The Reserve and Stevens Road wines are now due for release so I figure it as good time as any to reflect on these wines.
The production remains very limited under the both labels. This is due to a few factors, one being that the specific blocks that provide the wines are tiny (for instance we only have 0.5 Ha of Stevens Road Cabernet), so the production is restricted to the yield of these blocks, regardless of our desire to make (or maybe more so, to drink) more. The exclusivity of these wines is also due to our desire to consistently produce a wine that befits the pedigree that both the Stevens Road and the Reserve wines have become known and acclaimed for. We want to really ‘pick the eyes’ out of each batch and choose only the best barrels in the pursuit of quality. Within a batch of wine, it’s amazing to see how each barrel has a distinct personality all of its own, whether it be due to the oak type or age, or just the subtle complexities of some wild fermentation which means no two barrels are ever the same.
Our Reserve wine program started back in its true form in 2008 (there were a few ‘Limited Release’ blue-prints in 2006 / 2007). Its philosophy and modus operandi has always been to make the best from what that vintage brings us. Whether it be from one vineyard or variety or a blend, the wine quality is at the forefront of our minds. The Stevens Road label started as a slightly covert pet project back in 2009. After a few years of understanding the worth and true potential of the special site we felt we needed to capture and highlight the unique terrior of this single vineyard in a bottle. It is, and will always remain, a single vineyard wine.
This brings me to an interesting point. This new releases of Stevens Road and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon’s (2012) and the Chardonnay’s (2013) are in fact all single vineyard wines. It is easy to see why people can be attracted to a single vineyard wines. It’s great to see what just one block or vineyard can do on its own. You really get to taste the site and the variety in a completely stripped down, unadulterated way. There is nowhere to hide with these, flaws can’t be masked or blended over. Just a liquid snapshot of some vines in a particular piece of dirt at a particular point in time.
However, this is not to say that we see a blend as a less authentic expression of place or variety. Blends are part of Australia’s wine DNA and often a wine can achieve a synergy when blended which is greater than each of its parts. Personally, I don’t see blends and single vineyard wines as being superior to each other. I think the world of wine is richer for the existence of both. It just happened to be, in the case of these releases (in particular the Reserves), the best wine(s) have come from single vineyards. Next year it could be a completely different story.
No matter how special the vineyard is, you don’t make wines like these without a little help from mother nature. We are fortunate that Margaret River has had a dream run of vintages that has afforded us the opportunity to make both of these wines every year since their inception, and 2015 looks no different. However, as soon as the vintage conditions deem that the wine is not up to our expectations, we will have no hesitation not to produce a Reserve of Stevens Road wine. Such is our commitment to the quality, pedigree and longevity of these wines.
So speaking of the wines…
There is a real stylistic dichotomy between the Reserves and Stevens Road wines. The slightly cooler microclimate of the Stevens Road Valley (located in the Wallcliffe sub region), that seems to give the wines a level of elegance and restraint whilst the Reserve Chardonnay (sourced from the original Lagan estate on the Xanadu property – also Wallcliffe) and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (sourced from Wilyabrup) have a greater depth of power and concentration. Regardless of stylistic difference, both ranges speak of the essence of the variety, the region and the vintage. This is something we constantly strive for. We honestly believe that the both the Reserves and Stevens Road wines are very worthy (if not slightly better) follow ups to their acclaimed predecessors. Like I mentioned, we have only made very limited amounts so get in quick before we drink it all ourselves.
Brendan Carr, Winemaker