The New Collection from Julian and Alana Langworthy
Written by Magdalena Sienkiewicz
Julian Langworthy is undoubtedly one of the very best of winemakers in Australia. Crowned the Winemaker of the Year 2019 at Halliday’s Wine Companion Awards and the winner of the prestigious Jimmy Watson trophy in 2016. Julian is the chief winemaker for the Fogarty Wine Group, best known for brands such as Deep Woods, Millbrook Winery, Smithbrook and the Hunter Valley vineyard; Lake's Folly. The gold medals and trophies that Julian has amassed over his tenure at Deep Woods are innumerable.
His responsibilities are vast and include the stylistic direction of all wineries and their individual brands. He mentors and manages a team of 12 winemakers and, in conjunction with the Group Chief Viticulturist, is responsible for all fruit purchases – this is in addition to more than 300ha of estate vineyards spread from Hunter Valley in New South Wales to Margaret River in Western Australia.
To Team Vinorium, Julian is best known for his magnificent Nocturne wines (debuted in 2015), which is a joint venture he runs together with his wife Alana, who also enjoys a successful winemaking career focusing predominantly on their very own venture. The two met as young winemakers in South Australia and have been producing their own label wines together for over 10 years.
The advantage of small-batch winemaking at Nocturne resulted in minimal exposure to the global market, which is a blessing as The Vinorium is the only wine merchant outside of Australia to stock their wines. Whilst Nocturne wines offer exceptional quality without the bullish price tag of a big brand name, the current demand is outstripping supply, but that’s a great situation for the pair. The initial three releases of their Single Vineyard wines have won them a die-hard following. So much so, that the most recent listings in their portfolio spent over 10 months with the annotation ‘sold-out’ across their website.
"We strongly believe Nocturne wines will become one of the leading names in Margaret River and over time will stand shoulder to shoulder with Vasse Felix, Cullen and Leeuwin Estate.”
I first met Julian and Alana when I hosted a private dinner for ten of our customers at 67 Pall Mall, London. It’s a stunning venue which boasts a whopping 26,000 bottles of wine and 12,000 hand-blown crystal glasses from Zalto. The private club is home to 2,750 members, 18 sommeliers and undeniably the biggest wine list in the UK. Their wine encyclopaedia offers 800 wines by the glass which is a world record yet to be surpassed.
It was a warm and sunny September evening when I arrived early at the club. The welcoming staff led me through the restaurant to the Marlborough room, which was set beautifully for the dinner. This oak panelled room enjoys great views of the Marlborough House and St James’s Palace.
The staff had already prepared the line-up for the evening. Nocturne Rosé and Chardonnay were chilled to perfection and the Cabernet was aerating in decanters aligned in a perfectly straight line while resting on the side board.
Julian and Alana arrived slightly out of breath, having underestimated the distance from the hotel where they were staying. It was their last night in the UK before boarding a return flight back following a super-busy week. Nevertheless, Alana was bursting with energy whilst Julian remained laid back as the evening progressed. One being the rocket and the other being the calming element…
Julian unzipped the packed sport bag he was carrying over his shoulder to reveal a few extra treats for the evening – a little taster of the new vintage 2018 Single Vineyard wines and the brand new Sub Regional wines, all of which were not yet released at the time of the event.
As our guests arrived, Julian and I poured a welcoming glass of the 2018 Nocturne Rosé (made entirely from Nebbiolo) which was greatly received after their commute through the busy and hot streets of London. Julian was inspired by the rosé wines produced in the Bandol region of France – his Margaret River equivalent.
Although our surroundings were formal, I wanted to ensure the evening was relaxed with conversation and questions flowing at ease. We all sat at a long, beautifully dressed table with Zalto glassware polished to perfection. Alana and Julian sat at opposite sides of the table to ensure that all guests on each side were part of the flowing conversation.
Following my short welcoming speech, the evening kicked off with stunningly prepared plates of food. Most winemaker dinners have a pre-set menu however, our guests enjoyed 67 Pall Mall’s á la carte menu – excellent choices befitting the wine selection. My choices were mackerel for the starter (expertly prepared and voted the best starter at the table) followed by Scottish rib-eye steak seared to perfection and served with buttery béarnaise sauce accompanied by perfectly seasoned French fries (a clear winner with the vast majority ordering the same). This went down an absolute treat with Nocturne’s Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.
The conservation flowed from the start. Our customers engaged early on and very quickly, question after question being fired at Alana and Julian from all corners of the table. What I remember the most are their characters – so different, complete opposites you might say. Alana has bounds of energy, brimming with confidence, witty, well-judged, highly intelligent and spoke with the clarity of a BBC presenter - I actually asked if she is English! She laughed and responded in a humorous way assuring me that she was born and brought up in Western Australia.
Julian remained super-relaxed however, his responses to our customer questions were detailed – the table fell quiet when Julian interjected and we hung by his every word apart from his double-act, Alana who often threw in a touch of humour or to finish Julian’s sentences.
Opposites certainly attract and they make such a complete couple. There is one thing that clearly connects them both and it is their vast knowledge and experience surrounding the subjects of winemaking, food, art and history. Their stories were such fun too... One, in particular, following the amazing Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy gala dinner which took place back home in Oz in 2016.
Overwhelmed with the amazing victory, they openly admitted to enjoying far too much Champagne during the evening. Their own afterparty continued at their home with a bunch of close friends. Alana decided to head to bed to sleep off the Champagne whilst Julian kept the party going with his mates. When she woke, Julian was dishevelled to say the least. It was impossible to get anything out of Julian, Alana said - he remembered nothing. One of their friends later revealed that they enjoyed a moonlight swim in the local river, which explained his pong! What happened to his new tuxedo as it had vanished? The couple retraced his river bank steps as Julian must have stripped prior to jumping in. They walked on both sides and covered considerable distance however, they found nothing. Months passed and the couple were readying themselves for another night out – Autumn had arrived and it was time to dig out some jackets. And there it was – Julian’s tux was neatly hung, in perfect order, hidden in the wardrobe where they stored their winter clothes. Alana still laughed even though she has been telling this story over and over again. She said what is probably the most bizarre twist is that Julian, in the state of complete insobriety had enough clear-headed sense to keep his new tux in order and safe and sound.
Towards the end of our evening at 67 Pall Mall, we cracked opened the brand new sub-regional series (called simply ‘SR’). In Alana’s own words; “Margaret River is, in many senses, a blessed place. The nonchalance with which it seems to knock out immaculate, flavourful and aromatically beguiling fruit year in, year out similarly hints at a preternatural gift.” When asked about the inspiration for creating the new range, Julian referenced the scarcity of the Single Vineyard wines and the fact that their followers are left with no wine to drink as soon as they finish their allocated cases, which are never enough. The wines sell out in weeks with no alternative nor substitute in the range. Julian said; “None of us take this sort of thing for granted, and we never will. As a means of encouraging greater access to the joys of Nocturne, Alana and I devised a plan – hatched with trademark consideration and verve – to extend the range to include a sub-regional exploration of their wines to sit beneath the enduringly peerless single-vineyard wines.”
It was a memorable evening, and one I’ll certainly never forget. Their wines certainly are a fantastic expression of their characters.
“It’s hard to believe that the fourth release of Nocturne is upon us. The support and love shown for our first three releases was astounding and this year we are thrilled to be expanding our offering to include a Sub Regional range and the Single Vineyard wines. Fingers crossed this gives a few more people the chance to purchase the wine. Nocturne is now comprised of two wine ranges. The Single Vineyard or SV range and the Sub Regional or SR range. Our SV Sheaok Cabernet and SV Tassell Park Chardonnay remain as ever awesomely epic expressions of the best sites in Margaret River. These wines are so mouth-wateringly good it will make your pants tight but alas they remain in tiny allocations….. Enter the SR range. The Sub Regional range is an excellent opportunity for us to make a little more wine whilst maintaining our stylistic course of epicness! Contemporarily styled, unique, funky, cool and fun but maintaining uncompromising quality. For each wine we have sourced a sister vineyard within the same Sub Region as the original SV vineyard and then via blending we have produced wines with great verve and soul”.
A personal note to you all…
“Hi there, our very loved and much admired UK customers, Alana and I were gutted to not be able to make it to visit this year for the Vinorium portfolio tasting!! Whilst this was likely a good thing for all of our livers, COVID-19 has a lot to answer for. On a more serious note we were really looking forward to showing in particular the 2018 SV chardonnay and the 2018 SV Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines are in our eyes superb and our best releases yet and whilst we don’t get to showcase them to you in person, we really hope you get to enjoy the very limited volumes available.”
Sheoak Vineyard: Home to a previous Jimmy Watson memorial Trophy winner.
To purchase the Sheoak Vineyard was a canny move by the pair as the previous owners Harvey River Bridge Estate were awarded the Jimmy Watson memorial Trophy for their 2009 Joseph River Estate Cabernet Sauvignon sourced exclusively from Sheoak…
The Jimmy Watson award is named after the legendary Jimmy Watson who championed wine consumption in the middle of the last century, and the trophy has been presented every year since 1962 at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show for best red wine from a recent vintage. This award is the most sought-after award in the Australian wine industry.
Julian’s take on his Single Vineyard ’18 Cabernet…
"This vintage was, as far as great Margaret River Cabernet seasons go, perfect. A moderate amount of early-season rainfall and then warm days and cool nights for weeks and weeks. It was a complete Goldilocks harvest and one that will go down in the history books.
The fruit was picked on 16th March, one of the earlier Cabernet parcels picked that year. While tasting the fruit in the vineyard it was clear that there were great flavours and concentration. Once crushed and into tank, the must exhibited the most amazing colour and silky epic tannin, all at once serious yet joyous.
The fruit was simply destemmed and fermented in 4.5-tonne static fermenters. After 12 days on skins and a peak ferment temperature of around 27 degrees Celsius, the wine was pressed to tank and settled briefly, before being transferred to a combination of new (25%) and two-year-old barrels to undergo malolactic conversion. This wine was racked only once in this time and, after 18 months in oak, was emptied from barrel, settled, clarified and bottled.
The Sheoak Vineyard makes expressive, medium-bodied Cabernets. This release is undoubtedly the most serious and best we have made to date. A wine that, if you have the patience, will improve and develop further complexity over the next decade."
"Ethereal, alluring, sensual and offers a lovely regal quality... Just magnificent."
2018 Nocturne Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon |
98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “A truly fabulous bouquet which unfurls with such grace – Violets, an abundance of mineral-laden black & blue fruits, fresh pencil shavings, menthol, ink and some warmth (more from the quality of the vintage rather than alcohol). The palate is softly spoken, tannins lacy and svelte - oodles of textural finesse. Perfect symmetry which is something special for such a young wine. Medium-bodied, ultra-fine and screams quality - there isn’t a hair out of place. Ethereal, alluring, sensual and offers a lovely regal quality. As good as any recently released Aussie Cabernet. Just magnificent. Truly so… Decanted for 2-3 hours and served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drinking wonderfully now however, this will be mesmeric in a decade…”
98 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Sampled 3-4 hours after Stu. The nose is incredibly expressive providing an abundance of fruit, Indian ink and a profusion of violets. There is a faint trace of vanilla with menthol finishing off a captivating sensory experience. The palate is silken and seamless but has all the structural foundations to offer a counterpoint and to provide balance. Sublimely elegant, but far from being mean with its fruit – far from it. What a treat to find a pure Cabernet Sauvignon where all the pieces of the jigsaw come together effortlessly. This has a very long and bright future, but only if you have the patience as it’s drinking wonderfully today. In time, I am confident that it will sit towards the top of the Aussie Cabernet league table – it certainly does mine."
"Elegant textures wash the palate seamlessly with the poise of a tranquil coastal tide"
The wine that only just was…
Julian 2019 Aussie winemaker of the year , Jimmy Watson winner etc etc “we can’t put that barrel of Chardonnay into the final blend it’s just too sulphidic and stinky”
Alana Nocturne Co-winemaker / Cheese queen “Yes we can, it’s delicious”
Result : The barrel went in the final blend, resultant wine is triumphant and our most highly awarded thus far….. what does Julian know?
We know the score but we are forbidden to declare for now (strict embargo). Furthermore, and perhaps a greater accolade is that their Chardonnay will be featuring in a special book – somewhere near the top we believe but, and to quote Julian “we cannot use this information on pain of death until the book comes out but it’s something to have in your back pocket I guess”.
2018 Nocturne Wines Single Vineyard Chardonnay |
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Struck match, citrus, lemon and orange peel, flint, wild mint, spice and an unmistakable twang of pink grapefruit unfold from the glass. Like the Cabernet – the balance is exceptional. Crystalline purity is the signature along with a soft, powdery mouth feel. The palate follows a similar line with confit lemon, lemon grass and spice all fabulously infused with floral notes. Finesse more than oomph, nonetheless this is an exquisitely composed Chardonnay. Expressive in a reserved sense and will provide a complete drinking experience in 5-8 years. Gracious, and all the better for it. Do not overchill and ideally decant for 20-30 minutes. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
97+ Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "I absolutely love the perfume - one I could easily wear. Lots of citrus and beautiful, crystalline minerals. Intensely pure being the driving highlight. Gentle floral notes unfold with honeysuckle drifting from the glass with more aeration. There is a hint of spice on the nose - fresh ginger, which carries on to the palate together with citrus and minerals. This wine exhibits class and purity and provides a wonderfully fine experience. Elegant textures wash the palate seamlessly with the poise of a tranquil coastal tide gently brushing the sand line. Ethereal, crystalline and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops over the years…"
£27.95 per bottle
2018 Cabernet & Chardonnay 6 pack
Special Price of £146.95 per case of 6 - SAVE £20.75
3 x 2018 Nocturne Cabernet Sauvignon - 98 Points
3 x 2018 Nocturne Chardonnay - 97 Points
Limited quantities & only available in mixed packs
Our ‘new’ Nocturne order was packed and readied for export when we received an email from Alana informing us that our entire Sub Regional order had been, by mistake double-sold and shipped to another customer, which is a first for us and an incredibly embarrassing position for them. We are still scratching our heads to how this could physically have happened however, we are sure it was a genuine faux pas. Nonetheless, six-hundred bottles of Sub Regional splendour have been miraculously lost which makes the below offer rather small.
Julian and Alana kindly provided details for each Sub Regional wine as we could hardly afford to open one of each – could we!
2018 Nocturne Chardonnay | Treeton Sub Region
J&A "You’re in Treeton now. It’s a weird little area full of hillbillies, dairy cows and interestingly some great Chardonnay vineyards. It’s cold at night and warm in the day, with deep silver/grey sands that we think produce lovely Chardonnay. This exciting new wine is grown on two Treeton vineyards: the original and favourite Tassell Park and a new vineyard called Victory Point.
It sounds a little trite but 2018 was yet another excellent Margaret River Chardonnay vintage (it’s God’s own country after all!). It exhibits similarities to 2017 with great acid line and verve but with fuller, richer fruit weight. The season was early yet as usual these vineyards were some of the last picked on 21st and 24th February - some three weeks earlier than 2017.
The grapes were harvested by hand and whole bunch-pressed directly to new, one- and two-year-old puncheons with a smattering of barriques for good measure, with no settling or fining processes. This juice was then very carefully neglected and allowed to undergo spontaneous fermentation which kicked off on day five after pressing. After a four-week ferment the wine remained on gross lees, unsulphured until August of that year. In November the wine was emptied from barrel, settled, filtered and bottled.
This wine is super cool, just like its new label and its owners! It’s pale green, with more weight and phenolic grunt than its SV big sister - but oh! that texture and length of flavour is to die for. It smells of blossom and gunfights."
1 x NEW 2018 Sub Regional Chardonnay
1 x NEW 2018 Single Vineyard Chardonnay
1 x 2017 Single Vineyard Chardonnay
* Only 12 packs available *
2018 Nocturne Cabernet | Yallingup Sub Region
J&A "Yallingup is our stomping ground and where the world’s greatest Cabernet and Cabernet blends are being grown! It’s deliciously warm but never hot, with the amazing dual influence of the Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay. In our new ‘Cabernets’ we have used our own beloved Sheoak Cabernet and added some Merlot from the Simpson property belonging to our neighbours, with whom we’re lucky enough to share the amazing valley.
Sometimes shit just goes right. The 2018 vintage is to high-end Margaret River Cabernet what peas are to carrots. It was that good - not too hot nor too cold, with moderately high growing-season rainfall and, most importantly, a long, dry, benign finish. We started picking on 29th March and from the moment the fruit hit the fermenter it was destined to be a classic.
Instantly perfumed and richly coloured, the wine spent 12 days on skins with a peak fermentation temperature of around 28ºC. The wine was pressed to tank and settled briefly, before being transferred to a combination of new (25%), two- and three-year-old barrels to undergo malolactic conversion. The wine was racked only once in this time and, after 15 months in oak, was emptied from barrel. At this juncture we decided the final make-up of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon with 13 % Merlot. These wines were then settled together, clarified and bottled.
Cabernet is king, and long will it reign in our eyes. If this modern new blend doesn’t resonate hugely with you all then there’s something amiss in the realm. It’s expressive, medium-bodied and smells of hope wrapped in pure emotion."
1 x NEW 2018 Sub Regional Cabernet Sauvignon
1 x NEW 2018 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
£44.95 per 2 pack
* Only 12 packs available *
2019 Nocturne Sangiovese Nebbiolo Rosé |
Carbanup Sub Region
J&A "2019 sees the addition of Sangiovese into the Nocturne rosé and we liked it so much it has become the dominant player in the blend. Lighter, finer and slightly more ethereal, it’s blended with 40% Nebbiolo to allow some chew and grip and grown-up appeal. 2019 was a ripping year for rosé in Margaret River. Great early flavours allowed low alcohol picking decisions, resulting in a cracking wine. The fruit comes from the sub-region of Carbanup in Margaret River, with the sites being relatively flat and warm with fertile, red sandy soils. The grapes were harvested between 16th and 28th April. The Sangiovese fruit was simply destemmed, chilled and pressed using only the free-run fraction of the juice. It was then fermented at moderate temperatures using as always solely indigenous yeasts. After fermentation it was matured for three months on gross lees to add additional texture. The Nebbiolo fruit was hand-picked and, after chilling, whole bunch-pressed directly to old oak for fermentation.
This took close to six weeks, after which the wine received a further four weeks’ maturation in barrel. At this stage the final blend between Sangiovese and Nebbiolo was decided and the wine was emptied from barrel/tank, settled, filtered, sulphured and bottled on 3rd August. We are super stoked with the final wine!! The texture and acid structure are highlights of what is likely a more approachable and fruit-forward release of Nocturne rosé. As always, best drunk from magnum, on a boat, wearing white…. It’s a pale salmon dream."
1 x NEW 2019 Sub Regional Rosé
1 x 2018 Nocturne Rosé
£32.95 per 2 pack
* Only 12 packs available *
2017 Nocturne Single Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon - SOLD OUT
2017 Nocturne Wines Single Vineyard Chardonnay |
97 Points - James Halliday "A tiny 0.37ha interplanted with Bernard/Dijon and Gin Gin clones on south-facing deep silver grey sands. Wild fermented in new and used oak. Pale straw-green; highly fragrant/perfumed, palate fine and intense; minerally aftertaste. 13% alc, screwcap. Drink to 2030.
Now £24.95 per bottle
Nocturne Nebbiolo Rosé 2018
96 Points - James Halliday "From a single vineyard; free-run juice only used. Remarkable wild yeast wine with no additions until bottling. Beautiful nutty infused strawberry and cherry flavours, mouthfeel, balance, length. All boxes (and then some) ticked. 13% alc, screwcap."
Now £17.50 per bottle
"The list of awards given to this tiny area in Australia’s most isolated region is endless and it’s no wonder that Margaret River is dominating Australia’s premium sector.."
Perched all the way over on Australia’s most south westerly tip is Margaret River. A region that accounts for less than 5% of Australia’s wine production but is responsible for 20% of the premium wines and the lion’s share of awards. Probably best known as the region that produces some of the new world’s finest Cabernet, Margaret River specialises not only in red and white, Bordeaux style wines but the region is also gaining a reputation for premium Chardonnays that rival some of the best found in Burgundy.
Here's a few of our favourites...
2015 Robert Oatley The Pennant Chardonnay
Halliday awards 98 points (as do we) and we’ve almost sold 600 bottles. Just a few bottles remain, then it’s quite a wait until the 2018 is released!
2017 Domaine Naturaliste Artus Chardonnay
Decanter Platinum Medal winner and 98 points. A very special Margaret River wine in our opinion.
2016 Flowstone Queen of the Earth Chardonnay
Stuart Pym is an unsung hero. He’s an amazing wine producer and crafts some of the best wines coming out of the Margaret River. 98 points from Mr James Halliday and deservedly so.
2017 Flowstone Queen of the Earth Sauvignon Blanc
‘Best Aussie Sauvignon Blanc – James Halliday’ – Only a handful of bottles left. Think expensive Loire!
2018 Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Sauvignon Blanc
James Halliday “It's not about Marlborough, but the Loire Valley/Bordeaux of France at half the price." He’s spot on as this is our go-to Sauvignon, the quality versus value is fantastic.
2017 Domaine Naturaliste Floris Chardonnay
This should be at least twenty-five pounds! Simply a superb wine…
2017 Stella Bella Otro Vino Chardonnay
and only £15.50.
2009 Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon
97++ points and the years have been very kind. A particularly exquisite wine which will offer you much happiness.
2017 Deep Woods Estate Single Vineyard Cabernet Malbec
98 points and quite possibly the best value wine we have ever offered…
Was £26.95 per bottle
Now £22.50 per bottle
2017 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Another 98 pointer along with a gold trophy for the best Cabernet Sauvignon at the Royal Sydney Wine Show.
Was £48.55 per bottle
Now £43.50 per bottle
We announce the Winner
of our Dr. Edge 3 Pack
A few weeks ago when we launched Dr. Edge wines in our Weekend Reading issue #112, we gave you the opportunity to win a 3 pack of Dr. Edge wines. What was the catch you ask? All we asked was that you simply send us your best and most accurate tasting note for either the Dr. Edge Tasmanian Pinot Noir or Tasmanian Chardonnay. We were overwhelmed with the amount of responses we got (which is a good indication you loved the wine as much as we did!) thank you all, choosing a winner was a difficult task. However, there was a winner and Team Vinorium have voted.
So without further ado…
"On the first day we had the wine as an aperitif to see what it was like close to freshly opened. Taken out of the fridge (9 degrees), opened and left on the side for 30 minutes. Quite closed on the nose and hint of the smell of the sea. Lovely straw-like colour. Gripping in the mouth with a fair bit of acidity, sticking to the cheeks. Candied pineapple, weighted texture, a little bit tight but fresh. Would have happily carried on. Sealed with stopper and vacuum pressed before refrigerating again.
Day 2, as recommended by Stu, took out of the fridge and decanted for 30 mins. Well worth the effort. More open on the nose with strong but pleasant saline (a touch of seaweed), with the fruit coming through more. More balanced in the mouth this time, a little less sharp with that extra aeration. Still quite tight in the mouth but in a good and precise fashion. Really wonderful texture coating the whole palate and encouraging you to come back for more. A real minerality and salinity to the taste to go with the fruit that all together makes it fantastically drinkable. Fruity but also savoury in a moreish sense. Very hard to put the glass down. Lovely long finish. We ate a classic roast chicken with chinese five spice stirred into the gravy. A perfect match, not a drop left.
Really looking forward to seeing what the component vineyards have in store on their own. I imagine they will be splendid also.
Superb wine, eye catching label and lovely story to go with it all. Thanks very much for bringing them to our shores."
With best wishes
Well done George! Your 3 bottles of Dr. Edge Chardonnay are on their way to you and should be with you Monday. Enjoy!
Giving a little something back to our deserving friends and family.
We asked you to nominate a person who has placed others’ needs before their own during the lockdown period. In return your chosen person would receive a special thank you gift from us.
We have 54 bottles of Tassie fizz that we are donating.
We’ve loved reading some of the heart-warming nominations from our customers and your selected person will receive their wines shortly along with your special message. A huge thank you to all who took part and those nominated, for your part during these difficult times.
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