration and our Winemaker Frederique Perrin assesses every vintage and looks at what the opportunity is to make something exceptional.”
For example the choice of varietals in the Wallcliffe Red changes from year to year to reflect the strongest performers in that vintage. One year it’s a Cabernet/Cabernet Franc blend. Next vintage it’s Merlot/Petit Verdot.
What are the wines to look out for?
“Cape Mentelle had the highest scoring Shiraz and Semillon in Western Australia from the 2018 Halliday Companion,” says Cameron. “Exciting new releases include a Cabernet Franc and a straight Grenache wine.”
For value hunters I’d call out Trinders 2015, a delicious Cabernet Merlot blend that punches well above it’s weight. Cameron mentioned that he has just finished off his stash of Trinders from the early 2000’s.
As he puts it “Great Cabernet is great Cabernet. It’s not determined by the bottle price!”
Each November sees the release of the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon to coincide with Cape Mentelle’s ‘International Cabernet Challenge’. The Challenge benchmarks premium Margaret River Cabernet with Cabernets from Bordeaux, Napa and elsewhere which is followed by a gourmet lunch.
‘Movies at Cape Mentelle’, runs from December 15th – April 2nd. It’s a night where you can grab a bean bag, a nice bottle of wine and enjoy a movie under the stars on the grounds of the Estate.
From the summer issue of Your Margaret River Region Magazine