The Perth Royal Wine Show judges filed their results at the end of last week. When the tallies came in, Happs 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded the trophy for 'Best Cabernet Sauvignon' of vintages 2008, 2009, 2010 and commercial classes nationally. It was also awarded the trophy for the Best W.A. Dry Red Table Wine. Our 2007 Three Hills Merlot topped the Merlot class but only silvers were awarded. Both Happs and Three Hills Chardonnay were also awarded silver medals, and across our range there were several bronzes. See the end of this post for the trophy details and prior winners.
As a follow up to being the Most Successful Exhibitor in both the open and under 300 tone production class last year, you could say we're happy with the results.
This wine has just been bottled and would not normally be released for a year. Obviously there are enthusiasts keen to get their hands on it. As one of our valued subscribers we'll send you a mail next week detailing how you can reserve yours. Meanwhile you can find the 2009 Happs Cabernet here.
The cabernet for both the Happs and the Three Hills label is grown at our Three Hills estate in Karridale. To some it comes as a surprise that our cabernet ripens so well this far south of Margaret River. If one uses standard practices in the cool moist environment of Karridale, Cabernet is tainted with green flavours even though the fruit may be picked in late April or May. 'Standard practice' means mechanical harvest with narrow vertical canopies utilizing catch wires to keep the shoots erect. It also involves irrigation to keep the leaves healthy. This looks neat and green. We are different in both respects. We like to see the leaves go orange before we harvest. Our shoots and leaves occupy almost the entire row. Under the vines there is thick disorderly mulch. Thirty or forty pickers toil for five hours to bring in twenty to thirty tons in a day.
We hand prune the vines and hand thin to restrict the crop. Sometimes it pays to be old fashioned. The leaves need light and bunches need space.
Vintage 2010 was a tough year with lots of rain leading up to harvest putting pressure on people to pick early. Our wide canopy with well dispersed shoots and leaves dries out swiftly enabling us to hang on to the crop until it is fully ripe.
The Three Hills vineyard is an interesting place. When we were showing 2002 wines we took out the top gold in the Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot classes in the same year. This vineyard is an enigma. Ripe, full flavored wines come from a cool, damp environment. It has often been observed that very good wines come from environments that may be considered marginal and difficult.
We'd like to thank the excellent team in both the vineyard and the winery. Our winemaker Mark Warren loves what he does, and Andy Coventry at Karridale leads a big team very well.
Does Margaret River produce the best Cabernet around?
When I was a lad the best Cabernets came from Coonawarra in South Australia. However, when the Margaret River region was being established growers were excited by John Gladstone's statement that Margaret River had the climate that is 'typical of Bordeaux in a great year'. That's a big promise. Today, Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the best in Australia and perhaps second only to Bordeaux internationally.
Oh, by the way, our flagship reds are the Three Hills Charles Andreas, Shiraz, Merlot Nebbiolo and Grenache. We don't do a straight Cabernet Sauvignon under the Three Hills label.
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