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Margaret River’s new wave of wine

A new guard of winemakers are turning the tide on tradition in the Margaret River wine region. Meet five of the best. Original published on WATODAY

Nic Peterkin – L.A.S Vino, Willyabrup

The pirates of fables are rule-breaking outlaws pursuing their personal desires with passion.

Nic Peterkin, you could argue, is somewhat of a modern-day winemaking pirate, chasing his winemaking dreams with gusto and individuality. As the son of Mike Peterkin, who planted the family’s Pierro vineyard in 1980 and is renowned for the chardonnay it produces, he has a strong wine heritage but he refuses to conform to tradition.

“Chardonnay I find kind of boring because it’s been done,” he says with a grin.

“I want to make wines that build on what’s already happening in the region.”

His Pirate Blend, for example, is unlike anything produced in Margaret River. It contains three Portuguese varieties - touriga nacional, tinta cao and sousao – traditionally used in port.

“I couldn’t resist giving them a try as a blend,” he said. “There’s a really small production over here, I think only three or four vineyards in WA. I wanted to put it into a port-style bottle as an ode to the varieties and it occurred to me this was such a pirate wine, and so the name stuck.”

Along with a few others in the region, he is also working to revive chenin, offering a crisp, dry organic and biodynamic version.

L.A.S stands for luck, art and science, which Peterkin says you need a strong combination of to make good wines. The first wines under that banner were made in 2013 but Peterkin says it was a bit of luck a few years earlier, that gave him and some of his regional peers an opportunity in the competitive wine industry.

“When a few of us got going there was this perfect storm of external factors that I think set us on this course,” he recalls.

“We had just had the GFC and so there were a lot of excess grapes down here, we had a really high Australian dollar and no jobs for winemakers because of all of that. It presented an opportunity for a young winemaker to go out on their own and try something different.

“We are not treating wine like a big industry thing. We are all under 100 tonnes, and big commercial wineries are doing that in a day, so it’s a very different ethos.”

Try: the 2020 Clayface cabernet. Made in an Italian clay amphora, this wine was plunged daily by feet and hand then left to macerate on its skins for five months.

Try: the 2020 Chardonnay. A contemporary Margaret River chardonnay that has been hand-harvested and whole bunch pressed.

Try: the 2020 Sophie Rose. A light skin contact pinot noir rosé matured in concrete eggs.

Try: the 2020 Vermentino. A zippy Italian white grown near the ocean in Margaret River.

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