Home' Scoop : Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Contents 198 scoop SPRING 2010
price points, and jaw-droppingly exciting new
releases, like the 2007 The Scholar cabernet
sauvignon, prove it can hold its own in the
premium wine stakes. More than that, it provides a
contract bottling ser vice to producers in the region
and the estate is also home to a picturesque, o’er the
vines restaurant. Chef Josh Foster’s food is some
of the finest in the area.
Just as Peter saw the area’s potential more than
three decades ag o, others, too, are starting to turn
the corner. After seven years at Margaret River’s
revered Cape Mentelle, Simon Burnell recently
headed north to take on the senior winemaker role
at Willow Bridge Estate in the Ferguson Valley.
And his reasons were completely dirty.
“As a winemaker, you look at that cut-out
and you just want to make wine out of that,” he
smiles as we marvel at a cross-sectional sample
of the earth at Willow Bridge Estate. Before us
is a colour scheme graduating from burnt orange to
white that looks like a BFG-sized Vienetta, yet it’s
sweet to winemakers too. These free-draining gravelly
loam soils keep vegetal growth in the vines to a
minimum while maximising the flavours in fruit.
“I think Geographe has the potential to
make the best shiraz in WA, if not the country,”
says Simon. “Before ever venturing up into the
Ferguson to Willow Bridge, I would often hear
whispers among Margaret River winemakers of
small parcels of intense purple shiraz from The
Ferguson Valley or Donnybrook making their way
down from the Geographe,” he says.
“Being further north, this area has significantly
increased sunshine hours and much less chance of
that rogue pre-har vest cold front spoiling the party.
There are a number of regions in WA capable of
hitting the mark with top class shiraz, but the hills
of Geographe have the potential to be the most
consistent region capable of achieving this.”
Other vignerons are placing their faith in
lesser-known varieties in the search for regional
recognition, primarily through experiments with
Mediterranean varieties. Enter family-owned
Donnybrook winery Barrecas.
Although the Barreca family has been making
wine for generations, 2009 proved to be quite the
breakout year. After winning wine of the show
at last year’s Geographe show, the 2008 Barrecas
shiraz went on to be named best wine at the 2009
WA Wine Awards, the Wine Industry Association’s
annual taste-off featuring all the trophy winners
from last year’s regional shows.
But it’s barbera that’s established Barrecas as a
cult favourite among wine drinkers with a thirst for
LEFT Fillipo Barreca and Iolanda Ratcliffe’s family has
been making wine for generations; ABOVE Peter
Pratten, Capel Vale founder; OPPOSITE PAGE Willow
Bridge Estate principal Jeff Dewar (holding the stick)
and winemaker Simon Burnell.
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