Tasting these wines from Upper Reach is a salient reminder what the Swan Valley can do. With the obsession we have with the (wonderful) wines produced in the South West of our state, it is easy to overlook the quality we can find on the doorstep of Perth. And Upper Reach certainly shows that level of quality.
Derek and Laura Pearse purchased 4ha of vines at Baskerville in the upper reaches of the Swan Valley and established Upper Reach Wines in 1996. Derek came from a wheat farming family in Wubin and so was well equipped to develop the property. (I have always believed that if you want to know how to do something, ask a farmer.) Later, working at a wine shop in London, Derek discovered two momentous things – his passion for wine and meeting Laura. He had to start from scratch to get the vineyard in order, learning viticulture and then winemaking. There was some input from local legend, Dorham Mann,but essentially Derek is a true example of the ‘self-made man’.
Today Upper Reach fits the definition of a genuine ‘wine estate’ with grape production and winemaking [including bottling and packaging] all taking place on the property. Added to this is an award-winning restaurant and great wine-tasting facilities onsite and it is well worth a visit.
Upper Reach 2016 Verdelho
This Portuguese variety has an identity with our Swan Valley. It’s seldom seen as a straight varietal except at a few locations, the Swan being one of the best and this wine a good example. It’s fruity with tropical fruit aromas and flavours of lime cordial and a touch of honeysuckle. Shows typical textural fruit weight with an unctuous edge. Enjoyable now, though ‘the Valley’ variety has a record for ageing, so put some away for a few years. (RRP $20)
Upper Reach 2014 Reserve Chardonnay
Aromas show good fruit/oak integration. The flavours show stonefruit and nashi pear with a creamy, textural, layered mouthfeel. It has balance and avoids the overripe flavours often seen in warm-climate chardonnays. A nice wine. (RRP $32)
Upper Reach 2013 Petit Verdot
This variety is traditionally a Bordeaux blender but with its punchy tannins can, as this wine shows, make a good varietal wine. It is a late ripener (later even than cab sav) making it well suited to the Swan Valley climate. Scents of violets and plum are restrained but gradually open in the glass, leading to black plum and mulberry flavours. Nice balance. The firm, dusty, drying tannins and acidity will give longevity for 10-12 years. (RRP $45)
Upper Reach 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a great wine. The fruit is 50/50 Swan Valley/Great Southern-Frankland. Matured in quality French oak, the nose is a fascinating mix of primary cabernet fruit and slightly oxidative secondary fruit characters that need a little ‘breathing’. The palate is of rich ripe blackberry, sweetly fruited with nice oak integration. All-in-all an intense, yet subtle wine. Very alluring. (RRP $30)
Upper Reach 2013 Shiraz
I love the aromas here. There’s a complex mixture of white pepper and redcurrant. It’s perfumed, for me, is reminiscent of Cote Rotie in the Rhone Valley. It leads to a rich, ripe succulent palate of spicy redcurrant and raspberry. It has great oak flavours with grippy tannins and a clean acid finish. This wine is warm, welcoming and generous and will go for 12-15 years. (RRP $38)
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