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Exceptional 2018 vintage for Houghton Wines

Exceptional 2018 vintage for Houghton Wines

Drinks Trade & Drinks Bulletin enjoyed a private tasting with Houghton winemaker Ross Pamment this week. Here's what he had to say about the vineyard's latest innovations and 2018 vintage.

Ross Pamment has been part of the winemaking team at Houghton Wines for more than 19 years. And he says this year's vintage is the best he's ever seen.

"It's just exceptional," he enthused over a glass of Thomas Yule Frankland River Shiraz 2014. "We harvested high quality whites after two difficult years, as well as wonderful reds. It was a healthy yield and the quality was amazing.

"It was an unusually mild summer with none of the wildly varying temperatures we saw in 2017.

"Ask any WA winemaker and they'll tell you it's been an incredible year."

Pamment's Thomas Yule is from low-yielding vines and has a spicy character he attributes to whole bunch fermentation.

While he's understandably proud of the wine, he admits his favourite child is Cabernet Sauvignon. 

"Western Australia does Cabernets very well," he said. "They're more aromatic than those from other regions of Australia. They have a crushed leaf character and assertive tannins."

We taste both a Gladstones Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and a 2016. They are vastly different in character, the first one smooth and elegant, the second bold and gutsy.

Pamment notes one of the reasons Margaret River wines are so unique is due to the vines' proximity to the sea air, which means "it never gets too hot, never gets too cold."

However, if it's steak or lamb he's eating, Pamment would lean towards the Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. "Red meat would really bring out the sweetness of the wine," he explains. "The 2015 is elegant in style with a lovely, fine tannin structure. It's consistently regarded as one of the top five Cabernets in Western Australia."

The Jack Mann is named after a winemaker Pamment regards as one of Australia's best-ever fortified winemakers. Mann also created the famous Houghton White Burgundy. 

He also introduces the CW Ferguson Great Southern Cabernet Malbec 2008 & 2016. Pamment explains that the Malbec brings a "plushness" into the middle palate, introducing a different aromatic to the "austerity" of Cabernet.

As for what the next few months hold for Houghton, Pamment says it will be an exciting time for the vineyard as it explores new territory. He's working on a Fume Blanc with barrel fermentation to add complexity and a carbonic maceration experiment with Temperanillo.