James Halliday 2019 Winemaker of the Year: Julian Langworthy

“What is one word that describes a great wine?  I think many people would say balance. And that's what his [Langworthy's] wines have beyond compare."

James Halliday

 
 

After sampling 9289 wines for the 2019 James Halliday Wine Companion Awards (recognised as the industry benchmark for Australian wine), many gathered on Wednesday evening at a ceremony held at the National Gallery of Victoria for the gala dinner awards ceremony. We have often spoken of Julian Langworthy and declared last year that we believe he is the ‘best’ Aussie winemaker which is why we were so thrilled to work with Julian’s ‘solo’ project Nocturne, which leaves Adelaide for our shores next week.. Many of you have enjoyed Deep Woods wine where Julian is head winemaker and will share in the knowledge that Julian is a world class winemaker and his wines are something very special indeed. I spoke with Julian’s wife, Alana on Thursday morning and asked how they are both feeling. “Thrilled of course, and we did party in style last night, so a bit tender this morning”.

James wrote the following…

“My selection of Julian Langworthy as Winemaker of the Year caused me to ponder on the three greatest winemakers of the 20th century: Maurice O’Shea of Mount Pleasant Wines, Colin Preece of Seppelt’s Great Western and Max Schubert of Penfolds (Schubert’s masterwork, Grange). They plied their trade in a market where fortified wines, largely sold in saloons and hotels, reigned supreme. The one thing they had in common was the balance of their wines underlying their longevity. 

Each had a substantial winery that provided support, although that support had its limits. Schubert was able to make the epic voyage to Spain and France in 1950 to study first-hand the making of sherry – it was from that journey that Grange, a Penfolds-banned wine during ’51–’61, saw its almost accidental birth; Preece had personal issues with some of the numerous members of the Seppelt family, with relations souring to the point where he felt compelled to resign; O’Shea was rescued by a number of members of the McWilliam clan – the McWilliams first buying half the shares in Mount Pleasant, and ultimately the other half in the aftermath of the Great Depression.

If you take a broad view, these hugely talented winemakers were incidental to their employers’ financial needs, but left in limbo for much of their careers (Schubert was brought out of retirement when the marketing gurus belatedly realised his value). There was no expectation that any one of these winemakers would have any knowledge of, let alone responsibility for, the commercial value or the financial cost of their wines. How different to the wine world of today.

Julian Langworthy is chief winemaker for the Fogarty Wine Group (FWG), the fastest growing wine business in Western Australia. He reports to the Group General Manager, and is responsible for the stylistic direction of all of the FWG 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.

Julian has particular responsibilities for Deep Woods, with an extensive promotional role for its profile interstate and internationally. He plays a lead role in brand planning, providing wine business acumen and support for the marketing team. He has broad-based human resources responsibilities, including coordination for all site compliance issues, and others too many to mention.

Are his winemaking skills and palate on par with the greats of the 20th century? It’s a question without an answer. But if he is to be compared with the best of today, the answer is an emphatic yes. His wine show successes (and the team he has led) have gold medals flying around the room like confetti, with trophies (including the biggest of all, the Jimmy Watson) equally plentiful. And most of all, he is universally admired and liked by all who have had contact with him and/or the great wines he makes”.

Deep Woods Reserve
Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

• 2016 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy
• Gold Medal and the Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
• Max Schubert Trophy for Most Outstanding Red Wine in Show
• Top Gold at the 2016 Royal Adelaide Wine Show

18.5 Points - Jancis Robinson "Dark crimson. Forest-floor aromas. Wonderfully managed tannins – absolutely glorious, I’d love to see this blind with a classed-growth bordeaux. Completely dry, exceptionally long finish. Fabulous!"

97 Points - James Halliday "Elegance and purity personified. The varietal expression is pitch perfect, cassis standing proud, its handmaidens fine-grained tannins and cedary French oak. It is an effortless wine, no more than medium-bodied, and needs no further elaboration. Shades of Xanadu."

98 Points - Ray Jordan "These Reserve Deep Woods cabernets have been on the top shelf for some time now and this is another cracker that is as good as any produced so far. A striking feature is the balance and how well the oak tannin and fruit have come together into a powerful collective that effortlessly punches out to the long finish. The most elegant and stylish yet and a marvellous statement of what this part of Margaret River can do."

96 Points - Decanter "Julian Langworthy shows his style with this 2016 Jimmy Watson Trophy winner. Densely packed with layer upon layer of blackcurrant, mulberry and bramble flavours; plush, velvety, seamless and long."

£48.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Reserve
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

• Royal Queensland Wine Show 2017 - Gold
• Royal Sydney Wine Show 2017 - Gold
• Wine Show of Western Australia 2017 - Gold
• Decanter World Wine Awards: Silver 2017

96 points - James Halliday "From the oldest estate vines at Yallingup, plus grapes from a nearby grower, crushed and destemmed, small batch fermentation, 16 months maturation in new and used French barriques. A perfumed, brambly bouquet leads into a medium-bodied palate that caresses the mouth with blackcurrant, redcurrant and herbs."

£45.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Reserve
Block 7 Shiraz 2015

• Decanter World Wine Awards: Silver 2018
• Margaret River Wine Show 2016: Gold Medal

96 points - James Halliday "Partly from the first planting at Deep Woods in '87, partly from an adjacent, mature vineyard. Whole bunches, cold soak and partial barrel fermentation are all in Julian Langworthy's arsenal, then a selection of the best French barriques that have matured the wine for 14 months. Deeply coloured, it is full-bodied, yet dazzlingly light on its feet on the finish and aftertaste, fruit, tannins and oak all on the same lines of the same page."

£34.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Reserve
Chardonnay 2015

• Halliday Wine Companion Awards - Top Rated Chardonnay 2019
• Margaret River Wine Show 2017: Gold Medal
• Royal Queensland Wine Show 2017 - Gold
• Royal Adelaide Wine Show 2017 - Gold
• Perth Royal Wine Show 2017 - Gold
• Wine Show of Western Australia 2017 - Gold
• National Wine Show of Australia 2017 - Gold
• Royal Hobart Wine Show 2017 - Gold

97 Gold Points - James Halliday "Five gold medals in the second half of '17 will have been added to by the time of publication. Mainly sourced from Wilyabrup, the wine has a special type of phenolic grip (not limited to white wines) that makes the taster incapable of doing anything other than swallow it (bad phenolics have the opposite effect). A special wine, with perfect fruit/oak balance."

97 points – The West Australian Wine Guide "Continues the evolution of Deep Woods to premier Chardonnay producer in Margaret River. This is high-class stuff that gets the whole kid gloves treatment from winemaker Julian Langworthy. Whole bunch pressing after hand-picking, a mix of new and used French oak and lees stirring. It all creates texture and layered complexity. Such an elegant and persuasive chardonnay that captures the new expression of the region. Cellar: 7 years."

£35.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Hillside
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

• Royal Queensland Wine Show 2017 - Gold
• Royal Melbourne Wine Awards 2017 - Gold
• Wine Show of Western Australia 2017 - Gold
• National Wine Show of Australia 2017- Gold
• Perth Royal Wine Awards 2017 - Silver
• Royal Hobart Wine Show 2017 - Silver

The palate displays flavours of summer plums and dark berries with notes of sweet spice and dark chocolate from the use of both new and seasoned French Oak. It is medium-bodied wine with fine, elegant tannin and persistent length. A true representation of Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon.

£17.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Hillside Chardonnay 2015

92 points - James Halliday  "A number of batches picked, each whole bunch-pressed to used French oak barrels for wild fermentation and 6 months maturation on lees. Very much a la mode, reducing the impact of oak to the texture, not flavour, picking the grapes at the crucial moment to ensure maximum varietal expression (no wannabe sauvignon blanc), yet retain crisp acidity, and offering a Margaret River chardonnay at a mouthwatering price."

£17.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Estate Rosé 2017

• Margaret River Wine Show 2017: Gold Medal

95 Points - James Halliday "The pale but bright hue opens the door for this blend of shiraz and tempranillo, chiefly tank-fermented, a small portion fermented in barrel. Its fragrant bouquet is attractive enough, but doesn't quite prepare you for the intensity and drive that spears through to the finish and aftertaste. Wild strawberry and hints of forest make this a very special rose."

£21.95 per bottle

 
 

Deep Woods Harmony Rosé 2017

• China Wine & Spirits Awards: Best Value 2018
• Perth Royal Wine Awards: Gold 2017
• Margaret River Wine Show 2017: Gold Medal
• James Halliday's Best Australian Red Wines Under $25 

95 Points - James Halliday "Light pink with a shimmer of salmon. Produced from a blend of shiraz and tempranillo, and has a proud history of high quality predecessors. The length of the wine is prodigious, offering strawberry, red cherry and raspberry, cut and shaped by persistent acidity."

£14.95 per bottle

 
 
 

Nocturne Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

** Delivery Due Mid November 2018 **

93 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)

From the north of Margaret River, which is pretty much always more chocolaty than the middle and southern bits. Admire my formidable grasp of terroir here? Right?

Ripe raspberry, bay leaf, chocolate, spicy biscuits and the like. It’s medium bodied, delivers a mix of raspberry and more purple flavours, has a quiet rasp of open-weave tannin, and finishes with a bit of crunch and chocolate richness. It’s a wine of easy appeal, and one that’s very much at ease with itself. Lovely.

£27.95 per bottle

 
 

Nocturne Chardonnay 2016

** Delivery Due Mid November 2018 **

95 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)

The ‘gettin’ jizzy with it’ label is now gone, and the wine in bottle is superb too.

Struck match, nougat, lime, and almost a kaffir lime leaf top note. Medium bodied, glossy and flinty, juicy burst of flavour, but keeps itself trim and composed. Finish has a tweak of tonic-like bitterness, with a squeeze of lime, and fine length to boot. In short, it’s just a bloody delight to drink.

£27.95 per bottle

 
 

Nocturne Nebbiolo Rosé 2017

** Delivery Due Mid November 2018 **

94 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)

Savoury rose of fine bones and good structure. Clear elevation above the pack, light, succulent tannins, a lick of saline mineral charm, just ripe red berry/cherry fruit character, barely-there game meat character. It’s all happening here. Packs plenty into the slight and dry frame. The finish rolls on and on and on with gentle, dry fruit and spice character, with a lick of burned orange and amaro. This is great stuff.

£18.75 per bottle