It’s been several years since we tasted wines in Australia’s Margaret River region, so when we learned that winemaker Bruce Dukes was visiting Washington DC we jumped at the chance to sit down with him to taste his wines. Bruce is a UC Davis graduate with decades of winemaking experience, including several years at Francis Ford Coppola’s Niebaum-Coppola winery in California and the Pierro Winery in Australia. As our tasting notes below show, he is a talented winemaker who crafts very flavorful and balanced wines.
Australia’s Margaret River wine region is bordered by the Indian and Great Southern Oceans, providing a maritime climate of cool wet winters and warm dry summers. It offers particularly propitious conditions for growing very flavorful grapes with excellent acidity and aging capacity. Margaret River has about 5 thousand hectares (12 thousand acres) under vine, mostly planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.
US Importer: Artisans & Vines; UK Importer: Hayward Bros.
Tasting Notes and Reviews
Domaine Naturaliste 2015 Chardonnay Margaret River ($20) 90 Rich Chardonnay fruit with hints of flint appear on the nose and are picked up again on a well-balanced palate. The fruit component is especially clean and bright with brisk acidity. A nice rich extract shows on the finish. Made from the Margaret River low-yielding Gingin clone, which winemakers like for its flavor intensity, attributable in part to its susceptibility to scatter. Matured 7 months in used French oak. An unusually good Chardonnay for the price.
Domaine Naturaliste 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River ($20) 89 This nicely priced Cabernet offers plenty of flavor and a nice, silky mouth feel. It reveals generous flavors of plum and berries and appealing suggestions of garden herbs. The finish is long and symmetrical. The fruit comes from Wilabrup and the Cowaramup area just south of it. Matured in used French oak for one year.
Domaine Naturaliste 2015 Syrah Margaret River ($20) 90 Here’s the perfect wine for burgers and ribs slowly cooked on the grill. It offers a heady perfume of lifted blackberry and violet aromas, followed by intense black raspberry and blackberry flavors complemented by notes of garrique and spice. Vinified with 100% whole berries in open top fermenters at low temperatures and matured in used French oak.
Direction Range (available in 2018)
Domaine Naturaliste 2015 Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Margaret River ($30) 93 One of our favorite wines from Domaine Naturaliste, this blend of 3 parts Sauvignon Blanc to 1 part Semillon offers an enticing interplay between fruit and acidity on a firm, deeply flavored palate. Green fig, lemon citrus, and a touch of gooseberry all put in a show, but it’s the finesse of the palate that’s most appealing. Fermented and aged 10 months in 500L puncheons, about 1/3 new and lightly toasted. Outstanding white Bordeaux blend!
Naturaliste 2015 Rebus Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River ($30) 92 The Rebus is a big step up from the Discovery Range Cabernet. It offers blackberry, mulberry and dried herbs on a lively bouquet. Thick, concentrated, ripe, inky fruit shows on a silky textured palate. Outstanding value! Sourced from the Wilyabrup region and aged 14 months in 40% new French oak.
Flagship Range (not yet imported to the US)
Domaine Naturealiste 2015 Artus Chardonnay Margaret River ($60) 94 This is a finely focused, flinty Chardonnay with the extraordinary precision and minerality one finds in Grand Cru Chablis. Gunflint, orange zest, and lemon show on the nose and are repeated on a dense, crisp palate that sizzles with energy. A youthful wine that will only get better over time. Made from the Gingin clone grown in the cool southern end of Margaret River, goes through full malo, and aged 10 months in 40% new French oak. Quite simply, an outstanding wine.
Domaine Naturaliste 2014 Morus Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River ($79) 93 Saturated ruby. Rich cassis and mulberry fruit permeates this very flavorful and well proportioned Cabernet from the Margaret River. It reveals a full-bodied palate of sweet, expansive fruit and the deft use of oak. A single vineyard wine planted to the Roche clone planted 35+ years ago. Aged 14 months in 52% new barrels.