Here it is, release number five. In that brisk half-decade this tiny-batch husband-and-wife outfit has taken out trophies for pink, white and red wines, and Julian Langworthy has been named Winemaker of the Year.
Such bountiful talent – and the huge sense of confidence and fun embodied by Julian and Alana Langworthy – means Nocturne never got to enjoy life as a dark horse or best-kept-secret. No; this is a shining, strutting thoroughbred that wine-lovers among the trade and general public punted on from the off. The faithful have reaped their winnings in spades.
Such is the demand that the wines generally do their dash after a few short months of availability. They’ll mature beautifully given the chance but whether for slaying down or laying down, you still have to pounce quickly to get your paws on them.
2019 Nocturne Single-Vineyard Chardonnay Tassell Park, Treeton RRP $54
This as ever is a very exciting wine from a vineyard on the edge. Despite always ripening late, loving to get botrytis and generally giving me extreme levels of anxiety, it’s a vineyard that makes a unique wine.
This is the single-vineyard Chardonnay from the 0.37Ha Tassell Park site in Treeton. The vineyard is interplanted with gin gin clone and Burgundian 277 clone. Handpicked very late on 9th April and whole bunch-pressed directly to new, one- and two-year-old puncheons, with no settling or fining processes. Spontaneous fermentation, with the wine staying on gross lees unsulphured until September of that year. In December the wine was emptied from barrel, settled, filtered and bottled.
The 2019 is a super compelling and incredibly complex wine. Pale green with Tassel Park’s hallmark flint, funk and cool sea-breeze character. The palate is incredibly long and fine and likely more balanced than these wines generally are in their youth. Subtle oak character frames crunchy white nectarine and a perfect al dente structure. – Julian & Alana Langworthy
A bit of struck match and funk, white nectarine, lime, almond, brine and something like wet fern adding a slight green edge. It’s tight and crunchy, fine-boned and light, a subtle pineapple cream flavour in with the other more saline/savoury/nutty complex things. Distinct flinty and cool and clear feel, along with excellent length. Really good drinking now too. Frisky. 95 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front January 2021
2019 Nocturne Single-Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Sheoak, Yallingup RRP $54
This vintage was very cool from a Cabernet point of view. In the Sheoak vineyard this presented no issues as we had a lovely April just getting the right amount of concentration into the fruit while retaining elegance and natural charm. In fact 2019 has grown on me a huge amount; it has such silky elegance while retaining a beautiful sense of place, space and charm.
The fruit was picked on 13th April, a full month later than the 2018 vintage. While tasting the fruit in the vineyard it was clear that there were lovely flavours and supple tannins. Once crushed and into tank, the must exhibited the hallmark amazing colour and silky epic tannin that this vineyard is renowned for. The fruit was simply destemmed and fermented in 4.5-tonne static fermenters. After 12 days on skins and a peak ferment temperature of around 26˚C, the wine was pressed to tank and settled briefly, before being transferred to a combination of new (25%) and two-year-old barrels to undergo malolactic conversion. This wine was racked only once in this time and, after 18 months in oak, was emptied from barrel, settled, clarified and bottled.
The Sheoak Vineyard makes expressive, medium-bodied Cabernets. This release embodies that DNA. It’s a beautifully coloured wine. The nose has lifted warm spice, while cranberry and crunchy red fruits leap from the glass. The palate is presented on powder-fine cassis-laden tannins, and great freshness from natural acidity drives the wine to a long, joyous conclusion. A very serious yet seriously drinkable release. Feel free to cellar if you can resist its immediate appeal . Great Cabernet Sauvignon is where enlightenment and enjoyment come together – and if that doesn’t sound like you, go buy some Shiraz. – Alana & Julian Langworthy
Interesting wine. There’s a distinct walnut, cedar and furniture polish smell about it, or camphor chest, or similar. Aside that, dark chocolate, black fruit, pepper, some cranberry acidity and freshness, dry grainy tannin of grip and again a walnut/hazelnut skin character, brooding and a little herbal at the same time. Finish is good, all fresh blackberry, nori and nuts. Quite like it, but it’s an unusual wine all the same. 92 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front January 2021
ALSO AVAILABLE: SUB-REGIONAL WINES
2019 Nocturne SR Cabernets Yallingup sub-region RRP $36
Yallingup is our stomping ground and where the world’s greatest Cabernet and Cabernet blends are being grown! It’s deliciously warm but never hot, with the amazing dual influence of the Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay. For this year’s Cabernets we have used our own beloved Sheoak Cabernet and added some of our neighbour’s Merlot from the Simpson property, with which we’re lucky enough to share the amazing valley. The new and final player is a slinky little parcel of Malbec from Deep Woods just over the hill, to really make this wine pop.
The 2019 vintage in Margaret River and for Cabernet fit perfectly with this year’s theme: It was, like all the wines, cool. But in God’s own country of the Yallingup Hills, that presented no problem as we had a lovely April just getting the right amount of concentration into the fruit while retaining elegance and natural charm.
We started picking on 13th April and from the moment the fruit hit the fermenter the elegance and understated charm of these wines was evident. Instantly perfumed and richly coloured, the wine spent 12 days on skins with a peak fermentation temperature of around 26˚C. The wine was pressed to tank and settled briefly, before being transferred to a combination of new (25%) and two- and three-year-old barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation. It was racked only once in this time and, after 14 months in oak, was emptied from barrel. At this juncture we decided on the final make-up: 53% Cabernet Sauvignon; 35 % Merlot; and 12% Malbec. These wines were then settled together, clarified and bottled.
Cabernet is king and long will it reign in our eyes. If this modern blend doesn’t resonate hugely with you, then we have little faith in your imagination. It’s expressive, medium-bodied and approachable. A cassis-laced dream, if you will. – Alana & Julian Langworthy
Cassis and blueberry, baking spices, bay leaf and dark mint chocolate, old cupboards dusted with star anise, someone runs past with Dencorub on their buttocks, leaving just a whiff as they go. Medium-bodied, distinctly cool and ‘mineral’ feel to it, but warmed by spice and blue fruits, raspberry coulis, tannin has an emery board feel, lively, bright and long to close. All the spice, precision and charm of a cool vintage, and a lovely thing it is. Drinks beautifully. 94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front August 2020