It’s hard to believe that the fifth release of Nocturne is upon us. The support and love shown for our first four releases was astounding. This year the big man himself – the one and only James Halliday – gave us two lots of 97 points and a lazy 96 for last year’s releases, not to mention the title of Australia’s best Rosé!
This year’s sub regional wines are pretty damn cool. It’s fair to suggest that the 2019 season was not as strong overall as ’18; what it is, however, is an early-approachable dream. What shines through for us is that, in this second release, the SR range seems to have found its soul. Its verve. Its relevance, if you will.
We have three wines that shine from the best regions within Margaret River, in the most contemporary and high-quality fashion. – Alana & Julian Langworthy
SUB-REGIONAL (SR) WINES
2019 Nocturne Sub-Regional Chardonnay Treeton RRP $36
Treeton: It’s a weird little area full of hillbillies, dairy cows and, interestingly, some great Chardonnay vineyards. Cold at night, warm in the day with deep silver-grey sands that we think produce special Chardonnay. This wine is a combination of two awesome Treeton vineyards: the original and favourite Tassell Park; and a new vineyard called Grace & White.
I know you’re all sick of hearing it, but it was again a very good vintage. Quite long and largely cool, there was some disease pressure but not too much and, as such, it all worked out pretty damn fine. The season was Goldilocksesque in terms of picking dates. As always these vineyards were some of the last picked on 5th and 9th April, a couple of weeks later than in 2018.
The grapes were harvested by hand and whole bunch-pressed directly to new, one- and two-year-old puncheons, with a smattering of barriques for good measure. We did no settling or fining. This juice was then very carefully neglected and allowed to undergo spontaneous fermentation, which kicked off on day five after pressing. After a six-week ferment the wine remained on gross lees unsulphured until August of that year. In November it was emptied from barrel, settled, filtered and bottled.
This wine is, unsurprisingly, super cool. It’s pale green, redolent of white stone fruits and the suggestion of flint and funk. So pure, and finer than the 2018 – but the texture and length of flavour are to die for. Chardonnay is what Jesus made when he turned water into wine, it’s also why we winemakers have a God complex. – Alana & Julian Langworthy
It’s crisp and fresh with a little struck match a la mode, cashews, lime and white peach, and a dusting of spice. Freshness and lime juice tang with a flinty feel, and the smoothing influence of grilled nuts, and a brisk and frisky finish of fine length and precision. It’s nice. 94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front August 2020
2020 Nocturne Sub-Regional Sangiovese Nebbiolo Rosé Carbunup RRP $32
2020: f*ck me, what a year. This wine is, however, a beacon of deliciousness. Sangiovese is again the dominant player in this blend, with more than 80% this year. We then have around 17% Nebbiolo, and for some reason we stuck in around 3% Brown Muscat, too. Don’t tell anyone; it didn’t make it to the label, but it made it to the amazing aroma. This wine is fine, ethereally light and delicious – so much so that you need to remind yourself it’s not just exceptionally tasty spring water.
The fruit comes from the sub-region of Carbunup in Margaret River, with the sites being relatively flat and warm with fertile, red sandy soils. The Sangiovese was harvested on 18th February and the Nebbiolo just behind it on 24th – almost six weeks earlier than the previous year. The Sangiovese fruit was simply destemmed, chilled and pressed using only the free-run fraction of the juice. It was then fermented at moderate temperatures using, as always, indigenous yeasts only. It was then matured on gross lees for three months post-fermentation to add additional texture. The Nebbiolo was hand-picked and, after chilling, the fruit was whole bunch-pressed directly to old oak for fermentation. Fermentation took close to eight weeks and the wine received a further 10 weeks’ maturation in barrel. At this stage the final blend between Sangiovese and Nebbiolo was decided, and the wine was emptied from tank/barrel, settled, filtered, sulphured and bottled on 16th July.
This wine is, in keeping with the theme of SR2, pretty damn cool. The texture and acid structure are impeccable but it’s the extreme drinkability that has me – and in a year when you might need it! As always, best drunk from magnum, on a boat, wearing white…. It’s a pale salmon dream. – Alana & Julian Langworthy
Has a little dirt under its nails with a subtle sulphide stink, and also, something lifted and floral kind of like Moscato, tangy redcurrant and barely ripe cherries, fennel tips, a fine chalky feel, a lot of energy, almost into white wine style, but with a bit of extra red berry oomph. Ruby red grapefruit zips up a nice long finish. Really good, and I suspect it may improve a little as it settles into bottle. 93+ points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front August 2020
2019 Nocturne Sub-Regional Cabernet Sauvignon Yallingup 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