‘Clémentine’ is to ‘Woodlands Brook Vineyard’ what ‘Margaret’ is to the ‘Woodlands Estate Vineyard’ – a premium Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend. 2015 was the first vintage, named after Andrew and Marie’s daughter, who was born that same year. The Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were already planted when the Watson’s purchased the vineyard in 2008. Close-planted, spur-pruned, and in need of a little TLC, the wines produced initially were tannic. Over the years the vines have been converted to cane pruning, which softens the tannins and creates a more balanced canopy and fruit set. A block of Cabernet Sauvignon was in a gravelly meadow of the vineyard in 2009, and these vines were brought up cane pruned and unirrigated. It took them longer to produce, but the fruit that arrived was fantastic – powerful, dark and perfumed – and is the soul of this brilliant blend. 2017 was a year that had very unusual weather patterns throughout the region. Winter was very wet, Spring was bitterly cold, and Summer was mild. La Niña conditions resulted in a longer flowering and growing period across Margaret River, roughly 2-3 weeks later than normal (this is actually more in line with the historical phenology of the region). Heavy rains came through in late February for a few weeks, delaying the harvest further – Cabernet Sauvignon was not harvested until the end of April!. Given the cooler vintage and summer rains it was surprising to see some of the darkest berries that have ever come off of the estate and really alluring aromatics.
This grapes were hand-harvested and sorted by a state-of-the-art gravity fed system. Once sorted, the fruit was delivered to the destemmer by a vibrating hopper. Once gently destemmed, the fruit passed through a set of rollers to remove leaves and stalks, then sorted a second time by hand on the sorting table. The fruit was fermented with ambient yeast in a combination of upright conical open-top oak fermenters and stainless-steel tanks. After between 10-14 days of fermentation and extended aging on the skins, the wine was pressed though the Cabernet Sauvignon remained on the skins for an addition two weeks for added complexity and tannin integration. The wine was pressed directly to French barriques, of which a little more than one-third were new, and aged by variety. The wine was racked and sulfured the following summer and then sent back to barrel. After a total of 16 months of aging the blends were made and the wine was assembled, then racked back to tank to settle naturally. It was bottled without fining or filtration and just another small addition of sulfur.