Of the many new Australian wine regions developed since World War II, Margaret River stands out. Its mild, stable, maritime climate is its greatest asset. It's most famous for cabernet sauvignon, with chardonnay nudging it for the spotlight, but also produces excellent sauvignon blanc, shiraz, and other varieties. Vasse Felix, Cullen, Cape Mentelle, Moss Wood, Xanadu, Pierro and Sandalford have become household names.. But there are 90 cellar doors in the region and many less-known producers, a lot of them micro-boutiques, doing interesting things. Here are three for starters.
Marri Wood Park Chenin Blanc 2019, Margaret River, $40
Chenin blanc is emerging as one of the less-talked-about stars of the region. The winemaker is Nic Peterkin, who also makes a superb chenin under his own LAS Vino label. This is obviously barrel-fermented, as it has a strong nutty, spicy element in its bouquet adding layers to the subtle chenin fruit, while the palate is rich and has the extra dimension of subtle oak. It's intense and penetrating, long on the aftertaste and engagingly complex. Screw-cap; 13.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing Drink now to seven years.
Stockists Marri Wood, 0438 525 580; Good Pair Days wine club, goodpairdays.com
Frazer Woods Traditional Method Sparkling Shiraz NV, Margaret River, $34
Sparkling red, previously known as "sparkling burgundy", was traditionally marketed with some maturity but today young, sweet and fruity is the norm. This one astonishes for four reasons: it's 13 years old (2008); it's very good; it's remarkably inexpensive; and it comes from a little-known producer. With a deep brick-red to ruby colour and a mellow, complex raisin, roasting-pan and dried mushroom bouquet, it shows the benefit of bottle-age. Full and generous, with a dab of sweetness, lots of flavour and generous aged character at a modest price. Diam; 14.3 per cent alcohol.
Ageing Drink now to four years.
Umamu Estate 'Blanc' Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Margaret River, $34
This winery regularly surprises by releasing mature wines at remarkably affordable prices. This is an excellent wine and a rare example of a mature, ripe sauvignon blanc. A full yellow colour reveals its age. The bouquet confirms it as a mature sauvignon blanc with toasty, nutty aromas derived from maturation plus a suspicion of barrel, resulting in a beautifully spicy complexity that deftly mixes fruit and secondary characteristics. It's full-bodied and rich in the mouth, properly dry and savoury as well as generous and lingering. Screw-cap; 12 per cent alcohol.
Ageing Drink now.