Julian Langworthy has a big ‘day job’ running the show for Margaret River’s Deep Woods, but he finds enough time to fashion one of the West’s most exciting small labels. His Nocturne rosé has become a benchmark in short time, and the 2022 is stellar, a riot of red fruits, tangerine and floral notes, with a properly dry but agreeably textural palate.
This is mainly sangiovese (88%), with a sliver of tempranillo (8%) and the balance in grenache, though the latter isn’t on the label. A classically pale colour here, though a step up from the ultra-frail Provence-styled wines of today, more a light dusky rose gold. The nose is lifted and fragrant, with aromas of wild red berries, pomegranate, tangerine peel, white peach and rose petals. This is dry but far from austere, with a light plump of texture giving a suppleness in the mid-palate, some cherry and redcurrant notes joining the fray. A subtly persistent line of acidity gives this shape through the finish, dry, savoury and long on flavour.
Themes of this wine
From its spiritual home in Provence, in southern France, rosé can be both democratically affordable and dizzyingly expensive, but it rarely slips into the sordid or gets hung up on being too serious. It maintains a broad welcoming smile. It says, drink me. It says, relax, have fun. Those bottles of rosy-tinged sunshine have been exported to all corners of the globe in their legion, and they have found their mark, fashioning the expectations of drinkers and shaping the decisions of winemakers. But rosé is breaking those shackles, with wines varying in shades and from a vast array of varieties, some bold and rich, some savoury and mineral, and with different applications, from those demanding food to those that shrug off the idea of interrupting the fun times.
Sangiovese is Italy’s most important grape, by both volume and reputation, and it has travelled the world, establishing serious outposts across the New World. In Australia, sangiovese didn’t really start making inroads until the late 1980s, but with improved genetic material, it is now making quite an impression. The key flavour component mentioned when people talk about sangiovese is cherry, generally red, but sometimes black, with that primary profile generally accented with savoury notes of dried berries, hardy herbs, dried earth, leather and cedary notes.
Tempranillo is unarguably Spain’s most recognisable variety, forming the bedrock of that country’s most famous red wines, as well as being one of one of the five key grapes from Portugal’s emblematic fortified – Port. In Australia, it has made a meaningful mark, but with limited genetic vine material, the potential for the grape is exponentially bigger, and with new clones now online that potential is starting to be fulfilled. The flavours of tempranillo naturally vary depending on ripeness, both red and darker fruits are common, with plum, blackberry and cherry common descriptors. Those fruit flavours are typically accompanied by savoury notes, often leather, tobacco, woodsy herbs and spice notes, with cola as another notable descriptor.
If you’re after a wine region with a healthy dose of conspicuous glamour, then Margaret River has it all. Three hours south of Perth, ‘Margs’ is littered with iconic wineries, many with dazzling cellar doors and world-class restaurants. And then there’s the abundant sunshine, and the beaches – oh, those beaches… It’s a beautiful, beautiful place, and for a young wine region it’s very mature, with well-established paths to success built largely on the twin pillars of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon (et al). Names like Cullen, Moss Wood, Woodlands, Leeuwin Estate and Vasse Felix feel like they’re etched in stone, but in the last little while, smaller players have been making their mark.