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.
Handpicked Wines is a multi-regional operation focused on crafting superlative wines from Australia’s most propitiously situated regions and vineyards. To facilitate this, a flagship vineyard and winery have been established on the Mornington Peninsula, with satellite vineyards in the Yarra Valley, Tasmania and Barossa Valley.
While each region offers different shades, articulated as meticulously crafted wines hewn of those cultivars best suited to the respective climate and geologies, five of Handpicked's vineyards focus on top-drawer pinot noir and chardonnay. These consist of two in Tasmania's Tamar Valley, Capella Vineyard in the Mornington Peninsula and two in the Yarra Valley, including Wombat Creek in the Upper Yarra, a Grand Cru equivalent boasting the highest elevation of any regional site.
This focus has reaped rewards. Handpicked wines are consistently rated highly by major critics, accentuated by the Mornington Peninsula Trophy for the 2018 Collection Pinot Noir and an entrenched position amidst Huon Hooke’s 52 Best Australian Wineries.
Barossan Shiraz and Grenache are naturally a highlight. A detailed Yarra Cabernet, too, flecked with aged complexity is possibly the most cellar-worthy of the stable.
Director of winemaking Peter Dillon travels extensively to ensure stringent quality control throughout the regions. The emphasis is on optimal physiological and fruit ripeness. In essence, nothing is excessive with finely meshed tannins and juicy acidity laying a platform for svelte, flavoursome fruit.
Together with assistant winemaker Jonathon Mattick, the duo work closely with a team of viticulturists who manage the vineyards. The operations are complemented by a contemporary cellar door in Sydney's CBD, showcasing the holistic meld of concept, region, site, vineyard and consummate hospitality.