Bespoke small-batch Margaret River producer Mr Barval Fine Wines is gearing up to release the third vintage of its Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva, which winemaker Rob Gherardi expects to be his best yet.
Three years from the date the fruit was lovingly hand-picked, the premium Margaret River red is set to turn heads upon its official release on March 1st, 2021.
According to Gherardi, the 2018 vintage was exceptional, offering "textbook Margaret River conditions" in the form of warm sunny days, cool afternoons and fresh evenings.
"This led to a long, slow maturation of the grapes which allowed them to develop extraordinary diversity of flavour and aroma," said Gherardi.
A lack of summer rainfall also resulted in pristine fruit ripening conditions, which Gherardi believes is crucial to producing outstanding wine.
"We weren't pushed by weather events, so we didn't have to pick early or adjust anything.
"We hit the 'sweet spot' on all of our Cabernet picks which led to a beautifully balanced wine."
The wine is wild fermented and made from 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes: a deliberate nod to the region's viticultural heritage.
"I think Cabernet Sauvignon can be phenomenal as a pure varietal wine," said Gherardi.
"It's the variety that put us on the map and the reason the region was originally selected for grape growing.
"This wine personifies the story of Margaret River, which is meaningful to me."
Of equal importance to Gherardi in the creation of the Riserva is the concept of time.
"In Italy, when they put Riserva on the label it's because they've added extra time to all steps of the winemaking process. This isn't just our top-tier wine; it's a true Riserva.
"We gave it 4.5 weeks on skins, 24 months in French oak barriques and a further 12 months of maturation in bottle before release," he said.
There were also no shortcuts in the winemaking process.
"We really babied this wine, from hand-picking and plunging, to basket pressing. It's resulted in remarkable complexity, delivered in a subtle, elegant package.
"We want to show one wine drinker at a time that just because it's an Aussie Cabernet doesn't mean it needs to be dialled up to 150.
"The beauty is that it doesn't slam you in the face with its characters - you have to tease them out of the wine."
The Riserva's release will be marked by a weekend of celebratory events at the cellar door in collaboration with West Australian pop-up dining sensation Fervor, to whom Gherardi draws a strong connection.
"Yoda [Paul Iskov, from Fervor] and I both approach our crafts with careful technique, but at the core of it is the quality of the raw materials.
"It's also about delivering an immersive food and wine experience in a stunning location on Country."
Iskov's feeling is mutual.
"I look forward to creating dishes that complement and highlight Rob's wines. We share a deep appreciation for Country and he produces incredibly elegant wines," he said.
With high demand seeing the Mr Barval x Fervor collaboration dinner on Saturday 27th February, 2021 sold out, an additional collaboration dinner will be held on Friday, February 26th.
Tickets to the Sunday collaboration sundowner are also available.
The Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva is priced at $90 per 750ML bottle and $220 for a hand-waxed 1.5L magnum under cork presented in a laser-etched wooden box.
Pre-release sales are exclusively available to Mr Barval Wine Family members, and the Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva will be released to the public via Mr Barval's website and cellar door on March 1, 2021.