Stella Bella Margaret River Pink Muscat 2016 37.5cl  £14.95

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This boutique winery in the heart of Margaret River creates idiosyncratic named ranges like Suckfizzle and Skuttlebutt in a low interventionist way keeping their approach as simple as possible to allow their cherished vineyards to show their quality. It is not merely in the names where these wines are memorable, as once you have tasted them you will see why Luke Jolliffe, the winemaker, continues to receive recognition and awards from around the world for wines that have that wonderful Margaret River restraint and elegance, but are bound together with a fruit purity that makes them delectable.

Their philosophy regarding viticulture is simple, and that is to operate in a manner that consciously respects the vineyards that they tend as well as the local environment. Minimal chemical inputs and fertilisers are used along with minimal intervention as - aiming for vine balance. Stella Bella are acutely aware of the environmentally pristine nature of this part of the world and manage their vineyards accordingly. An example of this is their recent introduction of Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (the Australian Native Ladybird) to predate on mealy bugs. This has been a very successful natural control measure. Unlike almost all other wine producing regions, because Western Australia is free from Phylloxera, Stella Bella wines are all on their own roots, and not on rootstock, which arguably gives them a purer expression of the various cultivars grown and the respective sites they are planted in. Fruit is picked on a combination of flavour, vine condition, sugar/pH/TA and intuition. They pick across a spectrum of ripeness levels for complexity. Every block is picked and vinified separately for maximum blending options. Swards of rye and clover have been planted to help prevent soil compaction and to assist in fixing nitrogen. The vines are all trellised using Vertical Shoot Position (VSP), and are spur-pruned with the exception of a couple of older blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc that are cane pruned. Spur-pruning helps to ensure that the spur spacing results in the correct shoot spacing in the canopy, which in turn leads to well-exposed leaves and fruit. This results in them obtaining the optimum balance between leaves, canes and bunches.

The Muscat grapes are cooled before crushing in the press and remain on their skins for up to 24 hrs to extract colour and flavour. After pressing, the juice is settled bright, and then fermented cold with an aromatic yeast strain. When the desired alcohol level is reached, the fermentation is stopped by rapid cooling in order to maintain the natural grape sugars and the carbon dioxide gas evolved during the fermentation process. Bottling occurs in May of the vintage year, in time for a spring release.

This lavish, luscious Pink Muscat is made from the finest of the Muscat variety, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grain. The colour comes from the addition of a little drop of red wine juice. The wine is blushingly pink, sweetly fruity, low in alcohol and lightly fizzy. With a bouquet of rose petals and flavours of Turkish delight, rose water and summer berries, enjoy as an aperitif or as a palate refresher.


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