Producer Article

Leeuwin Estate

Last edited on 11/19/2013 by MyCellar01
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History

Leeuwin Estate, one of the founding wineries of the now famous Margaret River district, consistently produces wines that rank with the world's finest.

In 1972, following an extensive search for the area most suitable to produce the best varietal wines in Australia, legendary American winemaker, Robert Mondavi, identified the future site of the Leeuwin vineyard.

Originally a cattle farm, Leeuwin Estate evolved, under the direction of Denis and Tricia Horgan, with Robert Mondavi acting as consultant and mentor.

A nursery was planted in 1974 and the initial vineyards were deep-ploughed, deep-ripped, emptied of stone, planned, pegged, measured, marked and eventually planted by hand over a five year period from 1975.

Featuring state-of-the art facilities, the winery building was opened in 1978, celebrating with a trial vintage. Leeuwin enjoyed its first commercial vintage in 1979, and was thrust into the international spotlight when Decanter Magazine gave its highest recommendation to the 1980 "Art Series" Chardonnay in an international blind tasting.

Maintaining a team of highly skilled and dedicated winemakers, and now under the direction of two generations of the founding family, Leeuwin now exports to over 30 countries.



Environment

Leeuwin Estate, an iconic producer of premium wines made from grapes grown in the Margaret River region of Western Australia, recognises that its environmental responsibilities are of significant importance to its staff, suppliers, customers and the local community.

As a family business the Estate is committed to managing the environmental effects of its operations through responsible stewardship, with the aim of maintaining a sustainable environment for future generations. To accomplish these goals Leeuwin Estate applies best practice standards for environmental management in all facets of the business.

The Margaret River district features pristine white sandy beaches, spectacular coastline and amazing surf. It is surrounded by majestic karri forests, is nestled within picturesque farmland and enjoys a balmy temperate climate.

Complemented by fine restaurants, art galleries and boutique luxury accommodation, Margaret River has spawned one of the world's most dynamic and innovative wine tourism industries.

Located in the South West of Western Australia, approximately 280 km south of Perth, Leeuwin Estate enjoys a unique environment that is highly complementary to the production of high quality varietal wines.

Less than 6 km from the ocean, Leeuwin Estate is approximately midway between Cape Naturaliste to the north and Cape Leeuwin, Australia’s most southwesterly point.

The area between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin is one of the most ancient parts of the world. It became isolated when the continental crust split leaving a 100 km sedimentary basin between it and the mainland. Today the basin contains some of the world’s largest mineral sand deposits.

This granitic island, where the Leeuwin vineyard is located, has weathered over millions of years and now provides us as vignerons with the ancient free draining gravel soils, which are highly complementary to the culture of the vine, as well as promoting great finesse in the wine.

Leeuwin’s rainfall is dictated by the “Roaring 40’s” which move north in our winter and south in our summer, with the oscillation of the earth. 85% of rainfall is therefore received during the cooler six months.

With oceans on three sides only changing water temperature by two degrees between summer and winter, the district has its own microclimate. Leeuwin’s vineyards are therefore protected from extremes of temperature and are frost-free during the critical spring growing period.

The mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures during the summer season are very similar to those of Bordeaux. The significant difference however is that our season opens slightly earlier and closes slightly later, providing us with greater latitude to ripen our fruit, whilst also accommodating earlier ripening varieties such as Chardonnay.

In all, the weather conditions in an “average” year in Margaret River equate to those that Bordeaux only enjoys occasionally in “great” years.



From Fruit to Wine

Great wines are born in great vineyards, and at Leeuwin the viticulturist and winemaker work hand-in-hand throughout the entire winemaking process, combining their skills to create wines of distinction.

Careful study, and the eventual grafting of some vines has revealed the best varieties for the Leeuwin vineyard to be Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz make up the diversity of the vineyard, which also incorporates smaller plantings of varieties utilised for blending.

Enjoying such an isolated and pristine natural environment, the emphasis of Leeuwin's viticultural practice is minimal interventionist. Working with the environment and through skilled vineyard management, Leeuwin is able to produce fine fruit in an environmentally friendly manner.

Vineyards are kept balanced with the yearly environmental conditions. With the emphasis on quality rather than quantity, yields at Leeuwin are kept low.

Boasting one of the most modern wineries in the Southern hemisphere, Leeuwin Estate offers its winemakers all the advantages of new age technology.

Winemaking however is an art as well as a science, and it is here where the skills of the winemaker are carefully combined with technology to produce the wines that have been so highly acclaimed.

Broadly following European winemaking techniques, Leeuwin is concentrating on achieving complexity, balance and longevity in its wines through a blend of modern and traditional methods.

Temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, two Bucher Pneumatic presses, and a cellar of imported French oak barrels, are at the disposal of the winemaker to ensure that the fruit is transformed into the intended style of wine.



Leeuwin Estate Wines

Leeuwin Estate releases its wines under four labels, the Art Series, Prelude Vineyards and Siblings. Whilst the wines in each portfolio follow different lives, they all share a place amongst the great wines of Australia, receiving much international acclaim and attention.


The “Art Series” represents Leeuwin’s finest wines from each vintage. The winemakers have always selected the optimum fruit, transforming it into Leeuwin’s highest quality and age-worthy wines. They are identified with paintings commissioned from leading contemporary Australian Artists.


Whilst "Art Series" wines are designed to age and ultimately to be the most opulent, "Prelude Vineyards" wines are made from fruit producing the most readily expressive wines, with the objective that they will drink well soon after release. A Chardonnay and a Cabernet Merlot are released under this label. During the course of assessing fruit from the vineyards, the winemakers have found that certain blocks, and even certain rows in particular blocks, tend to consistently produce fruit best suited to either of the two styles of Cabernet and Chardonnay they make.


The "Siblings" label represents wines intended for fresh early drinking. As a family business, this label celebrates the role the second generation of the Horgan family has played in the ongoing development of Leeuwin Estate.


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