Back in 2007 Apple released the first iPhone , a product that took the world by storm. The Melbourne Storm won not only the minor premiership but also the grand Finals when they defeated, or should I say embarrassed, Manly 34-8.
And over in WA’s Geographe Bay, the area that leads into the Margret River area, the Towner family were setting up a little winery called Flametree Wines were opening their doors, and immediately set about creating award winning wines. The winery first popped up on a lot of cork-dorks radars when their very first vintage, their 2007 Flametree Cabernet Merlot, won Australia’s most prestige wine award the 2007 Jimmy Watson medal. The next year they proved it wasn’t just beginner’s luck, and that they were deserving winners for the prestiguos award, when they became a finalist the next year with their 2008 blend. Since then they have gone on to win some pretty serious awards not just here but all around the world, and their 2014 Wallcliffe Chardonnay being listed in the Top 10 of the Top 100 Wines in 2015.
Their head winemaker, Cliff Royle, has a pretty impressive CV and award collection of his own too. Cliff had twelve years as Chief Winemaker at Voyager Estate, he has been a senior judge at the Royal Melbourne and Perth Wine Shows over a number of years, was awarded Winemaker of the Year by Winestate Magazine in 2003, was a finalist in the Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2005. His philosophy is to source from from growers within the Margaret River region, with a small amount selected from Franklin River in the Great Southern area of Western Australia. The Margaret River area is broken up into 6 sub-regions, with each sub region, and each vineyard within the regions having its own specific conditions like hours of sunlight and aspect, climate and type of soil, each vineyard, and even blocks within the vineyard, produce fruit with its own individual characters and flavours. As an indicator of the quality of grapes produced in this region, Margaret River accounts for only three per cent of the total grape production in Australia, however it produces over 20 per cent of Australia’s premium wine market. Picking the best parcels of fruit from those regions’ most exceptional vineyards gives Flametree the benefit of capturing the unique characters and flavours from each vineyard block. The principal grape varieties in the area are fairly evenly split between red and white; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz, Merlot. Certain sub-regions can produce more consistent quality grapes than others, for example using Wallcliffe for Chardonnay, Karridale for Sauvignon Blanc and Willyabrup for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Flametree have three levels starting at their Flametree Embers range, their mid range Flametree Wines range and their flagship S.R.S (Sub Regional Series) range.
Simply put, you can’t go wrong with these wines, they hit that trinity of wine-making, wines that carry flavour, structure and balance, all working in seamless harmony.
They can be found online or at your local independent bottleo.
A couple to grab:
Flametree Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015 – the 2016 wont be too far away from hitting the local shelves but in the meantime it’s the 93point, silver award winning blend that we will just have to force ourselves to try. Carries some herb notes, balanced with tropical fruits and an interesting wet river stone edge.
Flametree Chardonnay 2015 – great example of the modern style of Margaret River chardy. Pears, grapefruit and melon, subtle oak and great acidity. Chalky, steely and savoury in the finish and great length, at its best as it warms slightly in the glass. Will hold well in the bottle for the next five or so years too.
Flametree SRS Karridale Sauvigonon Blanc 2014 – the use of oak with sauvignon blanc is something that will divide a crown, I personally love it though, and the Karridale is a cracking Australian example. Passionfruit, grapefruit guava and pink grapefruit in there, the oak giving it a fantastic texture and a slight nuttiness.
Flametree SRS Walcliffe Chardonnay 2015 – this is a wine that should be in every wine collectors cellar, four gold medals and five scores between 95 and 97 points, yes at $50 its not cheap, but its also not something that you will drinking everyday either. White peach, a cashew nut creaminess, perfect balance between oak work and fruit. This is going to still keep winning awards
Flametree Pinot Rose 2016 – an interesting use of Margeret River Pinot here, and its working for Flametree taking out Gold for the best Rose at Royal Melb Wine Awards last year, and interesting techniques such as ferementing part of the juice on chardonnay lees, which gives it an interesting textural savouriness. Great pale orange colour, red fruits and sweet strawberries. Soft slightly chalky and dry finish which works so well with those red fruit notes.