What's happening in the winery

Paul is busy blending the aromatic whites (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends) and filtering the Rosé in preparation for bottling. The Chardonnay barrels are tasted, stirred and topped every 2-3 weeks to add complexity to the wines. The flavours coming from the different Chardonnay batches are sensational.

The first wine to be bottled from the 2020 vintage will be our very popular Four Chambers Rosé. This wine is made from Pinot Noir with a small dash of Malbec to add colour. We have sold out of our gold medal winning 2019 vintage and due to low yields are only producing just over 200 dozen this year. As a valued customer and supporter of Thompson Estate we would like to give you the opportunity to place advance orders as we expect this to be one of the best Rosés we have produced. Winemaker Paul Dixon describes it as “a beautiful, elegant wine”.

The Four Chambers Rosé started off as a trial. We had a little extra Pinot Noir on the property a few years ago and owner Peter Thompson suggested making a Rosé with the fruit as the vintages have been too warm to make a traditional cool climate Pinot. What started as a trial has ended up being one of our best selling and most popular wines.
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The most important work is done in the vineyard

There is a lot happening in the vineyard at the moment. Damon Wanless, our young winery and vineyard hand, is busy spreading fertiliser, turning over and seeding the mid rows to improve soil conditions which is another step in our goal towards becoming a sustainable and biodynamic vineyard. Peter Kammann, our highly experienced vineyard hand, is busy repairing and maintaining any damaged trellising that occurred during harvest and cleaning up after the winter storms to ensure that the property is maintained to the highest level. Pruning has just commenced, the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the first to be pruned as they are the last varieties to ripen. An early prune encourages the vines to shoot a little earlier, so there is less chance the vines will be affected by weather events towards the end of harvest. We will leave it as late as possible to prune the Chardonnay vines to avoid early budding and the risk of any damaging Spring hail. We are lucky to have a great team who meticulously prune, train and maintain our vines to deliver the best possible fruit to the winery.

Making wine is an immense team effort and it really is the work done in the vineyard which makes the biggest difference to the quality of the fruit.
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Impact of the COVID lockdown and the introduction of seated tastings

We are pleased to report that Thompson Estate has managed to retain its core team during the COVID crisis. The various phases of the lockdown have been managed by Tracey and Jayne in the cellar door, including the option of drive through sales. The full complement of cellar door/office staff will be complete when Mel returns from maternity leave shortly.

The recent introduction of seated tastings has been very well received by our cellar door visitors and look like they will be a permanent feature post COVID. We are looking forward to a busy influx of visitors with the recent easing of travel restrictions. You will receive a warm welcome on your next visit to our Cellar Door. For those who have not visited, here is the map to show our location.

In the meantime, on-line or phone sales are readily accessible via the following link www.thompsonestate.com or by phone call to Tracey or Jayne in the Cellar Door on 08 9755 6406.

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Saint Martin French Oak barrels arrive just in time

Paul Dixon has selected a combination of different coopers, forests and toasting to complement the fruit from the Thompson Estate vineyard, among these are the Grande Reserve and Initiale French oak barrels from Tonnellerie Saint Martin

Twenty six new French oak barrels arrived at Thompson Estate just in time for the first fill of Chardonnay; the barrels literally came off the truck, were put on racks and filled straight away. Needless to say, there was a small panic in the winery that the barrels would not arrive in time as no one could foresee the early start to vintage back in September when the barrels were ordered.

The Saint Martin Grande Reserve is a major component for the Specialist Cabernet, along with some other select coopers.  The Initiale barrels from the Allier forest are used as a blending component for the Estate Chardonnay. This year we are trialling the normal two toasts we use, Light Long and Light Medium, with two different shaped barrels, Burgundy shape vs Bordeaux shape. The Burgundy shape is a shorter but wider barrel which means there is more wine to lees contact to produce a more textural and complex wine. 

Grande Reserve is an iconic, classical barrel made from wood sourced from the sustainable Tronçais and Jupilles forests.  This barrel is designed to accentuate the potential of powerful, concentrated wines by adding smoothness and depth at the end of the ageing process.  It is recommended for long maturation periods of 14-20 months.  In addition to being one of the main components of the Specialist Cabernet, the Grande Reserve barrels also contribute to a portion of the Estate Cabernet as well as the Andrea Cabernet Merlot.

Initiale is classically made from wood sourced from the sustainable forests of Allier and Vosages with the objective of adding great complexity on the nose as well as elegance and length to the palate.  This barrel type is suitable for ageing wine between 10-14 months as the oak integrates quite slowly. The Initiale is mainly used in the Estate Chardonnay with a small portion potentially making it into the Specialist Chardonnay.

Tonnellerie Saint Martin is a third-generation family-owned company with a history of skilled craftsmanship and a love of wine.  Hand crafted from the sustainable forests of Allier (including Tronçais), Jupilles and Vosages they are renowned for producing barrels of great complexity and character.

Source: https://www.tonnelleriesaintmartin.com/

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Margaret River experiences an exceptional 2020 vintage

The consensus among local winemakers and vignerons is that the 2020 vintage is going to be one of the best yet.  Thompson Estate’s winemaker, Paul Dixon said “With the lack of any heat waves during the critical ripening period for the whites, the fruit will be of the highest quality. The handpicked fruit from the ‘Specialist’ selected section of the Chardonnay block is by far the best I have ever seen.”

In addition to the exceptional quality, Paul said “Warm, dry conditions in November and December have resulted in the earliest vintage I have experienced.  With 27 vintages under my belt in the Margaret River region, the next earliest vintage was in 2007 which started on 6 February.

The hand picking of the Pinot Noir for the Four Chambers Rosé and Chardonnay for the Specialist occurred in the last week of January which is about four weeks earlier than last year."

Owner, Peter Thompson reported “Yields are low this year but the fruit quality is excellent with the grapes showing great flavour concentration and a good acid backbone.  We are also seeing prolific marri blossom flowering which is helping to keep the birds out of the vineyard.”

Margaret River’s maritime climate usually provides a high winter rainfall and an even temperature during the growing season.  These factors combine to produce wines with outstanding flavour as well as structure and balanced acidity. The 2019-20 growing season was relatively dry.  Apart from plentiful rainfall during June, other months had significantly lower rainfall than average (see chart courtesy Bureau of Meteorology), explaining the low yields but encouraging intensity of flavour for the 2020 vintage.


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