Pure expression with a sense of place at Fraser Gallop
When I was back in Margaret River last month, I took the chance to visit the Fraser Gallop cellar door which was new for me. I have been a fan of their wines since 2012 as they are so expressive and really reflect the minimal intervention in winemaking.
I had visited the winery a few times on a private appointment and then again at a Pop Up Barrel Room event over the June long weekend quite a few years ago. The cellar door staff which greet you are either Peter de Cuyper, Liz Hatherley or Michele Lane. I met with Peter who was very friendly and knowledgeable.
Set back from the road and the winery, the cellar door was built in 1998 and was originally Nigel Gallop’s and Heather Fraser’s cottage before the Palladian style mansion was built at the back of the property. After the cottage was renovated, it became the cellar door in 2014.
History of Fraser Gallop
The history of the award winning wines at Fraser Gallop started 21 years ago, in 1998 when Nigel Gallop bought all 165 acres of undulating land. Although 6 kilometres from the ocean, the land is affected by the ocean breeze as it is at the highest point in the Wilyabrup sub-region. The name Fraser Gallop comes from Nigel’s surname and ‘Fraser’ which was Nigel’s late wife Heather Fraser’s name.
Fraser Gallop’s neighbours along Metricup are well known including Cullen, Pierro, Moss Wood, Woodlands, Lenton Brae and Woody Knook. The first wine, a Cabernet was made in 2002. Today the range includes wines made from grape varieties best suited to the Wilyabrup sub-region in Margaret River; Cabernet, Chardonnay and Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc blends making a total of 12,000 cases (of 12) annually.
Winemaker at Fraser Gallop
Chief winemaker, Clive Otto joined Fraser Gallop in 2006 and since then they have continued making award winning wines and receive praise for their wines. One such compliment came from one of the most highly respected wine writer and critic, Master of Wine Jancis Robinson who stated that the Parterre Chardonnay is “Worth comparing to a Burgundy Grand Cru.” Jancis Robinson is also the editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine and co-authored the World Atlas of Wine with Hugh Johnson.
I was intrigued to find out more about Clive and his style of wine making especially his reason for making a dessert wine from Chardonnay which is so unique.
Q&A with Clive Otto at Fraser Gallop
1.Clive, what inspired you to create a dessert wine from Chardonnay?
Nigel Gallop requested that I make a dessert wine and I chose Chardonnay as it’s Margaret River’s iconic white wine and rather than do a botrytis style (not the right conditions being too windy in Margaret River) and rather than do cane-cut (all cane cut styles taste of raisins and don’t reflect their varietal traits) so I decided to make an Ice Pressed Style to make the “essence of Chardonnay” and very unique as no one else does it this way in WA.
2.Clive, you were quoted in the Daily Telegraph on 8 March 2008 as “The challenge given to me was to create chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons that are multi-dimensional with seamless complexity and elegance’.” What inspires you to create such award winning wines?
In the end it’s for almost selfish reasons I like to make wines that I like to drink myself, the challenge was going from a 2500 tonne winery (Vasse Felix) that got complexity in their wines by having a large number of different grape sources across WA to creating complexity in a single vineyard by using different fermentation methods with each batch and then blending those batches to create a multi- dimensional wine.
3.Where did the idea of a SSB come from?
The original idea came from Bordeaux, although mostly they are SBS blends, but for Fraser Gallop being further North the Semillon is more citrus and lemony rather than the Grassy, Snow Pea character they get further South in Margaret River, so SSB is the stronger blend and ages better in the bottle too.
4. It is unusual for a rosé to be made from Chenin Blanc and Muscat à Petit Grains especially from Margaret River. What inspired you to create a rosé from Chenin Blanc and Muscat à Petit Grains?
We did this mainly to get the aromatics and pale pink colour of the Muscat à Petit Grains to blend with the fresh acidity of the Chenin, but we are experimenting with a more traditional Rosé similar to the Provence style made from Syrah.
5.When and why did you start to create the top-level range; Palladian? How many cases (of 12) are you now making a year?
We made the first Palladian Cabernet Sauvignon in 2013 and the First Palladian Chardonnay in 2017. We make 160 cases of the Cabernet and 110 cases of the Chardonnay.
The reason we did it was to make the very pure expression of Cabernet and Chardonnay from the best rows of our single vineyard with minimal intervention in the winemaking by using the natural yeast and no additions. Every vintage tells a story of what it was like that year without interference with winemaking variables. The barrels are the same brand of cooperage puncheons every year too.
6.Clive, what are your hopes for the 2019 vintage (viticulture)?
With a late start by 2-3 weeks it’s looking like 2009 , yields are lower than expected so quality should be high as long as we can keep the hordes of silvereye birds off the fruit by netting (not much Marri blossom this year)
7.Do you sell abroad and where?
We sell in UK, Scandinavia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
8.Clive, what do you like to do on your days off?
I’m a coastal dweller so my activities are mainly at the beach, stand up paddling on waves, kayaking, fishing, diving, and most weekends get inland to go mountain biking. On wet days in winter- watching rugby and whiskey and wine tasting in the evenings.
Swanny Cellars is a big supporter of Fraser Gallop wines. The 2018 Fraser Gallop Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and the 2017 Fraser Gallop Cabernet Merlot were featured in the Summer issue of On the Vine. Call us or drop in to find out more about the range we stock.
Text written by Ruth, Swanny Cellar’s Roaming Reporter.
About the Roaming Reporter:
Ruth Turnbull is the Roaming Reporter. Having studied the WSET Advanced Certificate and WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits, Ruth has worked in the wine trade in both London and Perth for over 15 years. While living in WA, Ruth was a regular Panel member on the Liquor Barons Panel and managed the digital marketing for Swanbourne Cellars. Now based in Adelaide, Ruth focuses on meeting the winemakers and the people behind the brand in order to highlight and share their story on the Swanbourne Cellars blog and social media channels.