Stella Bella, Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Margaret River, Australia, 2014
It is not merely in the names where these wines are memorable, as once you have tasted them you will see why Luke Jolliffe, the winemaker, continues to receive recognition and awards from around the world for wines that have that wonderful Margaret River restraint and elegance, but are bound together with a fruit purity that makes them delectable.
Their philosophy regarding viticulture is simple, and that is to operate in a manner that consciously respects the vineyards that they tend as well as the local environment. Minimal chemical inputs and fertilisers are used along with minimal intervention as - aiming for vine balance. Stella Bella are acutely aware of the environmentally pristine nature of this part of the world and manage their vineyards accordingly. An example of this is their recent introduction of Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (the Australian Native Ladybird) to predate on mealy bugs. This has been a very successful natural control measure. Unlike almost all other wine producing regions, because Western Australia is free from Phylloxera, Stella Bella wines are all on their own roots, and not on rootstock, which arguably gives them a purer expression of the various cultivars grown and the respective sites they are planted in.
Fruit is picked on a combination of flavour, vine condition, sugar/pH/TA and intuition. They pick across a spectrum of ripeness levels for complexity. Every block is picked and vinified separately for maximum blending options.
Swards of rye and clover have been planted to help prevent soil compaction and to assist in fixing nitrogen. The vines are all trellised using Vertical Shoot Position (VSP), and are spur-pruned with the exception of a couple of older blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc that are cane pruned.
Spur-pruning helps to ensure that the spur spacing results in the correct shoot spacing in the canopy, which in turn leads to well-exposed leaves and fruit. This results in them obtaining the optimum balance between leaves, canes and bunches.
All blocks used to make the Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon are hand-picked and vinified seperately. The baume range for the Sauvignon Blanc is 12 to 12.5 and the Semillon 11.5 to 12.5 After cooling overnight, the grapes are whole fruit pressed. The free run juice is lightly settled then transferred to barrel for fermentation in 40% new French oak barriques, 30 % 2nd use and 30% 3rd use. Further barrel maturation continues until July of the following year. Bottling occurs in August of the first year, post the vintage and release is 12 months after bottling.
Time: 15 months; Type: French oak barriques; % oaked: 100; % new oak: 40;
Structured by the driving purity of Semillon’s citrus fruits then enriched with Sauvignon Blanc’s nectarine, gooseberry, passionfruit and sweet herbs. From fermentation and lengthy maturation in oak, the palate acquires an oak veneer, a mineral edge and lemon butter richness. In time, the tightly woven acidity will soften and the oak will meld with the ample ripe fruit to yield a fine, long living layered and meticulously structured wine.
Poached salmon, natural oysters, chevre, ceviche.
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viticulture, vinification, commerce and community.
Rational producers demonstrate that they use the least amount of intervention in the vineyard and winery to make the best possible wine.