Cape Mentelle

  • The winery takes its name from the nearby Cape, named by the French ‘Baudin Expedition’ which charted the coast of Western Australia in 1801. They named the Cape after two notable French scientists, geographer Edmund and his cartographer brother Francois-Simon Mentelle, who lived in Paris in the early 1700’s.

    Wine industry pioneer David Hohnen and his brothers Mark and Giles established Cape Mentelle Vineyards in 1970. Our phenomenal Cape Mentelle journey started small with just 16 hectares of vines planted on what is now referred to as the ‘Wallcliffe Vineyard’.

    In the early years David Hohnen experimented with grape varieties including shiraz, cabernet, zinfandel, sauvignon blanc and semillon. Many of these original plantings are the source of the distinctive wines that have come to characterise Cape Mentelle. The winery’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced primarily from the original Wallcliffe Vineyard.

    In 1983 Cape Mentelle won the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Award for the best one year old dry red wine, and cemented its position as a premium wine maker with another win in 1984. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is now widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading cabernets.

    At first the focus was on red wines, including a gutsy Shiraz. A turning point for the production of white wines came in 1985 when David Hohnen established Cape Mentelle’s sister winery, Cloudy Bay, in New Zealand. Cloudy Bay won world recognition with its Sauvignon Blanc. Cape Mentelle meanwhile developed a stylish Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend that was to become another benchmark of the Margaret River region, and a Chardonnay sourced from vineyards outside the estate.

    Throughout the 1970s and 1980s wine making at Cape Mentelle was characterized by experimentation to improve quality, understand the potential of the fruit from each particular vineyard and develop a distinctive house style. The character of the grape varieties and the special attributes of the regional terroir are part of the style that evolved.

    The area under vine increased with the establishment of the 23 hectare Trinders Vineyard in 1988 followed by the Chapman Brook Vineyard in the early 1990’s. By this time Cape Mentelle had a well established reputation in the Australian market. A partnership with Veuve Clicquot enabled Cape Mentelle to take the next step, further developing the winery with a new cellar and modern equipment and an expansion into the international market.

    Today Cape Mentelle continues to build on its solid foundations. There are more than 150 hectares under vine and the winery crushes about 1,700 tonnes of fruit from the estate vineyards and contract-grown fruit sourced from within the region.

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  • Cape Mentelle's wines are produced exclusively in Margaret River. The region is located in the very southwestern corner of Western Australia. Western Australia accounts for only a tiny portion of Australia's overall wine production, but the region continues to produce a growing share of Australia's fine wines.

    The Margaret River region is situated along the bottom of Geographe Bay, which gives the area a very temperate climate, thanks to the maritime influence of the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic current. The soil in Margaret River is composed of fine gravel beds over granite, which provides superb drainage and allows the grapes to fully ripen even in the region's cool climate. Bordeaux varieties, like Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grow particularly well in the Margaret River thanks to similarities between the soils and climate of the two regions. Margaret River also makes a fine place for growing Chardonnay, Shiraz and Zinfandel.

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  • Cape Mentelle responsibly practices sustainable farming, aspiring to organic whenever possible. Fruit for Cape Mentelle's flagship estate Cabernet Sauvignon comes from its Wallcliffe vineyard, located near the banks of the Margaret River. This vineyard was one of the first planted in the early 1970s. The site has quite a bit of ocean influence, located only four miles from the Indian Ocean and southwest-facing, making it a cool, late-ripening site. The canopy, which is an abundant growth of vine leaves covering the top-most portion of each grapevine row, is thinned by leaf removal and shoot training in the spring to enhance the ripeness of the fruit.

    Other vineyard sources include the Trinders vineyard adjacent to the Wallcliffe vineyard, planted in 1988, which provides the majority of the fruit for the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends. The Foxcliffe vineyard, located less than two miles from the Margaret River, is a warm site planted to noble red grapes, i.e. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Chapman Brook vineyard is a cooler site with heavier soils than the rest and is planted to noble white varieties, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

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  • Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
    Cape Mentelle takes a minimal approach towards this classic Margaret River blend. The aim is to preserve as much fruit intensity and regional character as possible, whilst providing a full flavoured distinctive white wine. The style accentuates the fresh fruit characters of both varieties with the added complexity and palate weight offered by a small portion of barrel fermentation.

    The lion’s share of the fruit came from the cooler southern half of the region, including our Chapman Brook Vineyard along with our other estate and selected contract vineyards. Various canopy management methods are used, with the objective being to maximize fruit flavour development. The typical soils of these vineyards are geologically ancient, free draining sandy loams with a high percentage of lateritic gravel.

    When harvesting sauvignon blanc and semillon the emphasis is placed on capturing vibrant fresh flavors with clean acidity. Fruit is harvested at night to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with around 15% of the blend fermented in a combination of new and seasoned French oak barriques.

    Pale straw with lime green hues.

    Punchy lifted aromatics of lemon blossom, black currant and papaya with subtle hints of fresh thyme and cordite.

    Medium to full flavored with a fine texture. Limes, apples, lychee and honeydew melon characterize the fruit flavors which are framed by juicy acidity, providing great length of flavor.

    Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon
    The icon of the Cape Mentelle range and widely regarded as one of Australia’s best cabernets. Firm fruit and well structured, a harmonious blend of intense berry fruit and cedary oak. The fruit sourced for this wine comes from the estate’s Wallcliffe vineyard, planted between 1970 and 1972, located 8km from the ocean.

    The fruit sourced for this wine comes from the Estate’s Wallcliffe Vineyard, planted between 1970 and 1972 and located 8km from the ocean with a south-west aspect. The vines grow on ancient lateritic soils, being sandy gravel over a clay base. Cane pruning, judicious shoot thinning and springtime composting promote vine balance and lead to physiologically ripe grapes well suited for wines of distinct character and longevity.

    Slight variations depending on vintage. For example, this was the blend from a past vintage:
    88% cabernet sauvignon
    9% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot

    The Wallcliffe Vineyard is harvested by hand. Fruit arrives at the winery where it is de-stemmed and lightly crushed so that high proportions of whole berries are
    conveyed to the fermenter. The must is left to macerate for a day before being seeded with a neutral strain of yeast. The cabernet then stays on skins for up to 28 days prior to basket pressing and filling the French oak barrels, 75% of which are new. After 18 months in oak the wine undergoes final assemblage followed by a light fining and bottling. The wine is bottle aged for a further two years prior to release.

    Dark plum, red currants, hints of sweet tobacco, chocolate and bay leaf.

    Bright red currants, mulberries, dark cherries, cedary oak.

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