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The 2002 Cape Mentelle Margaret River Chardonnay transports you to a breezy terrace overlooking a blue ocean harbor. The fresh and fruity aromas of the Cape Mentelle Chardonnay conjure memories of past summers and the pleasing, timeless fragrance of the sea. Perhaps a vision of the western coast of Australia, replete with breaks the envy of surfers around the world and a seascape speckled with billowing sails, will complete the image in your mind’s eye. On the palate, the 2002 Chardonnay refreshes with a burst of citrus that provides the mind and the palate with the appropriate spark to recall memories of easy seaside vacations, where the only exigency is to decide what wine to serve. And like all our best vacations, there is substance behind the shine of this Chardonnay as well. Long after the bottle has been consumed, the wine’s savory center continues to haunt the mind and palate with all that make the South Seas enchanting: tropical fruits, coconut, vanilla, and spice. And in the end, there is only ease and pleasure as the tannic structure of this Margaret River Chardonnay pleasantly balances and completely supports the mélange of fruit flavors brought to life by the Cape Mentelle vintners. A soft finish encourages one to savor subtle notes of oak and partake of the buttery, creamy texture with which this wine descends the throat. With its invitation to linger, both over the glass and over one’s own idyllic memories or imaginings, the 2002 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay refreshes and supplies a sensual reminder of the best the Margaret River has to offer. Serve moderately chilled (40º-45º F).
With winter upon us, let’s build a list of menu suggestions for the 2002 Cape Mentelle Margaret River Chardonnay that is sure to satisfy cravings for one of our favorite seasonal comfort foods, soup. Seafood soups and creamy bisques provide satisfying starters as well as main courses. Certainly, New England clam chowder and lobster bisque provide hearty and flavorful complements to the well-constructed Cape Mentelle Chardonnay. Yet, let’s be daring, throw caution to the southern winds, and journey to the edges of the Indian Ocean, which laps at the shores of the Margaret River vineyards. A curried mussel soup fragrantly seasoned with ginger and lemongrass offers the perfect complement to the 2002 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay. This soup highlights the citrus accents of the Chardonnay, while the curry marries well with the wine’s balanced core. We suggest the accompanying recipe as it is simple to execute and requires only a source of live mussels, which should be available throughout the year at local fish markets. If one lives on the west coast, however, a few well-placed phone calls may lead to a fresh-off-the-boat source since the west coast mussel season generally runs from November to April. If seafood soup is unappealing, try an equally satisfying and creamy butternut squash or potato leak soup. Regardless of your choice, allow the combination of soup and Chardonnay to satisfy your stomach and warm your soul.
Cape Mentelle’s founding dates to 1970, which makes it one of the very first vineyards in Western Australia’s now legendary Margaret River. This beautiful winery is situated between the town of Margaret River and the Cape from which the vineyard draws its name. The name Mentelle is in honor of two French brothers, Edmunde and Francois- Simon Mentelle, who in the 18th century became well-known geographers and cartographers: just one breathtaking look at this coast tells why they were honored to impart their name to such a far off place. To augment its natural charm and superb terroir, the Cape Mentelle vineyards are surrounded by landscaped native gardens that play host to an abundance of local birdlife. In short, Cape Mentelle is not only one of Western Australia’s most prestigious wine addresses, it is also one of the most beautiful.
The Cape Mentelle vineyards and winery were originally established by David and Mark Hohnen. Nearly four decades later, Cape Mentelle is a thriving four hundred acre enterprise that devotes its energy to the production of outstanding Margaret River wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and most recently Zinfandel. In addition, it serves as a sister company to New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay as both estates are now owned by Veuve Clicqout, the great French Champagne house.
The Margaret River is Western Australia’s hottest tourist attraction, and with good reason. It is home to Australia’s finest surfing and it harbors a friendly, urbane wine industry that caters to the increasing number of oenophiliac residents of Perth who are now more than ever willing to make the four hour pilgrimage south to this green shimmering corner of southwest Australia, where crystalline waters and high rolling surf offer Australia’s most compelling seascapes. Blessed with a spectacular unspoiled coastline, a mild near perfect climate for the cultivation of the vine, and plenty of space, the Margaret River wine region unfolds upon the hills and paddocks of this majestic land in and around the town of Margaret River and its meandering river from whence the entire area draws its name. Moreover, Margaret River wines account for the highest percentage of gold medal and trophy award wines in Australian wine competitions – a tribute to the Margaret River’s dedication to premium varietals, quality winemaking, and outstanding terroir.
In the early1960’s, a scholar named John Gladstone was the first to recognize and publicize Margaret River’s special climate, soil, and conditions known as terroir. In a detailed account Gladstone wrote glowingly of the similarities between the finest wine producing regions of Bordeaux and Margaret River. Moreover, he extolled the perfect weather of Margaret River for the cultivation of the vine, especially for traditional French varietals. And, indeed, Gladstone’s proclamation has proven to be more than mere wishful thinking, surpassing even his own expectations: In the past four decades the Margaret River has established itself as a world-class wine producing region for Shiraz and Chardonnay as well as the traditional Bordeaux varietals.
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