Australia has emerged as a producer of discerning quality wines. It is not only south-east Australian reds that are turning heads, (all for the right reasons mind you), but also certain other regions in the country. Though they aren’t that easily seen, at least not in India, but some have the calibre to compete with other more popular and accepted international styles. One such region located in the south-west of Western Australia is, Margaret River. Though some may dispute this but the region does have identical geography, climate, setting, (the whole terroir shebang basically) to Bordeaux in France. Even the prime grape varieties planted are the same: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for reds, and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon among whites.
Watershed winery exploits the factors of the region well to produce premium quality wines. The winery is rather young with their first vintage being 2002.Since then growth has been rapid and they have managed to earn several prestigious awards and accolades. They have three levels of wines in their kitty: ‘Shade’ signifies the basic easy-drinking collection, ‘Senses’ is more concentrated a produce, and for those who like some serious depth in their wines may be taken in by their ‘Awakening’ series. Together they make for a comprehensive offering of their philosophy and wine styles.We tasted some of their wines here on home turf. Tasting notes follow:2009 ‘Shades’ Sauvignon Blanc SemillonPale straw colour with green tinge. Lively aromas, with fruity sweetness, of peaches, pears, white stoned fruits, eucalyptus, bit grassy. On the palate it was off-dry; fruity nevertheless. The wine had great appeal with good structure. Light-bodied with moderate acidity. The mouthfeel was creamy but aftertaste was brilliantly clean and crisp. All in all an easy-drinking wine.2009 ‘Senses’ Sauvignon BlancLight straw colour with green tinge. Nose was amazingly fresh and appealing. Fruity and vegetative character with notes of asparagus, green fruits, fruity sweetness, oil and perfumed touch. Dry wine with refreshing high acidity and minerally touch. Some indications of age were there, but not oak ageing. A palate-friendly food-worthy Sauvignon Blanc with good varietal typicity.2008 ‘Shades’ Unoaked ChardonnayPale lemon-hued young wine. The nose was clean and the notes, crisp and structured. Dry wine with citrusy notes – limes mainly – bruised apples, pears, gooseberries, all rounded off with a creamy mouthfeel and some earthy character. Finish was clean and moderately long. A simple Chardonnay but well balanced. Given how unoaked Chardonnays are rare but always on the verge of coming back into style, this could be a good wine to impress your vino friends.2009 Single Vineyard ‘Awakening’ ChardonnayBright straw colour, very Aussie. Great punch of fresh young oak with toasty vanilla and coconut notes followed by ginseng, straw, fresh green apples. Palate was dry with acidity prickling on the higher side. Oak tannins were impressive, tad under-developed yet rounded and balanced. Oily texture with creamy, toasted nuts, hazelnut, and some fruity undertones. Good with food, could be that special wine to mark a festive feast. This little number can easily add 2-3 years to its age but why wait?2008 ‘Senses’ ViognierPale lemon robe, hint green. Perfumed nose with notes of marzipan, English Toffee, strawberry coulis, with a lingering floral note on the finish. Dry wine with a clean mouthfeel. Acidity was crisp but not too sharp. The palate is simplistic: fruity, earthy, mineral, and citrusy. An everyday wine.2010 ‘Shades’ RoséBright cranberry juice like ‘romantic’ colour. Fruity sweet nose with an interesting wild character rose petals, pomegranate crush, quince paste, and oddly enough, betel leaf (think ‘paan ka patta’). Clean medium-dry palate with moderate acidity, and light, feel-good tannins. Alcohol is level, perfectly balanced. A no-nonsense, simple, party-wine.2009 ‘Shades’ MerlotYoung ruby colour with rims intact, thus, young. Simple clean fruity nose with some hints of spices and wet earth. Dry wine with developed mild tannins, fruity palate with cloves, cinnamon, and juicy berried notes. Moderate alcohol and higher acidity. Good entry-level drop with enjoyable personality. Drink now2009 ‘Shades’ Shiraz Merlot Cabernet SauvignonDeep ruby colour with fading rims. Fresh young nose with spices, red berries, plums and cherry notes. Dry palate with well-gripping developing moderate tannins, good structure and balance. Notes of pepper, plums, cherries, earthy, and dark spices with juicy moutfeel. Well made wine with everything in controlled proportion. Nice clean and sharp aftertaste. Won’t get any better, drink now or before 2011.2007 ‘Senses’ Cabernet Sauvignon MerlotAttractive deep ruby colour with fading rims. Clean developing nose with cherries, plums, blueberries, some earthiness, and also some chocolatey notes. Good oak contributing aromas of vanilla and toasted nuts. Clean, dry, medium-bodied wine with young
vibrant tannins. some Some notes of eucalyptus, a tad greasy, but still manages to display some fruit. Some sappy notes which may not exactly be inviting. The wine may benefit from some airing before service.2007 ‘Awakening’ Cabernet SauvignonMultiple award-winning drop. Elegant deep ruby colour with fading rims. Enticing nose with fresh toasty oak, cherries, earthy, plums, blackberries, blueberries, husky coconut notes. Clean dry palate with moderate acidity, balanced alcohol and developing tannins from oak as well as grapes. Aromas on the nose repeat on the palate with meaty notes and those of plums, quince, tobacco, and even chocolate. Impressive balance and complexity. It yells for food. Will age well for another 3 years or so.2007 ‘Senses’ ShirazAlmost opaque deep ruby colour with rims ranging to garnet. Deep musty nose with spices, jammy and trodden berries, meaty and yeasty touch, needs time to open. Intense dry palate with creamy moutfeel and gripping developing tannins. Earthy, dark cherries, quince, tobacco, leathery notes with typical black pepper backbone. High acidity and alcohol. Very sharp and refreshing palate with a long-lasting finish. This baby needs time to come around and will also taste best besides food. Will easily age for another 2-3 years.
The labels are simple, artistic, and smart and bring along a certain New-World charm. They are decipherable and the back labels also are well conceived. They give you ample information about the wines, their characteristics, and ageing potential, among other relevant details.The ‘Shades’ range wines have a company seal on the front label and a rather novice font. ‘Senses’ labels are more elaborate in terms of layout. ‘Awakening’ has a bold label with more focus on the title itself. The bottles also showcase the awards and recognitions they have won making them not only stand out but also the more favourable choice when seen on a shelf.All in all, the wines are good and so is their approach. The labels talk for themselves and are appealing enough to intrigue one to give it a go. With all background work well done, the only aspect to look out for is the what (price) tags are put on them, especially in the retail market.Watershed Premium Wines will soon be available in select markets throughout India. It will be imported and marketed by Mittal Vineyards