Nocturne is the husband-and-wife partnership between recently-crowned Jimmy Watson-winner Julian Langworthy and his wife Alana. The two met as young winemakers in South Australia and have been producing their own side-project wines together for 10 years.
Nocturne is a serious new venture producing single-vineyard wines from exceptional sites in Margaret River. This is the region where Julian grew up and where he’s honed his winemaking skills. In the process he’s won just about every prize imaginable, culminating in the 2016 Jimmy Watson trophy.
Julian and Alana are smart, ambitious and acutely sensitive to the best fruit sources in the region – including their pride and joy, the newly acquired Sheoak Vineyard with its beautifully mature Cabernet vines.
Q & A with the award-winning winemakers, Julian & Alana Langworthy
Your list of accolades is almost unparalleled. Winning the James Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year award and the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy for Deep Woods Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a host of awards for your own wines including several trophies for the 2017 Nocturne Cabernet. How do you feel seeing your wines at the pinnacle together with the biggest Australian icons (and may we add – rightly so)?
J: You're too kind! The biggest thrill for me, Alana and I getting to collaborate and make some outstanding wines together as we did first 15 years ago when we first met. It’s been a long road to where we are now but I am very comfortable that our Nocturne project is equal to any in Margaret River if not Australia. Winning the James Halliday Cabernet Challenge this year was a nice feather to the cap.
Nocturne wines are a true expression of single vineyard winemaking. When did you identify the special sites and how?
A: Having access to such diverse vineyards through Julian’s job at Deep Woods has enabled us to seek out sights that resonate with our winemaking philosophy. We are firm believers that if you have the correct site, the winemaking requirement is negligible....you are simply a vehicle for getting the personality of the fruit and site into a bottle! We remain true to the single vineyard principle by ensuring no adds are made to the wines throughout their production and maturation, enabling the specific flavours of the vineyard, fruit and vintage to be truthfully expressed.
Can you tell us a little about each vineyard and what makes them so special?
A: It all started with a very special vineyard called Tassell Park which is where the Chardonnay comes from. It is a cool south facing site in Treeton, east of Cowaramup. There are 2 clones interplanted (Gin Gin and 277) which work together to create the unique mineral sulphide aromatically and the powerful acid backbone.
The Rosé has traditionally come from a vineyard called Letedal in Carbanup, however going forward this will be a blend of Nebbiolo from Watson Vineyard in Wilyabrup and Tempranillo from Yallingup. No longer being single vineyard from 2019, the wine is now more about varietal expression and texture. Nebbiolo is a fabulous varietal for Rosé as it offers bright poppy strawberry aromas, a crunchy refreshing acid and textural tannic crunch. It is the structure of the wine! The Temp gives the wine personality with more aromatic range to balance the boldness of the palate.
The Cabernet is very close to both Julian and my heart as this is the varietal we have the most history making together! Sheoak is now the spiritual home of Nocturne as we purchased it 2 years ago not only for the fruit but because it is where we want to build our family home. It is a south facing slope around 1.5km as the crow flies to the ocean. It is very heavily moderated climatically by the ocean breeze and this is what allows it to produce such a complex wine without being overblown with jammy fruit and high alcohol.
You both have an incredible career in winemaking. How does Nocturne differ from your previous projects (please expand on your past projects too)? Is Nocturne the pinnacle of your aspirations?
J: Nocturne is super special and super exciting and resonating hugely with our customers which is a thrill in itself. We see it as a body of work that we will continue to put together over our entire lives and hopefully into our children’s futures too.
We know that it’s a very busy time for you at the moment. How is the harvest going? Anything of particular note from the current vintage?
"...this year’s Chardonnay is going to be the best ever… It’s epic."
A: Harvest was quite late this year on the back of a cooler summer. There have been a few rain events which is not typical for this time of year, however good viti advice and decisions have seen our Chardy and Rosé vineyards picked at the right times to avoid issues with disease. There have been a few late nights and hair pulling but looking at what is currently in barrel, we are delighted with the wines. Cabernet is still hanging, but remaining clean and developing flavour nicely.
J: Have decided this morning that this year’s Chardonnay is going to be the best ever… It’s epic.
Do you have any future plans to add to the Nocturne range? Any exciting plans or projects lined up in the background which you can share with us?
J: Yes! The single vineyard ethos will remain, but we hope to bring in a Cabernet Blend in time and another Chardonnay!
Are there any other winemakers (past or present) that you admire or who have had an influence on your winemaking?
A: For me, Virginia Wilcocks and Sue Hodder are truly inspirational women first and foremost, but winemakers too. Their ability to craft wines of such regional distinction and personality yet remain utterly unaffected by their Rockstar winemaking status is truly inspirational!
J: Also Sue Hodder who was my boss at Wynns, Coonawarra. She taught me as much about managing staff as she did about Winemaking, which is at least equally as important, as teams make wines, not just individuals. Then we have Steve Pannell, hugely inspirational, won two Jimmy’s one in the heady Hardy’s corporate days and one for his breakout SC Pannell brand. Always at the cutting edge of quality yet imaginative Winemaking.
Margaret River celebrated half a century of winemaking since it was put on a world wine map in 1966. How did the region / the industry change over the years? Where do you think it’s heading?
"Margaret River can and
will make the world’s best Cabernet and Cabernet blends and for me this means the world’s best wines."
J: It’s changing rapidly and we are heading for the top. Margaret River can and will make the world’s best Cabernet and Cabernet blends and for me this means the world’s best wines.
Given the growing numbers of wineries in the Margaret River, is there a good sense of the community between the winemakers? Do you exchange views/experiences? Do you swap wines?
A: We are so fortunate that Margaret river has such a diverse range of people all working together for the greater good of the wine and each other. Sometimes, those south of the border *Cowaramup* need to be reminded that we are Kings in the North and that they should respect us and kneel in our presence.....but other than that, there is a great sense of comradery. We regularly get together for events or just a catchup with friends in the industry and there are always wines being exchanged!
What is your favourite grape variety to work with and why?
A: For me it’s Chardonnay, as I love the expression of provenance that it exhibits. The truly special Chardonnays have such poise and capture the essence of their site more so than any other white varietal. Plus, when made well....it’s just damn delicious!!
What do you drink after a long, hot day spent working in the vineyard?
A: Tanqueray Gin and good tonic with cucumber for me... Jules, a frosty beer.
Finally, here is a message from both Alana & Julian
to all Vinorium customers:
Drink widely and imaginatively and always share with your loved ones. Few things are emotive as wine and great bottles can make special occasions in themselves especially if shared
with the right people xxxx
Julian (left) with James Halliday (right)
Presented with 'Winemaker of the Year' at the Halliday Wine Companion Awards on August 1 2018)
A Supper & Tutored Tasting
We will be hosting Julian and his wife (co-winemaker), Alana during September. Julian (with his Deep Woods hat on) has won just about everything there is to win in Australian wine, from James Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year for the 2019 and the prodigious 2016 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at Royal Melbourne. Most recently Julian’s Deep Woods Reserve Chardonnay has been awarded 98 points by Decanter and his Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 99 points from James Halliday.
We focus on their exciting ‘solo’ project Nocturne, which we believe will soon become the ‘hottest’ wines to come out of Margaret River. We are hosting two masterclasses which Julian & Alana will be leading.
Rub shoulders with some of
the UK’s ‘top’ Wine Press
• Tuesday 10th September
• 11:00am to 2:00pm
• Venue: 67 Pall Mall, London
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A Special, 3 Course Dinner &
Tutored Tasting with Julian, Alana & Stu
• Friday 13th September
• 6:00pm start with a finish
around 10:30 / 11:00pm
• Venue: The Marlborough Room,
67 Pall Mall, London
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Julian & Alana will be presenting their new releases (an exclusive world unveiling) along with a mini-vertical of Nocturne Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon from
the past 3 releases
Nocturne Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
2018 Halliday Cabernet Challenge Winner: Margaret River Best of Region
Margaret River Wine Show Trophy: Best Red Wine of Show 2018
Margaret River Wine Show Trophy: Best Single Vineyard Red Wine 2018
Stuart McCloskey 96-98 points “A wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon which offers a distinct regional feel and is just starting to come-around. The wine opens with a beautiful perfume of dark fruits, cassis, warm earth and lead pencil. Medium-bodied, bright and balanced to perfection, which is very much Julian’s style. After a 1-2 hours in the decanter, the 2017 unfolds graciously with sublimely polished fruit. Most impressively are the wine's expansive flavours which, and after swallowing, are endless. From sweet cassis (with a dash of menthol) to ink and then onto spice, which leads to fennel seeds. There’s wonderful aromatic freshness and lift and I am very much looking forward to seeing how the wine develops over the coming years. Served in Zalto’s Bordeaux glassware”. (I believe this will comfortably arrive at 98 points in a few years).
Julian & Alana Langworthy “After 12 days on skins and a peak ferment temperature of around 25 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 15 months in oak, was emptied from barrel, settled, clarified and bottled. The Sheoak vineyard makes expressive, medium-bodied Cabernets that bear some semblance to a modern version of luncheon claret. I am as happy with this Cabernet as any I have been involved in making. While it’s amazingly accessible on release, two to three years’ further maturation will really make this amazing wine shine”.
Acclaimed Margaret River winemaker Julian Langworthy and wife Alana are turning heads with their own boutique label, Nocturne.
This Chardonnay is their take on the famous regional style, with great success. Born and raised in the region Julian has developed close relationships with some of Margaret River's finest growers, with this Chardonnay coming from a single vineyard in Treeton, planted to some of the region's best-suited clones.
In the hands of Julian, this fruit absolutely sings. It's a polished version of Margaret River Chardonnay with ample weight whilst maintaining and elegant balance.
This is an exciting new addition to the Margaret River Chardonnay landscape.
Nocturne Nebbiolo Rosé 2018
A brilliant example of the rising quality of Australian Rosé here from the hands of 2016 Jimmy Watson Trophy Winner, Julian Langworthy.
The Nocturne Nebbiolo Rosé was made from a single vineyard in Margaret River. The fruit was hand picked specifically for Rosé, then whole bunch pressed to barrel for 10 weeks before being settled and bottled.
Julian is going for a more architectural style of Rosé with this wine. Something inspired by the pink wines of Bandol that can develop with time in bottle.