In many ways this is the wine that defines Woodlands best, despite not being entirely estate fruit. Now labelled ‘Wilyabrup Valley’, the perfect marriage of the classic Bordeaux varieties echoes the near-perfect growing conditions of the vintage and sites. The power and opulence of Wilyabrup in comparison to the rest of Margaret River in many ways can be cpompared to Pauillac in regard to the rest of the left bank. The demand for this wine has outstripped the supply and in mid-2015 the Watsons embarked on a search for a site and a grower they felt would meld perfectly with their ethos and style. Thus the Bantry Bay Vineyard was added to supplement the organically grown Woodlands Brook fruit. 2017 presented some unusual weather patterns throughout the region given the ‘new normal’ of warmer drier seasons. It was the coldest September – October in 11 years, which delayed the start of the growing season. Summer was mild with La Niña conditions keeping the temperatures low, avoiding any extremes of heat. Flowering was slow and late, around 2-3 weeks later than normal. With a ripening period more in line with the historical phenology of the region, this is absolutely classic in their fruit profile and tannin.
The fruit was hand-harvested and fermented in large stainless-steel tanks with ambient yeast. The varieties were kept separate from harvest to blending. Gentle pumpovers were employed for velvety textural extraction and yet extended skin contact still brought plenty of ripe and firm tannins to the final wine. After three weeks on skins the wine was pressed to French barriques and lightly sulfured. The wine aged for 14 months and the blends were made around the one-year mark. The final blend was racked to tank to settle naturally and lightly sulfured. The wine was bottled without fining or filtration.