Firstly, thanks everyone who responded to my post yesterday. I really appreciate all the kinds words and advice. Hopefully, I can deliver more of what you want!
Meanwhile, let’s talk about these Oates Ends wines.
Oates Ends is the brand of Cath Oates, ex-Plantagenet Chief Winemaker, who has grabbed some fruit off her Margaret River grapegrowing brother Russ Oates to make some wines. While that sounds like a likely – and almost overdue – pairing, Cath has been busy making wine elsewhere and much of Russ’ grapes are contracted to other Margs makers. The Cabernet, in particular, goes into one of Treasury’s top wines. It’s real A-grade fruit, from a top site in Wilyabrup.
Hence these first Oates Ends wines are tiny production. So tiny that for the Cabernet Cath apparently picked every grape herself – not many winemakers can claim that. End to end wine production indeed.
What is immediately apparent is that this is a classic marriage of top fruit and a winemaker who knows what they’re doing. Moreso, the wines are built in a style that I like – vital and understated. Again, the only issue is that volumes are so small (and currently available largely through the Oates Ends website).
Oates Ends Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
The runaway star of the lineup. Handpicked from the Oates family’s Wilagri Vineyard, this was sorted, hand-plunged and spends an extended time on skins, then matured for 18 months in barrel. A classic mid-weight Cabernet, the overriding story here is balance, with aromatics that include some regional leaf in amongst the blackcurrants. There’s a delicacy here that is just delicious, the unforced style what you want (or I want) Margs Cabs to taste like, and with those fine tannins that regularly come from extended time on skins. In context – and given the wine the fruit otherwise goes into – this is well-priced too. Best drinking: 2017-2030+. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.5%, $45. Would I buy it? You bet. A bottle for sure.
Oates Ends Tempranillo 2015
Margs Tempranillo eh? The few examples I’ve had can be tasty, Spends 9 months in older oak, though it has that Temp. tendency to look like it has seen more oak. Looks juicy too. Great purple colour. Lovely red berry fruit and fine dusty tannins to match. Again, surprisingly elegant despite the alcohol warmth. It’s not Rioja – a much more ‘medium’ wine to be in that mode – but this has flavour depth of squishy red berries that even taste like Tempranillo. Easy to like and well made. Best drinking: 2017-2028. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $28. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass, probably two in a bar.
Oates Ends Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Handpicked, barrel fermented and spends 10 months in one-year-old oak (with no sulphur added until bottling). Curiously, I found this a little simple given the handling, with some barrel characters giving weight, but otherwise just crisp, lemon direct fruit, plus a herbaceous edge and a light, crisp finish. it’s nice and precise, but not quite the fireworks that I expected. You get the feeling that it might well integrate more as bottle age kicks in. Best drinking: 2018-2021. 17/20, 90/100+. 12.5%, $24. Would I buy it? I’d drink it, but prefer to buy in another years time perhaps.