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Fraser Gallop Estate

Katherine Lethlean
29 February 2024 | Katherine Lethlean

Margaret River Vintage Report 2024






February 1999 was long, hot, dry and windy. 
A scorching summer that seared grapes and stressed dry-grown vines. 
A betting man planting a vineyard in that parched earth would have played it safe and laid down irrigation. Not Nigel Gallop. From the outset Nigel was determined his vines would be dry-grown, allowing them to thrive on their own, confident in his chosen site and its ability to sustain old-world viticultural practices and still produce outstanding wines. 

Fast forward twenty five years and we find ourselves on the other side of the earliest vintage on record in this region. But did it make a difference? 

According to Viticulturist Mike Bolas “It really didn't make a difference to us at all. The crucial fruit development window that takes place between flowering and harvest was actually on par with previous years. Our fruit enjoyed its normal physiological and flavour development. The warm, dry spring followed by the hot, dry summer simply brought the entire vintage forward by about 3.5 weeks.”

Now, with all our grapes harvested and safe in the winery, the team is reflecting on those decisions made in the long hot summer of ‘99.

“Our vines were challenged to develop deep, wide roots capable of sourcing water from the clay subsoils to cope with variable conditions over the past 25 years. As a result we’re very pleased to have enjoyed a normal outcome in an abnormal year, ” says Nigel from behind the wheel of his trusty John Deere. “Dry-growing was a big risk and plenty advised against it, but we believed in this site. This year has tested us but the vineyard has passed with flying colours”.  


Winemaker Ellin Tritt is cautiously optimistic. “The fruit is as precise as ever, with acidity being surprisingly balanced (given the hot year)” she says, “We are excited about the fruit and the resulting wines.  Our wines will never be really high in alcohol, as this is part of the “precision” we pride ourselves on in picking these grapes at the right time.”

With his eye on the cabernet, Winemaker Clive Otto is observing "It is a bit early to get a good grip on how the cabernet will turn out as the fermentations are only half way through. The heat meant there were a few raisined grapes on the vine, however our new destemmer enabled us to keep most of the raisined berries on the stalks. Eliminating the raisins gives us more freshness in the cabernet this year and lower alcohol as a result. Without this new equipment we would have made a more “Barossa Style “ cabernet high in alcohol. So we are really pleased to have it."

Otto is predicting the wines will be “powerful, with richer, darker fruit characters that will be singing well into the future.  Although it has been a warmer vintage, there is a lovely line and length to these wines.  Robust and muscular, they will continue to develop luscious flavours as it ages” .



Meanwhile, Ellin is looking at our chardonnay and anticipating they will be similarly luscious “fuller-bodied and opulent, yet precise. With a spectrum of flavours ranging from white stone-fruits to yellow peach and nectarine. The Gin-gin chardonnay clone lets us create wines that have a purity and length, forging their way with crystalline acidity, this vintage being no exception.”


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