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The History

The vineyard is a family owned business that is operated by principals Jeff and Vicki Dewar, who bought the picturesque 180-hectare hillside property in 1996. From day one, the family shared a vision to produce premium quality varietal wines for both domestic and international markets.

The Estate is located in a hidden jewel of the winemaking region of south-west Western Australia called the Ferguson Valley. The environment, climate and soil types sets the area apart from the more traditional wine growing regions of the state and provides an environmental combination never previously utilised for the production of premium wines.

Willow Bridge Estate is an exciting and significant new addition to the World Wine Industry. In less than a decade, the Estate has produced an impressive array of outstanding wines, most notably the classic Black Dog Shiraz.

The Region

The scenic Ferguson Valley is located just 20 minutes from the city of Bunbury. Soil types vary from deep limestone sands closer to the coast, to alluvial soils along the riverbanks and rich, gravelly, red granite loams towards the Darling Ranges.

The region has a mild, maritime climate. Annual rainfall is around 800mm and mostly falls during winter via cold fronts that originate in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. This makes the rain some of the purest and cleanest in the world.

Diurnal variations are moderate, tempered by the proximity to the coast, with only the occasional winter frost, which helps achieve adequate winter dormancy for the vines. Rainfall is rare after mid-November and the region usually experiences an Indian Summer until the Autumn break at the end of April, ensuring perfect ripening conditions for the vines.

The Vineyard

Willow Bridge vineyard is sited high on the western watershed (280m) of the Ferguson River, with spectacular views over the coastal plains. The vineyard is 25km from the coast as the crow flies, and receives the cooling afternoon sea breeze during summer. Due to its elevation, the warm days are moderate and more forgiving.

The vines are planted on the top of the ridge line, which helps to avoid the likelihood of spring frosts. Importantly, the region is phylloxera free and this has enabled the vineyard to be planted on its own roots. Deep red clay loams with granite gravels form the basis of soil composition. In places, the vineyard actually has granite stones protruding through the surface. To maximise the wine growing potential of this distinct terrain, specific varieties have been selected for planting.

These include Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The Winemaker

The appointment of respected winemaker David Crawford has been another vital part of ensuring the family’s vision comes to fruition. Incorporating the highest standards of quality control, and a state of the art winery that is capable of handling up to 1200 tonnes from the estate plantings, the wine styles are classic Australian, with fresh up-front fruit, soft elegant mid-palates and good length of fruit flavours.

 

2012 Dragonfly Cabernet Merlot

 

James Halliday 2015 Rating:93 points

Style: Medium to full bodied with juicy dark berry fruits, yet with plushness and sophisticated elements well above its price tag.

Tasting Note

Appearance: Dark cherry / garnet red. Purple hints.

Nose: Highly perfumed in its youth with lavender, and citrus peel elements. Behind that is classic cassis from the Cabernet and some earthy undergrowth characters from the Merlot.

Palate: Medium to full bodied, with a sweet juicy and expansive front palate. Serious, ripe and nutty structural tannins fill out the middle and a twist of blood-orange acidity fresh-ens up the finish.

Cellaring: Drinking very well from release, but for those who appreciate maturity, it should happily reward cellaring past 2018.

 

 

2012 Dragonfly Shiraz

 

James Halliday 2015 Rating: 94 points

Style: Soft, juicy and generous with a twist of spice.

Tasting Note

Appearance: Vibrant mid to deep purple.

Nose: High tone mocha oak overlies a spectrum of dark berry fruits and a range of savoury umami characters.

Palate: Rich and smoky to start, but packed full of sweet, jubey raspberry and Satsuma plums. A rich and ripe, nutty tannin structure hold it together with a twist of spice on the finish.

Cellaring: Drinking very well from release, but for those who appreciate maturity, it should happily reward cellaring past 2018.

 

 

 

2013 Dragonfly Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

 

Style: More floral and less tropical than previous years, but just as crisp and refreshing.

Tasting Note

Appearance: Pale straw with hints of green.

Nose: Delicate florals (Jasmine? Frangipani?) and some bath salt minerality. Some tropical fruits, but less than normal - lime the dominant fruit. Snowpeas and fennel provide the greens.

Palate: Light and tangy with lime and grapefruit flavours. The texture is dry and quartzy with some spice and citrussy acid drawing out the finish.

Cellaring: It is probably best enjoyed as a young wine - within three years of vintage - when its vibrant aromatics and clean, fresh fruits are at their most expressive.

 

 

2013 Dragonfly Chardonnay

 

James Halliday 2015 Rating:93 points

 

Style: Youthful, pretty, fruit driven and refreshing, yet distinctly 'Chardonnay'.

 

Tasting Notes June 2013

 

Appearance: Pale straw with lime edges.

 

Nose: White flowers dominate at this young stage, with some musk and plenty of classic citrus and stonefruit there also. Hints of spice and seaspray lurk in the background.

 

Palate: Medium bodied, with a fine oatmeal texture. White fleshed stone fruits with light fresh cream are followed by hints of ginger and spice with a twist of citrus acidity on the finish.

 

Cellaring: It is made to be enjoyed whilst young and fresh, yet will reward a few years in the cellar for those who appreciate the characters which come with maturity.

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Gravel Pit Shiraz2012 Shiraz

 

James Halliday 2015 Rating: 96 points

 

Style: Dark, spicy and brooding, it is full flavoured and complex, yet not too heavy on the palate.

 

Tasting Notes June 2013

 

 Appearance: Deep purple.

Nose: Serious - roasted meats, black pepper, dark plum, dark chocolate, young polished leather.

 

Palate: Lots of pepper and 'dark' spice / roasted meats to start. It's not too thick and heavy but has plenty of fine tannins through the palate, which seem to accompany roasted nut flavours also. Dark cherry and plum fruits come through also, especially with more time/air.

 

Cellaring: Will benefit from a big glass or a rough decant in its youth (to 2015?) and will reward cellaring to at least 2025, possibly much longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011 Black Dog Shiraz2011 Shiraz

 

Style: Plush and sophisticated yet without any excess baggage.

 

Tasting Notes June 2014

 

Appearance: Deep, bright purple / crimson.

 

Nose: Dark plums, prunes and dark chocolate are the dominant characters. There are some herbs and sweet spices playing a supporting role.

 

Palate: Only medium bodied, but the palate has iron fist in a velvet glove exuberance. Fruit sweetness, richness and a generous, but supple tannin structure make it complete.

 

Cellaring: It's delicious now (June 2014), but will definitely reward time in the cellar. Halliday says to 2036 and has pretty good experience with cellaring, so who are we to argue?

 

 

 

2012 Coat of Arms Cabernet Merlot

 

James Halliday 2015 Rating: 95 points

 

Style: Medium to full bodied with juicy dark berry fruits, yet with plushness and sophisticated elements well above its pricetag.

 

Tasting Notes November 2013

 

Appearance: Dark cherry / garnet red. Purple hints.

 

Nose: Highly perfumed in its youth with lavender, and citrus peel elements and some nougat like sweetness from the oak . Behind that is classic cassis from the Cabernet and some earthy undergrowth characters from the Merlot. A sort of ferrous character hangs in there also - one which we often associate with Cabernet from sites rich in ironstone gravels such as ours.

 

Palate: Medium to full bodied, with a sweet juicy and expansive front palate. Serious, ripe and nutty structural tannins fill out the middle and a hints of black coffee, then a twist of blood-orange acidity give a fresh, yet savoury finish.

 

Cellaring: Drinking very well from release, but for those who appreciate maturity, it should happily reward cellaring to 2020, perhaps beyond.

 

 

2012  Solana Tempranillo

 

James Halliday 2015 Rating: 94 points

 

Style: Medium weight and a little exotic. Dark cherry and fruitcake characters play against savoury notes and 'hungry' tannins - no quaffer, it demands food.

 

Tasting Notes June 2013

 

Appearance: Mid to deep crimson with some purple.

 

Nose: Fruitcake (dried fruits, spice and a hint of Brandy) characters are interesting given the modest alcohol. There's a lot of complexity behind them with hard cheeses, roasted nuts, dark cherries and a hint of cola.

 

Palate: The palate fairly accurately echoes the nose with sweet and ripe fruitcake characters counterbalancing the more savoury elements, some smokiness and some serious, corrugated waves of dusty tannins which demand some proteinaceous food to go with them. Tapas anyone?

 

Cellaring: It will benefit from plenty of air if drinking it before the end of 2014. It will both soften and gain in complexity with five to ten years in the cellar.

 

 


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