In 1968, Englishman Tony Smith used a small inheritance to buy a farm named ‘Bouverie’ in Mount Barker, in the Plantagenet Shire in Western Australia. The name derives from the shire in which it is located, however, the shire itself gets its name from a descendant of the Plantagenet royal line (ruling in England from 1154 to 1399) who founded the region in 1871. The names of the wines all have some relation to the Plantagenet royal family. Tony planted the vineyard with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, with the first vintage produced in 1974. More vines were planted over the years: ‘Wyjup’ in 1971; ‘Rocky Horror I’ and ‘Crystal Brook’ in 1988; ‘Rocky Horror II’ in 1997; and ‘Rosetta’ in 1999. Other varieties planted include Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which all thrive in the cool climate of the Great Southern region, with a total of 126ha now under vine. In 1999, the winery was purchased by Lionel Samson & Son, one of the oldest businesses in Western Australia. The current winemaker is Luke Eckersley, born in the Great Southern region, who has completed vintages throughout Europe and the United States, before returning to Western Australia to pursue his winemaking career.
Plantagenet offer wines under two labels: ‘Plantagenet’, and more budget-priced ‘Three Lions’ (after the coat of arms for the Plantagenet family). The ‘Plantagenet Angevin Riesling’ features flavours of oyster shell and lemon rind notes over refreshing acidity, helping the wine show ‘youthful poise’, this wine can also be held in the cellar for up to eight years. Apart from their ‘Aged Release’ wines (released to the public after aging for a number of years), the ‘Plantagenet Lancaster Shiraz’ is one of their more premium bottles, with dark chocolate and red berries on the nose and palate, and a firm, structured finish, that can help it age for up to a decade.
Australia’s western state, aptly named ‘Western Australia’, spans around a third of the continent. Although, while the state is huge, its grape output is minute, accounting for only 5% of Australia’s output. But what the region lacks in numbers, it makes up for in quality – boasting some of Australia’s finest wineries.
Pretty much all of Western Australia’s wine regions are situated on the continents south western tip, taking advantage of the cooler climate and considering the size of the state, it’s no surprise that there’s nine of them; Swan District, Perth Hills, Peel, Geographe, Blackwood Valley, Pemberton, Manjimup, Great Southern and Margaret River.
Each region is unique and stands out in its own way, yet one sits head and shoulders above all others – Margaret River. The location and climate allows vintners in the region to achieve near perfect results with very little effort. In fact Margaret River has been turning heads since a little after 1967, the date the first vines were planted. Margaret river is renowned for many varieties, but we are particularly fond of its Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling and Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc blends.