Few Australian wineries have had such an impact from the outset than dynamic young Margaret River producer, Flametree Wines.
This relative new-comer flew out of the blocks with a coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy on the first vintage for its 2007 Cabernet Merlot, a feat only matched by another iconic Margaret River name in cabernet, Cape Mentelle, with back-to-back wins in 1983 and ’84.
The Starfish recently swung by the Flametree cellar door at Dunsborough and caught up with its amiable and respected winemaker Cliff Royle, who was finishing off the 2012 vintage. Cliff seemed mighty pleased with himself.
“I think the 2012 vintage is one of the best on record, and some people are saying it will be the best Margaret River has seen,” he enthused.
That’s really saying something about the Western Australian region, arguably Australia’s greatest producer of premier wines.
“The reds, in particular, will be a match for those from the most memorable years here, and could even be the best so far. We will see: everyone is pretty excited about it,” says Cliff.
He said the red and white fruit picked this year was first class, so keep an eye out for wines of both varieties.
Since the Jimmy Watson accolade few years ago, the Flametree Cabernet Merlot has a way of selling out at lightning speed. But it’s not the only Flametree wine in this enviable position; the other styles are also best sellers.
This week in Yum we sample the 2011 Flametree Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and the 2011 Flamestree Shiraz (the first Shiraz produced from entirely Margaret River fruit at Flametree), and are very impressed with both!
2011 Flametree Shiraz
100% Margaret River Shiraz
There was a time not so long ago when Margaret River Shiraz was looked on with a vaguely disdainful eye, Cabernet being the anointed king of the reds in the young wine region. But that was then; and wines like this one prove without doubt the area can consistently produced first-class red from the variety. This was an excellent Shiraz vintage on the Cape, so if you are looking for complexity and fruit weight in your wines, then here is a wine that delivers in spades. It is an inspired amalgamation of fruit from five different vineyards spanning three Margaret River sub regions – Wallcliffe, Wilyabrup and Yallingup. The more southern Wallcliffe vineyard shows pepper and spice whilst the vineyards further north offer up dark fruits and concentrated fruit flavours. Plenty of TLC in the vineyard and winery has produced a wine of depth and robust character. It is deep red-purple in the glass and has a perfume of dark berry, plum and soft pepper. There are sweet dark fruits, plum and hints of liquorice and spice on the palate, combined with a vibrant mouth feel, well integrated oak and fine tannins. Aged in older barrels to keep the oak influence in the background, and fruit flavours as the star of the show. A great first-time Margaret River Shiraz from Flametree and a treat with winter roast lamb or a beef casserole.
Suggested cellaring: Up to 8 years
2011 Flametree Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
100% Margaret River
70% Sauvignon Blanc 30% Semillon
Both Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon do extremely well in the Margaret River wine region and often make fabulous stand-alone wines. Nevertheless some of the most outstanding whites from the area are a careful blend of the two varieties. The Flametree SBS is undoubtedly one of these – a fine, easy drinking, and vibrant white. In the glass the colour is light straw with soft hints of green. The aroma offers up lemon and lime nuances, combined with white peach and traces of cut grass and nettle. Lemon blossom, white stone fruit, gooseberry and subtle herbs are the notable flavours on a crisp, well-balanced palate. Unlike some other Margaret River SBS, this wine is enhanced with a touch of spicy barrel ferment, giving it a more sophisticated and attractive palate. Extended lees contact has given the wine some added texture and a long, satisfying finish. Fine fruit flavours and fresh acidity are a hallmark of the 2011 vintage. Pretty hard to pass up, and ideal with a piece of fresh pan-fried dhufish!
Cellaring: Drink now or cellar short term.