DOMAINE NATURALISTE Artus Chardonnay, Margaret River
Artus aims to express Margaret River’s GinGin Chardonnay clone, famous for its ‘hen-and-chicken’ habit. The mix of normal and much smaller grapes in the same bunch leads to wine with intense flavours and good acid structure. Artus aims to be a provocative, complex and textural wine that evokes ‘old world’ Chardonnay. The vines are managed to allow only dappled light into the fruiting zone. This is said to promote flavour development, low tannins and bright levels of natural acidity. The fruit is farmed in the cool southern part of Margaret River. The tiny Gin Gin bunches (averaging just 100g each) are hand harvested at first light to preserve freshness. Typically, flavours of fresh nectarines and candied pecan nuts are supported by aromas of poached pears and marzipan.
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.