201703-mark messenger in juniper barrA number of factors contribute to the unquestionable quality of Juniper Estate wines. In particular, the superb gravelly loam soils which lay over a clay subsoil. This, together with the close proximity to Wilyabrup Creek, means the grapes are dry grown without the need for irrigation.
The ocean-influenced moderated climate together with these soils gives the Wilyabrup sub-region of Margaret River a terroir comparable to the great Bordeaux region of France.
Vine age is also important. Original plantings were in 1973. This parcel of land was from a subdivision by WA artist family, the Junipers, hence the property name and interesting wine labels. The vineyard was planted by Henry and Maureen Wright and it was known as Wright’s Wines in its early years. It is now is owned and run by Gillian Anderson. Another factor to the wines’ stability and success is talented winemaker Mark Messenger, who has been at Juniper for almost 20 years.
The wines are in several categories. The Estate series are top-end wines sourced only from the property and given careful hands-on care from vine to the bottle. The Aquitaine Rouge and an Aquitaine Blanc are made using a blend of the respective red and white varieties of Bordeaux. The Juniper Crossing wines are the other category (not tasted here), which consist of a blend of estate grown grapes with grapes from other vineyards across the Margaret River Region. They are good wines and represent value for money.

The Wines

Juniper Estate 2016 Aquitaine Blanc    (RRP $33)
The first wine tasted and it absolutely blew me away. This classic Margaret River blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was whole-bunch pressed to French oak and underwent a natural yeast fermentation. In so many cases these varieties when oak-barrel fermented result in heavy, cumbersome wines, but not this wine. It is bright, intense with a beautiful fruit focus. The oak adds some weight and complexity but it’s ever-so integrated. Great linear acidity gives focused taut flavours of Granny Smith apple with citrus and some green bean. The clean acid backbone holds it all together giving a great finish on the palate.

Juniper Estate 2015 Chardonnay (RRP $40)
Fruit for this wine was handpicked in small batches over four separate pickings to maximise ripeness and flavour. It was then wild fermented and aged on yeast lees for 10 months in French barriques (50% new). As a result it shows nice balance, complexity and integration. Aromas of nashi pear and stonefruit lead into melon and pear flavours with toasty notes from the oak.

Juniper Estate 2013 Aquitaine Rouge    (RRP $37-$50)
A melange of all the Bordeaux varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot resulting in a savoury, red-berry nose with a slight bucolic, briary edge. The palate shows sweet fruit, grippy tannins and complex, slightly developed flavours of redcurrant and blackberry. Overall, an integrated, friendly, easy-to-drink wine which has a few years left in it yet.

Juniper Estate 2013 Shiraz    (RRP $37-$50)
Hand-picked in small batches, matured up to 18 months in French oak (40% new) then a barrel selection process to create the best-possible wine. I found subtle restrained black fruit aromas, some white pepper and cinnamon spice from the oak. The fruit flavours were overt, with black cherry, plum and a savoury, spicy complexity. This is a wine to follow over 6-8 years.

Reviewer’s Pick
Juniper Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ( RRP $70)
My wine of the tasting and no surprise given such a quality producer in a region considered by many to be the premium producer of Cabernet in Australia! Here the Cab has been blended with Malbec (8%) and Cabernet Franc (4%) to round out the flavours. The nose has everything one would expect – rich intensity, oozing with varietal blackcurrant and cedary oak. The palate has supple fine-grained tannins, wonderful sweet fruit – cassis, black olive, ripe plum. It is youthful at five years’ age, with the structure, acidity and power to go to 20 years.
Which Juniper Estate wines use the grape varieties of the Bordeaux region of France?

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