Dr Peter Pratten, Capel Vale’s founder is a Pioneer of south west Western Australia multi regional viticulture and wine making, planting vineyards in Geographe, Mount Barker and Margaret River.
Margaret River is a young region in the context of wine growing regions around the world. However the quality of the wine it produces has proven to rival the worlds best, the stand out varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Of course one cannot overlook the Bordeaux “Classic” white blend Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. Today the region is defined by an east boarder called Dr John Gladstone’s line which runs north to south of the cape and the coast to the west. Capel Vale was somewhat late to plant vines in this region; in comparison with Dr Peter Pratten’s contemporaries- a group of pioneering Doctor’s who started making wine in the south west of Western Australia in the early 70’s.
Margaret River – The Region
Margaret River sits in the south-western corner of Australia, around 270 kilometres from Western Australia’s capital city of Perth. A long, narrow region, it is hugged by the Indian Ocean on the north, west and Southern Ocean to the south. This stunning stretch of land is one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world, bestowed with ancient soils and a unique biodiversity: 80% of its plant species are found nowhere else in the world.
Its geography, soils and Mediterranean climate combine to create ideal grape-growing conditions – heavy winter rainfalls, cool summer sea breezes that give vibrancy to the fruit and a long, dry ripening season capable of growing outstanding Chardonnay and ripening Cabernet Sauvignon right to the end of the season.
Capel Vale’s history in Margaret River
Capel Vale Wines commenced in 1974 when Dr Peter Pratten planted vines at the Stirling Estate Vineyard in Capel on Mallokup Road. (Incidentally, Peter was on the board of the Margaret River Wine Association back then as an active wine making member. The Geographe Wine Region, where the winery is, did not exist and the eastern boundary of the Margaret River Region, Dr John Gladstone’s line hadn’t been defined.) The second vineyard to be planted by Peter was in Mount Barker in the Great Southern Region in 1985. In 1999 after an extended search Peter finally found the perfect piece of land to plant grapes in the dress circle of Margaret River. The Scholar Vineyard was planted to predominantly Cabernet sauvignon as well as some minor plantings of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties. The vineyard is on Miamup Road in the sub region of Wilyabrup. The soil consists of laterite gravel overlying areas of granitic loamy soil which penetrates to the surface in the high ground. It has s South-west orientation with exposure to prevailing cool wind conditions. 2003 was the inaugural harvest for the Scholar Vineyard. The wines that hail from this vineyard have benefited from Peter’s pioneering spirit and passion for finding the best places to grown grapes all those years ago.
Capel Vale’s excellent Chardonnay is sourced from a southern Margaret river vineyard on Brooks’s road which is sufficiently cool enough to make a lovely, elegant, finer style of Chardonnay.
Notes on our current Margaret River wines
2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – has bramble and blue berry bush notes on the nose. A lustrous, soft textural wine with dark fruits of mulberry, black berry and cacao nib on the mid palette, followed by beautiful fine grip tannin that lingers at the finish. This wine is drinking very well right now.
2019 Chardonnay – a cooler vintage has given us a more finely boned and delicate Chardonnay than we have made in previous years. Longer than usual barrel maturation and more regular lees stirring has given us flavours of crème brulee, apple strudel and quince. With age hints of almond and hazelnut cream will become more pronounced
2018 Regional Sauvignon Blanc – has intensely complex collection of sweet and savoury aromas ranging from elder flower, blackcurrant bush, juniper berry and cucumber. An unctuous and layered palette offers flavours of preserved lemon, fresh cucumber and tonic water.
2019 Regional Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – this Western Australian benchmark blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes displays kiwi fruit and lemon grass flavours with hints of bees wax from time spent in French barriques.