Howard Park began in 1986 as a micro boutique producer when John Wade, formerly from Wynns Coonawarra, crafted excellent riesling and cabernet from purchased grapes. Seven years later Jeff and Amy Burch took over the reins and the operation expanded significantly with the much-needed injection of capital. Vineyard land was purchased, wineries were built and production increased significantly.

Today, after 30 years, Howard Park owns premium plantings in both the Margaret River and Great Southern wine districts. Much effort has gone into improvements in viticulture with clonal selection, soil management and identification of important blocks within each vineyard. Importantly champion winemaker Janice McDonald heads the wine making team.

I had the good fortune of getting a glimpse into her wine making and selection expertise at a tasting at the Margaret River winery. A number of newly vintaged samples of the various vineyard blocks were arrayed on the tasting table and the exercise was to identify the differences between samples and then come up with a blend that was the best expression of the particular variety, in this instance cabernet and chardonnay. My own final mix shall not be talked about but I can say that I learnt a lot from Janice’s conclusions, based on the wealth of experience that she brought to the tasting

The Wines

Jete Brut Blanc ($36 **)

With 94% Chardonnay, 6% Pinot Noir, this cool climate Mount Barrow vineyard fruit gives this wine a delicate flavour and fine cleansing acidity. Partial fermentation in oak and partial malolactic fermentation add to the complexity brought on by 30 months of lees maturation. Very fine bead, tight structure with flavour and a persistent aftertaste. Named Australia’s Best Sparkling Wine at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championship 2017.

2018 Riesling Mount Barker $34*

Vintaged from Mount Barrow vineyard at up to 370m elevation. Lifted citrus honeysuckle and lychee aromas. Full fruited with a whiff of lemon curd and a fine steely structure that finishes long. A classic Mount Barker Riesling drinking beautifully now as aperitif or accompanying seafood. Will handle spicy Asian dishes. Can be cellared for 10 years, easily. (12% alcohol).

2018 Allingham Chardonnay ($89 ***)

This is the flagship white named in honour of the late Muriel Allingham, mother and grandmother to the Burch family. Produced from the best blocks of the Allingham vineyard, situated in the cool Karridale subdistrict, the most southerly part of the Margaret River appellation. Initially reserved, then opens out in the glass to reveal ripe white peach and honeysuckle held together by energising acidity and restrained sophisticated French oak. A very long finish gives it the stamp of high quality. Good now but better in a year or two. (13% alcohol).

2018 Miamup Rose ($28)

Made from Shiraz grapes grown on the Leston vineyard at Wilyabrup. Lightly pressed and partially oak fermented. Pale salmon in colour. Rose petals and red fruits with a touch of tannin make for a refreshing summer drink. Finishes dry. (13% alcohol).

2016 Flint Rock Shiraz ($32)

Made from Great Southern fruit which encompasses Mount Barker, Frankland and the Porongurups. A ripe plummy shiraz with overtones of spice and liquorice. Well rounded, supple palate and a pleasing, clean sumptuous finish. (14.5% alcohol).

2016 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)

Made exclusively from selected parcels of the Leston Vineyard in Wilyabrup. The wine opened up with time in the glass. Classic cabernet cassis emerges with added touches of earth, black olive and dark chocolate. Lots of fine-grained tannin which matches and balances the intensity of the fruit. A good example of fine Margaret River Cabernet. Will age 10 years easily. (14.5% alcohol).

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