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1999 Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
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- Closure: Cork
Tasting notes sourced from Cape Mentelle.
Grapes for this wine are sourced from the estate''s Wallcliffe vineyard. Planted in the early 1970''s, it has become the source of some of Cape Mentelle’s finest semillon and sauvignon blanc. A south-west aspect combined with gravel laterite soils characterise this vineyard. The predominant canopy management method is vertical shoot positioning with some Scott Henry training, both of which work effectively to improve sunlight exposure on the bunches. Irrigation is used judiciously to maintain balanced vine growth and a steady rate of ripening.
A cold wet winter with heavy rains continuing until September preceded a fine spring with light winds and mild temperatures. This led to a late but prolific bud-burst and flowering, providing a potential abundance of fruit. Early summer provided just enough rain and warmth for good vine growth after the later than usual veraison. Vintage started relatively late due to the larger than usual crop, but the slower ripening ensured good fruit intensity and balance. Heavy rain and threats of cyclone or two caused some concerns, but fine weather resumed to allow a successful completion to vintage.
The most drawn out vintage for our whites ever experienced in Margaret River. The sauvignon blanc was harvested on March 17th and the semillon on March 20th. Constant monitoring in our vineyards and a close eye on the weather charts were the key to bringing in clean, flavoursome, fully ripe fruit this year. The semillon was 22.0 brix and 6.2g/l acid while our sauvignon was 23.6 brix and 6.8g/l acid. Fruit arrived at the winery in excellent condition.
Fruit is generally harvested at night to ensure that it arrives at the winery in a cool state. A small amount of SO2 and a pectolytic enzyme is added before crushing/destemming and transfer through a must chiller to a tank press. The juice is gently expressed from the skins, with a batch of semillon receiving extended skin contact for further flavour extraction and to facilitate pressing. The juice is racked off gross lees and fermented between 15-20 degrees Celsius in French and American oak barrels, 45% of which are new. Half the wine is left on lees for 4 months then racked to a stainless tank while the balance is aged in barrel for 9 months for malolactic fermentation to occur. Our philosophy with the blend is to maximise fruit flavour while incorporating complexing elements from barrel and malo-lactic fermentation as well as lees management to enhance rather than dominate the intense fruit flavours of the sauvignon and semillon. Both batches are bentonite fined and filtered before blending. Bottling took place in January 2000.
Complex and piercing aromas of nettles, sunflowers and ripe apples are underpinned by oak-derived vanillin characters. The palate flavours are persistent and rich with a taut yet supple structure enhanced by crisp, fresh acid and a rounding core of fruit richness.