The Wild, Wild West


No, not the American West, I’m talking the Australian West in many ways maybe even rougher and tougher than the old West.

Western Australia covers just about one third of the continent of Australia. It is a huge expanse of mostly very dry sandy dunes covers about 4/5ths of the state except for the northern tropical region.

All this seems like it would make this region a poor place to grow wine grapes, but, along the coast the conditions seem to be just about perfect for this.  The area around Margaret River seems to have many of the most famous wineries and I think some of the older wineries.  Wineries were really not that prevalent until the 1970’s and 80’s.  We have several wineries represented in our line-up.

An old favorite of many and one of the “giants” of Western Australia is Leeuwin.  In 1972 none other than Robert Mondavi helped search for and identify the future site that would become Leeuwin. Leeuwin has become one of the greats not just in Western Australia but in all of Australia.  They really hit the world stage when in 1980 Decanter Magazine gave Leeuwin its highest recommendation to the 1980 “Art Series” Chardonnay in an international blind tasting.  Leeuwin also makes excellent reds, Cab, Shiraz and a very nice Cab/Merlot blend.

One of my new favorites is called Xanadu, and no, Olivia Newton John is not part of the package for this one.  But they do make some really great wines.  Named after a line of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem Kubla Khan, the first plantings were in 1977.  In 2005 The Rathbone Family (of Yering Station Wines) bought the place and started focusing on Quality after a few uneven years or corporate ownership.  The wines coming from Xanadu now are excellent.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied yet carries its weight with ease, it has lots of nice layers of mocha, earthiness, dark fruits and a nice spine of tannin.

Another spectacular winery is Hay Shed Hill, first planted in 1973.  Micheal Kerrigan, the chief winemaker, formerly of Howard Park, is making really wonderful wines here.

Though they make a number of great wines, I really like there Cabernet.  The Cab leads off with a wiff of dark berries, cocoa and a hint of mint.  The palate picks up on this and turns it up to 11!  Really fine Cab here!

Please do not be afraid to try something that might be new to you.  These are all world class wines that are much more apart of the Aussie wine scene than some of those over the top Monster wines that have become all to familiar to the American public.  So, try a few of these and let me know what you think.

Western Australia Wines we carry at Amazing Grapes;

  • Xanadu
  • West Cape Howe
  • Leeuwin
  • Hay Shed Hill

Jeffrey Hall

Aussie Wine Buyer, Amazing Grapes