Not for nothing is Australia – officially the Commonwealth of Australia – called the Island Continent. Covering just under 7.7 million sqkm, Australia alone is equivalent to around 75 percent of the size of Europe in its entirety. The country is administratively divided into six Federal States, three Federal Territories and seven External Territories. Excluding the far-flung exclave of the Australian Antarctic Territory, the single largest administrative region of Australia is the State of Western Australia, covering some 2.5 million sqkm, more than five times the size of Spain. Known for being unpretentious, the Aussies do not call their states “the Great State of so-and-so” as would the Americans; in the case of Western Australia, it is simply “WA”. “By the Grace of God”? No mates (pronounced: /maits/)…
Despite its sheer size, much of WA is either uninhabitable or uninhabited. Some 75 percent of its population lives in Perth, the only urban centre in WA, otherwise known as “the world’s most isolated city”. In terms of viticulture and winemaking, WA represents merely 8 percent and 5 percent of Australia’s vineyards and production. However, moderated by the southern Indian Ocean and the northern Antarctic Ocean – a unique combination the world over – WA has established itself as one of the leading cool climate regions from Down Under.
The northern part of WA’s viticulture region is significantly warmer and more prolific than the southern part; indeed, the southern tip of WA is said to be as cool and wet as the South Island of New Zealand, home to numerous thrilling cool climate gems such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling. In terms of grape varieties planted and wine produced, WA has a very balanced portfolio comprising Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (a.k.a. “SBS”), Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot and Riesling, with none representing more than 20 percent of total output.
Situated in Swan Valley, WA’s oldest wine-producing area, Bella Ridge Estate was established in 2003 by Alon Arbel and his wife Jodi. Essentially a boutique winery, Bella Ridge Estate has but 10ha under vine, but its fine produce has been received critical acclaim from leading Australian wine critics, including James Halliday, Huon Hooke and Peter Forrestal.
Made with 100 percent Kyoho, a black table grape variety originated from Japan, indeed a cross between vitis vinifera and vitis labrusca. Bright tangerine with rich amber reflex, the delicate nose offers fresh grapes, grapefruit and paperwhite. With ample acidity and traces of tannins, the fruity palate delivers clementine, white peach and garden herbs. Off-dry and medium-bodied at 11percent, the musky entry carries onto a sweetish mid-palate, leading to an adorable finish.
Bella Ridge Estate Tempranillo 2010
A single-varietal Tempranillo. Rich garnet with carmine-ruby rim, the fragrant nose provides mulberry, red cherry, tobacco leaf and sweet oak. With bright acidity and rich tannins, the sturdy palate supplies bilberry, black cherry, coffea arabica and charcoal. Medium-bodied at 14.5 percent, the tangy entry persists through an energetic mid-palate, leading to a long finish.
A single-varietal Chenin Blanc with measured oak influence. Pale citrine with light golden reflex, the clear nose presents apricot, hami melon, light cream and lees. With lively acidity, the focused palate furnishes nectarine, cantaloupe, garden herbs and white oak. Medium-full bodied at 12percent, the fleshy entry continues through a toasted mid-palate, leading to a clean finish.
Bella Ridge Estate Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2008
A classic GSM blend. Rich garnet with cardinal-crimson rim, the perfumed nose effuses raspberry, redcurrant, balsam and geranium. With animated acidity and tasty tannisn, the scented palate emanates cranberry, red cherry, bouquet garni and iris. Medium-full bodied at 15 percent, the fleshy entry evolves into a harmonious mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish.
To discover the hidden gems of Western Australia, contact Ms Ada Leung of Cottage Vineyards;
W: www.cottagevineyards.com; E: firstname.lastname@example.org; T: +853 6283 3238
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain,
France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages