We had the absolute pleasure recently of introducing Passel Estate to two of the UK’s leading wine writers, Matthew Jukes and Richard Hemming MW, when they each visited the Margaret River Wine Region in the Spring.
Matthew Jukes published a comprehensive report of his visit to Western Australia in the UK trade magazine, The Buyer, and we were thrilled that he chose to include three Passel Estate wines in his ‘A-Z of Individual West Australian Wine Highlights’:
2020 Passel Estate Chardonnay: Wendy Stimpson, owner of Passel Estate, explained that a passel is a collective noun for possums. Wendy and her husband run a conservation program for Western ringtail possums on their property. Made from the Gingin clone and weighing in at 12.5% alcohol with zero malolactic fermentation and one-third new Allier and Vosges oak, this is a lean, energetic, keen-edged wine with stunning balance and poise. Sprightly, cleansing and perfectly balanced, this is a stunning new find for me and one I will follow closely from now on.
2017 Passel Estate Lot 71 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Made from certified sustainable, 100% Cabernet and subjected to a particularly long hang time in the 2017 vintage, there is not the obvious oak imprint or discreet green hints which I find on the 2018 Cabernet from this property, and this makes it a wonderfully gorgeous creation. Seamlessly smooth and with rather more volume of fruit than I expected, there is tenderness here, and the careful winemaking shows off the Houghton clone of Cabernet to a tee. It is also drinking well now at six years old, which was a rarity on this trip, given that most reds were at least a couple of years younger.
2018 Passel Estate Lot 71 Reserve Syrah Margaret River: Made from 29-year-old vines and sporting a robust 14% alcohol, there is a genuine earthy tang here derived from hand-picked fruit that is treated to ‘whole-bunch-cake’ treatment, and this layering of stems and fruit imbues both plush fruit and thrilling acidity in the core of this wine. There is Barbera-like, plummy purity here and with one-third new 500L puncheons employed, there are some direct carpentry tones on board, and with peppery spice completing the picture, this is a gorgeous, modern wine which is perhaps not necessarily a classic Syrah, but it is certainly a Passel Estate GPS-centric wine.
Richard Hemming MW, through his visit to the region, sought to answer the question: “Is Margaret River Chardonnay really the best Chardonnay in the world, capable of beating Burgundy?”
His report published on jancisrobinson.com concludes that “on that particular fruit day, it was – and any sceptics should taste the evidence for themselves”.
Awarding the 2020 Passel Estate Chardonnay an outstanding 17 points, Richard gave it this joyful review:
“Gorgeous spiciness on the nose – really playful, reductive and leesy style. Toffee, baked apple, caramel, all the elements of Aussie Chardonnay that makes it so loveable. Cynics begone! This is what Chardonnay should be all about – pure enjoyment.”
Richard posted some additional reviews of Passel Estate wines in his round up following his Margaret River tour earlier this month, including these fabulous examples:
2021 Passel Estate Sauvignon Blanc: Wow, that’s good – there’s a flinty, reduced note here. Excellent guava and lemon-juice fruit, none of the candied character of Marlborough or Napa. Tastes like it has leesiness and/or oak involved (there is barrel fermentation, in fact, in 20% new oak – after which, the barrels are used for Cabernet Sauvignon). 16.5 Points.
2018 Passel Estate Lot 71 Reserve Syrah:More nuanced and perfumed than their Passel Estate Shiraz. Super-fine tannins with plenty of fruit density in a floaty-dress sort of way – weightless yet substantial. 17 Points.
2018 Passel Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Black-cherry fruit, velvet tannin, fine and balanced with great purity of fruit. Fennel and aniseed on the palate with a chalky mouthfeel on the length. 16.5 Points
We recommend pouring a glass of one of these beautiful wines, and settling down to read the in-depth regional wine reports of these esteemed critics, which can be found at the links below: