Wine Hunter

From the Cellar: Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2010

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2010

If you’ve never been to Margaret River, add it to your plans immediately.

There is something very special about Margaret River. From the moment you step out of your car you feel the charm. It’s hard to point to a single character that encompasses the uniqueness of the region; instead it is a combination of its isolation, ‘chilled’ surfing culture, sheer beauty of the landscape and the defining quality of wines. These all work together to make ‘Margs’ a one of a kind wine region.

I was fortunate to have Cape Mentelle as a sister winery while I was working at Chandon and was fortunate enough to visit on many occasions. The French luxury goods company, LVMH, purchased Cape Mentelle and New Zealand’s Cloudy back in the late 90s, however, Cape Mentelle pedigree started decades prior. Cape Mentelle is one of the founding vineyards of the region, and also home of one of the oldest wineries. It came roaring into the spotlight when it won the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy two years running in 1983 and 1984.

The wins secured the winery a place on the map, and did a lot to put Margaret River into the minds of the bigger East coast wine lovers.

Hohnen brothers, 1970. Image: capementelle.com.au

David Hohnen and his brothers Mark and Giles set up the winery in the 70s and really pioneered the region of Margaret River before making the transition to the New Zealand wine scene to set up Cloudy Bay in 1985. It was almost an unimaginable place to set-up a vineyard, but David was convinced of its potential, and much like he did in WA, David established of the finest drop and is part of the reason New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s favourite it is today.

This Cape Mentelle Chardonnay is a wonderful example of how far Australian Chardonnays have travelled stylistically over the last 15 years. Aussie Chardonnay was big in the late 90s; think buttery and oaky, a style that was hugely popular at the time, but quickly lost its way as people started to seek out fresher alternatives.

Chardonnay from Margaret River has an ability to bridge the gap between the riper flavours of fig and peach while standing almost taut with fresh and zesty lime acidity.

This particular bottle from my cellar, a six year old, was still super bright and zippy with tons of flavour. Rob Mann, the winemaker back in 2010, was an adept hand at building an undercurrent of complexity with clever use of oak and other winemaking techniques. In this chardonnay, he managed to build a flint-like gun-powdery complexity which meshed perfectly with the fruit and fresh acidity.

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2010. Image: Crackawines

A stunning wine. I shared it with friends over a poached Atlantic salmon with Japanese udon noodles cooked with star anise and rice wine – truly delicious.

I only have one left in the cellar, so I think I will leave it for a couple more years.  

Until next time,
Your Wine Hunter, Jame Gosper.

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