Barry Weinman: 19th January 2019
Established in 1973 by David and Heather Watson, Woodlands
is one of the earliest vineyards in the Margaret River region. The original
Woodlands vineyard has a total of 10 hectares under vine, many of which are now
approaching 40 years of age.
In 2007, the family bought the 50 hectare Woodlands Brook
property which has a total of 17 hectares of vineyards.
Woodlands has gone through some directional changes over the
years. Initially, wines were made by David, but the focus shifted away from
winemaking in the early 1990s, to supplying grapes to other producers in the
region. During this time, a number of great Australian wines were made from
this fruit, including some vintages of the Thomas Hardy, as well as
contributing to the early Gladstones from Houghton.
Production of wines resumed at the end of the decade, with
Stuart Watson taking over the winemaking in 2002. Stuart is clearly a talented
winemaker, as the Cabernets (and lately Chardonnays) have been amongst the
region’s finest for a number of years now.
One impact of the break in production at Woodlands is that
the winery has not had the same consumer recognition as the likes of Moss Wood
and Cullen. This is clearly a bug-bear for Stuart, but is a bonus for
wine-lovers, as both the Woodlands Valley and Woodlands Brook ranges offer
excellent value for money, as does the entry level Watson Family range.
At the top end of the Cabernet range, the 2016 Margaret and
2016 Clementine-Eloise (due for release mid-year) are amongst the best yet
produced at the winery (although Stuart suggests the 2018 may be even better).
Watson Family –
Chardonnay – 2016. ($20). Nectarine and white peach stonefruit characters
combine with flint and minerality, giving excellent length and mouthfeel. Creamy,
textured and supple, this is a wine of substance. Made from Wilyabrub fruit
that is primarily Clone 5 (a variant of Gin Gin clone), the wine was barrel-fermented
and spent 6 months on lees. A complete wine that would be great with grilled
Chardonnay – Wilyabrub Valley – 2017
($28). Richer and more textured, with more peach notes than the Watson Family,
along with greater oak impact. The mouth-feel on the finish is a highlight,
with the creamy fruit building density and carrying right to the close. Gin Gin
clone, barrel fermented, matured in 30% oak (1/3 new).
Chardonnay – (Woodlands Brook Vineyard) 2017 ($39). Wow, a wine of great
presence. The fruit here is a highlight with ripe peach, creamy cashew nut, a
silky mouthfeel and excellent fruit intensity. From the Woodlands Brook vineyard,
and excellent value.
Chardonnay – Chloe – 2017 ($$110).
Complex white peach aromas over supple winemaking inputs. The palate is mouth-filling,
supple and seamless, with tremendous length and presence in the mouth. The fine
acidity, in combination with the oak and barrel/lees work adds depth and
texture, without adding overt flavour. A powerful, finely balanced wine made
from very low yielding vines.
Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Wilyabrub
Valley – 2016 ($28). Sweet ripe fruit is the focus here. Fresh, lively and
textured. Excellent drinking or short-term cellaring.
Cabernet Franc/ Merlot – Wilyabrub Valley – 2017 ($25). Excellent fruit
characters. Bright, vibrant and textured, with minerality and chewy, fine
tannins. An interesting alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon, and a great food
wine, as the texture and acid will accompany richer dishes very well.
Cabernet Merlot – Wilyabrub Valley – 2017 ($28). Tighter, more restrained than
the 2016. The density of fruit is a feature. Fine tannins and minerality adds
texture, and there is very good length on the finish. Only medium bodied, this
is a savoury, food- friendly wine that will do well with 5 years in the cellar.
Woodlands – Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon – Emily – 2017 ($39). A structured, age-worthy wine, with excellent length. This is a tighter and leaner style, with menthol, a touch of eucalypt and souring acidity adding drive on the finish. Excellent length to close, but this wine needs food or time in the cellar to show its best. Produced from a single plot on the Woodlands Brook vineyard from younger vines. 40% new oak hogs head and more skins contact.
Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Clementine
– 2016 ($39). The fruit ripeness on the nose is very attractive. The palate is
supple and delicious, with texturing minerality and greater mid-palate density
and power than the Emily. Also from the Woodlands Brook Vineyard, this
age-worthy wine had 40% new oak barriques.
Cabernet Merlot – Margaret – 2016 ($70).
From older vines on the original Woodlands vineyard, the Margaret has pristine,
bright fruit. Produced from a warmer, riper part of the vineyard, the palate is
supple, textured and silky, with deliciously sweet fruit. A delightful wine now
to 10 years.
Cabernet Merlot – Clementine Eloise –
2016 ($160. Pre-order via the winery). A superb wine that whilst elegant and oh
so fine, has great power and presence. Supple and textured, with very fine
tannins, yet this wine is elegant to its core. Needs years to show its best,
but a treat now.
Cabernet Merlot – Russel – 2015 ($150).
Matured for 19 months in new French oak. Any number of adjectives could be used
to describe this intense, powerful wine. Silky, supple, textured, powerful,
long, seamless. ; A superb wine.
Woodlands – Cabernet
Merlot – Matthew – 2014 ($160 ex
cellar door). A sublime wine! This has everything that you could want in a Cabernet,
and then some. Power, grace and elegance. A brilliant wine. 94% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 4% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Merlot – Heather Jean – 2010 (N/A). The power here is palpable. At 8
years of age, this is still a baby. Textured, chewy, long, fine, needs years. A
superb wine with a tremendous future.