Back around the turn of millennium, Alex McKay drove countless miles sourcing fruit for a big wine company. And, like many before him, that experience proved invaluable when he launched his own label, Collector Wines. Armed with a mental map of soils, macroclimates, varieties and clones, McKay has taken Collector into the elite ranks in…
Tash Arthur Arthur Wines
Arthur Wines is unusual, and potentially unique, in the Australian wine scene. Started by Tash Arthur in 2011, Arthur Wines is based in Margaret River, but there’s no cabernet or chardonnay here, rather she focuses on making fortified wines, very much as modern reframings of styles that dominated the market way back in the mist of the early 20th century. Today, Arthur Wines produce early drinking red and white styles from their Rosa Glen property, a barrel-aged muscat, as well as a solera tawny blend and an aperitif-style fortified, which are soon to be released.
Arthur began her career as a registered nurse, but an interest in wine eventually diverted her into earning a bachelor’s degree in oenology and viticulture. Somewhat against the flow, she developed a deep passion for fortified wines, and a practical apprenticeship both in Rutherglen and Portugal cemented her on the path to making her own range. That was all supposed to happen in Rutherglen, but a trip back to her home state saw her meet her future husband, Rob, a third-generation Margaret River farmer.
Arthur worked as a cellar hand then assistant winemaker with Bill and Stephen Chambers at their iconic Chambers Rosewood winery, where some of this country’s finest fortifieds have been made. She also credits Chris and Jen Pfeiffer as mentors for sharing their equally deep knowledge of Rutherglen wine history, as well as their deep reserves of great wine. But no education would be complete without a trip to Portugal, and a stint as vintage winemaker at Croft followed.
“Part of my job was to monitor the lagars overnight, where the best fruit destined for vintage port would be foot trod and fermented. I spent many a nightshift watching and working the musts waiting for them to be ready to be pressed and fortified at exactly the right Baume. 2007 was a great vintage and some stellar vintage port was made in the region that year,” Arthur says.
Arthur returned to WA to set up on shop on the family farm, working at both McHenry Honen and Amberley Estate while they found their feet. The Arthur Wines debut release was in 2011, with friends and family pitching in. “We had a few hiccups especially in the labelling department which meant we had to re-apply all the neck ties on our first run. But we learn as we go and improve what we do each time. We completed our winery build in 2013 which made it so much easier as our first bub arrived just before the fruit did in that year.”
Arthur Wines is a bold player in Margaret River, indeed in an Australian wine world that appreciates but rarely drinks fortified wines. And while Arthur has classic styles for ageing in the wings, her fresh approach to making wines with lithe energy that can be drunk as is, over ice or with a splash of mixer make them very of the moment.