Blue Poles Reserve Merlot, Margaret River
Since 2007, Blue Poles has produced varietal ‘reserve’ wines from their plantings of Merlot.
On the vine, the fruit is subject to thinning after fruit set but before veraison. At harvest, the grapes are hand-picked in the cool early morning and any that are not good ‘enough to eat’ are discarded. After a gentle extraction, the wine is vinified before spending 18-22 months on French oak.
Located three hours south of Perth, Margaret River is Western Australia’s most prestigious wine-growing region. Serious vineyard development began only in the late 1960’s following the publication of a report by John Gladstones in 1965 stating that the area had a similar climate to Pomerol or St Emilion, with low frost risk, plenty of sunshine and equable temperatures within the growing season promoting even ripening. Margaret River’s climate is warm and maritime, with some cooling influence provided by southeast trade winds. The soils derive from granitic and a gneissic rock over which laterite has formed. The region can be divided in three sub-regions: the cooler south between Yallingup and Karridale with predominantly lateritic gravelly loamy sands and sandy loams; the warm and sunnier Willyabrup in the centre with predominantly gravelly loams, but some gritty sandy loams and granitic gravels; and Margaret River in the north with similar soils, but slightly cooler temperatures. This is entirely consistent with style; the wines from Willyabrup being more generous than the highly structured wines of the north and the elegant styles of the south. Margaret River is best known for high quality Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends and top notch Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Over the years, the region has established an astonishing reputation illustrating a consistency in quality and a strongly focused winemaking culture.
Blue Poles is a Margaret River boutique winery in Rosa Brook that focuses its efforts on Bordeaux ‘Right Bank’ varieties of Merlot and Cabernet Franc in contrasts to the ‘Left Bank’ Cabernet Sauvignon which dominates the region. The site was selected due to the depth of laterite gravels and nature of the subsoils, the subtle recognition of a cooler micro-climate, and the topography aiding in the ripening of the grapes which preserves acid but maximises tannin and flavour. These small but critical factors have ensured the wines are not manipulated at the winery in any way with the aim of representing the terroir of the site in its purest form.
The vineyard was named after the Jackson Pollock painting Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952. Purchased for the sum of $1 million by the Australian National Gallery in the early 1970s which was controversial in Australia at the time. This purchase, however, is now seen as a watershed in Australian history as it represented a more modern forward-thinking Australia. These traits are echoed by those at Blue Poles Winery in the vineyard and the winery.