“Number 7. Lucky for some, especially if you’re the seventh son or need a break from creating the world but possibly more a beacon for change.
“The world has unquestionably changed and so has Nocturne. After six vintages Alana and I have parted ways on our dream wine project and in this edition, I go it alone and without my original favourite vineyard of Tassel Park. Now, a man after my own heart – with a build and a hairstyle I’m starting to emulate and a shared penchant for wine that comes in magnums – once said: “To improve is to change: to be perfect is to change often”. Yep, that was my boy, Winston Churchill.
“It’s definitely been a change and I’d like to think the wines have improved.
“Nocturne comprises two wine ranges: the Single-Vineyard or ‘SV’ range; and the Sub-Regional (‘SR’) range. You’ll see our SV Sheoak Cabernet Sauvignon and SV Forrest Vineyard Chardonnay in the New Year. They are as ever awesomely epic expressions of the best sites in Margaret River, albeit in the Chardonnay’s case a new site selection. These wines are so mouth-wateringly good it will make your pants tight, but alas they remain in tiny allocations.
“But let’s get to the business at hand: The SR range or SR4 if you will. Well, it’s pretty fkn awesome this year and there is actually possibly enough that it might last till Christmas. This is a very good thing as rosé goes with turkey like it goes with life. (And its possibly why I am festively plump.) Anyway, this range of wines, while ever evolving, runs a fine line between epic and awesome and I would be happy to fall either way.
“So, if the theme for this year’s Nocturne release is change, they are also very, very cool. The SR Chardonnay and Cabernet releases this year are from 2021, which was fairly cool and quite wet in parts. The hallmark of this growing season is an almost thoughtful elegance and an acid structure that frames and lifts these wines to some amazing heights. I like wines, the kind where you don’t notice you’ve finished the bottle and feel compelled to order another. This kinda wine is understated cool; it could be a thing.”
– Julian Langworthy, August 2022
SUB-REGIONAL (SR) WINES
2022 it was a pretty cool vintage – well, it wasn’t really it was actually pretty darn warm, but the wines are cool. In my book, rosé quite likes a warm vintage. With an 88% share, Sangiovese is the hero of this wine, backed up with 8% barrel-fermented Tempranillo. Then we chucked in 4% Grenache, too. Not sure why – just had it and it worked – and, as in the past, don’t tell anyone; it hasn’t made the label but it helped make the wine!
This wine is fine, ethereally light and delicious – I hate the term smashable as it sounds crass, so let’s go with this wine takes you too pleasure town. It’s what Ron Burgundy and Veronica Cornerstone would drink if they came to Margaret River.
The fruit comes from the sub-region of Carbunup, with the sites being relatively flat and warm, with fertile, red sandy soils. The Sangiovese was harvested on 17 and 19th March and the Tempranillo just prior on 10th – a touch later than the previous year.
The Sangiovese was simply destemmed, chilled and pressed using only the free-run fraction of the juice. It was then fermented at moderate temperatures using, as always, indigenous yeasts only. It was then matured on gross lees for three months post-fermentation to add additional texture.
The Tempranillo was handpicked and, after chilling, whole bunch-pressed directly to old oak for fermentation. Fermentation took four weeks, and the wine received a further eight weeks’ maturation in barrel. At this stage the final blend between Sangiovese and Tempranillo was decided, and the wine was emptied from tank/barrel, settled, filtered, sulphured and bottled on 14th July.
This wine, in keeping with the theme of SR4, is different. It’s more Sangiovese-based and finer than in the past. That said the texture and structure are impeccable. Those who miss out on a magnum of this for their summer “A” list super-yacht regattas hold their vinous credentials too cheap. It is, as always, a pale salmon dream best drunk wearing white xxx – Julian Langworthy
Treeton: It’s a weird little area full of hillbillies, dairy cows and interestingly, some great Chardonnay vineyards. Cold at night, warm in the day with deep silver-grey sands that we think produce special Chardonnay. This wine is a combination of two awesome Treeton vineyards: Grace & White and Victory Point.
OK, maybe you will be happy to hear it if you’re super sadistic but ‘21 was tricky, especially for Chardonnay. It rained and rained, and it seemed to rain some more. We had super high acidities that didn’t know when to quit. As such, botrytis ate more grapes than I did, which is unusual for god’s own country of Margaret River. While avoiding the rain we picked these grapes quite early for the season and the region on 25th and 26th February, some six weeks earlier than 2019!
The grapes were harvested by hand and whole bunch-pressed directly to new, one- and two-year-old puncheons, with a smattering of barriques for good measure. We did no settling or fining. This juice was then very carefully neglected and allowed to undergo spontaneous fermentation, which kicked off on day five after pressing. After a four-week ferment the wine remained on gross lees unsulphured until August of that year. In November it was emptied from barrel, settled, filtered and bottled.
This wine is, unsurprisingly, super cool yet different. It’s pale green, smells of white stone fruits and resolved sulphide and something non-Margaret Riveresque – something distinctly international on the nose. Maybe it’s season, maybe it’s terroir but it’s pretty fkn cool. As with every Nocturne wine the texture and flavour are to die for, impeccably framed by hallmark 2021 acidity and al dente phenolic structure.
Chardonnay is what Jesus made when he turned water into wine; it’s also why we winemakers have a God complex. – Julian Langworthy
Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll if you please. Cabernet is back, you know it, you can’t deny it… Suggesting Cabernet is tannic and unyielding while sculling three-year-old Nebbiolo always left me a little bemused. The long and the short of it is that Cabernet, AKA the greatest grape, is a vinous dream and makes some of the world’s best, most accessible wines. Tannin? It’s a thing and a wonderful, cerebral thing at that. Something to be celebrated and embraced. If ya wanna drink cordial, find some overpriced Pinot and marvel at its lack of complexity.
Yallingup is our stomping ground and where the world’s greatest Cabernet and Cabernet blends are being grown! It’s deliciously warm but never hot, with the amazing dual influence of the Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay. For this year’s Cabernets, we have again used our own beloved Sheoak Cabernet and added some of our neighbour’s Merlot from the Simpson property, with which we I am lucky enough to share the amazing valley. There’s also a little splash of their Malbec, too.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy, I lost hair, and the hair I had left went grey but we got there in the end… Inheritably elegant is how the ‘21 Cabernets should be described: resolved, gentle tannins with lovely, lightly framed red fruits and great length. It quietly asks you to take another sip, to eat some food to share with friends, lovers, co-workers and some dude named Frank.
We started picking Sheoak Cabernet on 7th April. Underwhelming at first, it’s a wine that’s grown in charm but possibly not stature from the start. Instantly perfumed but lightly framed, the wine spent 12 days on skins with a peak fermentation temperature around 28˚C. The wine was pressed to tank and settled briefly, before being transferred to a combination of new (20%) and two and three-year-old barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine was only racked once in this time and, after 14 months in oak, was emptied from barrel. At this juncture we decided the final makeup, which is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 % Merlot and 5% Malbec. These wines were then settled together, clarified and bottled.
While perhaps not a classic for the ages, I think – as Paul Keating said – this is the Cabernet we had to have. It has extreme drinkability and is a luncheon dream. Find me a steak-frites, a noisy restaurant and come on in, the water’s fine. A triumph of medium-bodied epicness, this is a wine so drinkable that light cannot penetrate its core. – Julian Langworthy