Stella Bella, Shiraz, Margaret River, Australia, 2016
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. Sheep are used in the vineyard over winter to reduce/eliminate the use of herbicides. 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 the individual vineyards that contribute to the Shiraz are vinified separately. Selected batches are fermented with 10% whole bunch for about 6 days on skins. Maturation occurs in a mix of new and old barriques with 20% new oak.
Time: 13 Months; Type: French; % oaked: 100; % new oak: 20;
Bright red with purple hues. The intense fruit aromas jump out of the glass, abundant with plums, cherries and strawberries. Followed by hints of musk and redskins, with a vanillin lift and a delicate touch of spice. The palate is focused, full-bodied and full of flavour. Plums, vanilla, and cinnamon are complimented by a ripe fruit tannins creating a well- integrated wine with juicy texture and an incredible intensity of flavour.
Barbequed butterfly leg of lamb or lamb shanks or devine with this wine.
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