Winery in Focus – Xanadu
Part One – Chardonnay
Barry Weinman: 4th May 2016
When I think about producers of Chardonnay and Cabernet in Margaret River, Xanadu must now rank amongst the best of them. This is as a result of the consistently high quality wines that Glenn Goodall and the team have produced over the last 3 – 5 years.
It has not always been plain sailing at Xanadu though. The winery went on a roller-coaster ride; starting as a small family owned winery, expanding to the point where the venture was listed on the stock exchange, before collapsing and being sold off to raise funds.
This is where the Rathbone family stepped in, purchasing the winery and select vineyards in 2005. One of the key decisions made was to appoint Glenn Goodall as Senior Winemaker in time for the 2006 vintage. Glen had been assistant winemaker since 1999, so knew the vineyards well.
Whilst 2006 proved to be a difficult vintage for the region, the string of excellent vintages from 2007, combined with a slow evolution in winemaking style, has seen their wines hit great heights, with spectacular reviews from the likes of James Halliday.
For this tasting, I focussed on the two principle varieties of the region. There are a number of wines that make up the range, including Next of Kin, DJL, Xanadu, Stevens Road and Reserve.
The DJL was the starting point for the tasting. This range is made in a style that suits earlier consumption, reflective of the price point. The oak is dialled back, and the fruit is allowed to sit front and centre.
It is once you get to the Xanadu range that the quality really becomes apparent. Stephens Road comes from a single vineyard planted by John Brocksopp in 1989. This has 24 hectares under vine, including Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz, Muscadelle, Graciano and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Reserve range is made up of fruit from the original Langan vineyard. Despite their relatively southerly location, Stevens Road and Langan are some of the earliest ripening vineyards in the district, reflecting the impact of microclimate.
All of the Chardonnays do not undergo malolactic fermentation and, since the 2013 vintage, undergo wild yeast ferment. Almost all of the fruit is from the Gin Gin (Mendoza) clone. All Chardonnays in the range get 100% barrel fermentation, with frequent lees stirring to give a creamy, nougat like texture.
The first vintage of the reserve was in 2008 whilst the first Stevens Road was in 2009. Both wines have undergone wild yeast ferment since launching.
Xanadu – Chardonnay – DJL – 2015. (17 – 17.5pts – $24). Clear varietal expression. Peach, subtle lees/oak influences, fine acidity. Not overly dense, making this easy to pair with food. The gentle lime and mineral notes on the finish add to the appeal. Near seamless palate transition, which is remarkable for a wine of this price point. Will fill out with a year or two in bottle, but why wait?
Xanadu – Chardonnay –– 2014. (18pts – $37). Quite closed initially, but a clear step up in terms of fruit concentration and depth. The creamy oak frames the fruit adding gloss and texture without overt flavours. Peach and melon fruit notes, with texturing minerality. Again, the palate transition is near seamless, and the length noteworthy. There is an immediacy to the wine that is charming. (Estate vineyards 80% with 20% from Wilyabrup).
Xanadu – Chardonnay – Stevens Road – 2013. (18.3pts – $70). There are subtle wafts of pineapple and tropical fruit on the nose, with less of the stone fruit aromas apparent. The structure and texture are quite different, with the fine-grained oak more prominent and the fruit just a touch suppressed at present. Struck match minerality adds depth; clearly, there has been more work in the winery. Lemon brûlée to close. This really opens and builds with air. Up to 5 years in the cellar will see this really fill out.
Xanadu – Chardonnay – Stevens Road – 2014. (18.5pts – $70). Perfumed and almost a floral nose. The palate is creamy, textured, supple and very long. The density is a feature. Again, the oak is texturing rather than an obvious flavour. More accessible than the 2013, but just as age-worthy. A lovely wine. (Due for release on 1st June 2016).
Xanadu – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2013. (18.5+pts – $85). Tighter and more zesty than the 2014 in a less-is-more style. This is relatively taut initially, but there is no denying the fruit quality. The minerality and acid drive on the finish is noteworthy, ensuring that this will live for many years in the bottle. This needs patience, but will reward in spades. Fantastic wine.
Xanadu – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2014. (18.7pts – $85). Subtle and supple nose, with gentle fruit aromas. Reminds me of a floral garden in spring. On the palate, the balance is outstanding, with the high quality fruit gently massaged by taut oak. The finish is very long and fine, the palate transition seamless. This sits in the modern style, where the fruit has been dialled back somewhat, but still provides tremendous enjoyment now. (Due for release on 1st June 2016).