News – Page 3 – Thompson Estate

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.


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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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Peter attends Australia Day Tasting in London

Peter Thompson recently flew to London to showcase Thompson Estate wines at the Australia Trade Tasting in London. Thompson Estate was one of 200 producers at the one-day tasting pouring a selection of more than 1000 wines to interested importers, buyers, sommeliers, media, bloggers and wine educators. 

Around 1000 people braved the wintery conditions to experience the exciting range of Australian wines on offer in the UK at the moment. 

Peter said "New contacts with the trade helped to extend our footprint in the UK with valuable sales leads for our English importer Thomas Peatling Fine Winesand Scottish importer Villeneuve Wines."

Running for over 30 years, the Australia Trade Tasting organised by Wine Australia is the biggest and most diverse display of Australian wine in Europe.  The UK and Europe are key markets for Australian wine and exports continue to grow.  Thompson Estate’s  current European exports include  UK, Belgium, The Netherlands, Finland, and Denmark.

Contact Nicholas Corke / and Kenneth Vannan /




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Last week the Annual Langtons Margaret River Wine Show was held.  For the second year running we received a gold medal for Four Chambers Pinot Noir Rose.

We also were in the nominations for Best Single Vineyard White Finalist.

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The Queensland Market

The Queensland Market

Our market in Queensland is expanding rapidly since the appointment of a new distributor, Select Wines.  Peter and Jane met their representatives and key clients in the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. A highlight of the visit was a boisterous and enjoyable Wine Press Club lunch at Le Petit Truffle, one of the top restaurants on the Gold Coast.

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