Barry Weinman: 4th November 2015
The man behind the label is Will Berliner. Will hails from Mayne in the north-east of the USA, and has a varied background, most recently being a film-maker. Given the costs of establishing an operation like Cloudburst, Will was obviously successful.
Will’s connection to Australia, and wine in general is a relatively new phenomenon. Wills partner is Australian, and it was while he was on a holiday that he fell in love with Australia, and Margaret River in particular.
Photo Courtesy of Cloudburst Winery
After a few years of looking for the right location, the family relocated to Margaret River as a lifestyle decision, unrelated to wine. The location of the former cattle property clinched the deal, and the Berliners ended up with 100 hectares of farmland, which included 40 hectares of native bush.
Starting with stripped pasture, Will gradually built up the soil health, using organic and biodynamic principles.
The initial plan was to grow avocados but logistical challenges led to planting grapes, given the clearly evident affinity of the region to vines.
As a non-wine drinker, Will started researching and got completely hooked, taking an almost spiritual approach to the vineyard and wine. Will speaks with reverence on the establishment of the vineyard, as well as how he learned from others in the region.
This is a small operation. There are currently 1.2 hectares under vine, of which 0.5 hectares are in production! The first vines were planted in 2005, closely planted in short rows and small blocks. The first vintage was in 2010, with the wines being made at Woodlands, with the oversight of Stuart Watson.
Due to the family’s connections to the USA, the wines ended up on the wine lists of some of New York’s finest restaurants, which may go some way to explaining why the wines are the most expensive. It is only now that a local distributor has been appointed (The Drink Well Philosophy).
Photos Courtesy of Cloudburst winery
Cloudburst – Chardonnay – 2014. Very refined and elegant with hints of perfume and lanolin. The pristine fruit is the primary focus. The palate has excellent structure, with lemon, grapefruit and a touch of zest. The finish is almost chewy and textural. The acid is really polished and fine.
Cloudburst – Chardonnay – 2013. More complex and developed on the nose than the 2014, this is really attractive and interesting. A touch linear in the mouth initially, but the finish really fleshes out, showing grapefruit, and a touch of phenolic richness. Again, the acid is really fine, supporting the fruit, and helping to integrate the near seamless palate. Lemony fruit to close.
Cloudburst – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013. Very complex and deep smelling. Menthol, blackcurrant and shades of eucalypt all meld into an alluring nose. The palate is fine and linear, with a clear minerality running from front to back. There is an almost graphite-like textural component. The supple acid and tannins combine with the fine-grained French oak to suppress the fruit somewhat on the finish. Give it some air or 5 – 10 years in the cellar. Bordeaux-like. 1,688 bottles made.
Cloudburst – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012. Really interesting nose, with the minerality that is all about white pepper and Australian mountain pepper. This gives way to a core of ripe fruit. A lovely expression of Margaret River Cabernet. Fine and taut, with blackberry fruit over supple spice. The slightly chewy tannins add to the overall package, making this an excellent drink now or in 10 years.
Cloudburst – Malbec – 2013. Excellent purity of fruit on the nose. The palate shows ripe red fruits, plum, spice and textural tannins. Opens up to show mint, menthol and redcurrant that is plump and ripe, with a cedary oak lift. A succulent, delicious wine that is drinking brilliantly now. 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cloudburst – Malbec – 2012. More restrained. Fine, elegant, balanced. Silky and near seamless. The oak and tannins add texture and vibrancy to the finish, with fine acids carrying the finish. Will cellar well for a decade or more, but is delicious now. Becomes quite chewy with air. 422 Bottles made