Xanadu Winery – Q&A with Winemaker Glenn Goodall

Senior Winemaker Glenn Goodall - Xanadu WineryXanadu Winery is based in WA’s Margaret River region and they are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. As part of the celebrations, they’ll be serving up their special White Wine Sangria at the Urban Orchard Pop-Up Bar at the Perth Food Truck Rumble on Sunday 26th March. To help celebrate such a milestone for Xanadu Winery and the upcoming Food Truck Rumble, I recently had the chance to ask Xanadu’s Senior Winemaker, Glenn Goodall, a few questions about his career, Xanadu and the 2017 harvest. Here’s how it went…

Q: 40 Years is an amazing milestone for a winery, during your time at Xanadu (1999-now) what would you say have been the highlights?

A:Purchasing the Stevens Road Vineyard in 2008 was a big milestone, it provides some incredibly good Chardonnay which supplements the great fruit we have coming off our Reserve Chardonnay (Lagan Estate) blocks. There’s some pretty smart Cabernet from Stevens Road too, and there is no doubt that the 2011 Stevens Road Cabernet being named as James Halliday’s Wine of the Year (99 pts.) in 2015 was a real highlight for the team.

Individual wine show results are great, but consistency is really important. Margaret River has been blessed with some wonderful vintages (in the last decade in particular) which have helped us to win the last for consecutive ‘Best Cabernet’ Trophies, at the National Wine Show of Australia, including The Len Evans Memorial Trophy for Champion Wine of Show in 2013 was also a major highlight.

Q: It’s always so hard to decide what wine to drink, let alone what wineries to visit when visiting a wine region like Margaret River. What would you say are Xanadu’s points of difference?

A: Well, we have a great restaurant which always make any wine experience even more enjoyable. We also offer a range of single vineyard wines, (certainly both the Stevens Road and Lagan Estate have their own DNA when it comes to Chardonnay and Cabernet). We also try to offer some unique small production runs of wines like Graciano, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Viognier.  We even have some single vineyard fortifieds at our cellar door, with a sneaky Stevens Road Tokay project which has been on the go for a long time now – about to be released soon at Cellar Door only.

Q: You’re currently in the midst of the 2017 vintage, how is it shaping up and should we be making a beeline for 2017 Margaret River wines once released?

A: The Chardonnays we have harvested so far have been stunning, but it’s a pretty late season so the jury is still out on the other varieties at this stage sorry. Watch this space!

Q: What do you see in the future for the Margaret River region and the wines being produced?

A: Celebrating style diversity, but still focusing on our strengths; Chardonnay, Cabernet and Sauv/Sem blends.

In my opinion Chard and Cab will always be blue ribbon varieties, I look forward to the day when the Old world looks towards Margaret River for inspiration! As long as the variety and the vineyards are the loudest voice in the glass, then Margaret River will be well positioned to maintain a strong foothold, and even increase our position for these varieties on the global stage.

Q: Hailing from New Zealand, you’ve worked and travelled to some amazing wine regions around the world, which region would you recommend that all wine lovers visit and why?

A: Margaret River of course! Pristine environment, great food and wines, fantastic surf, stunning beaches and forests what more could you want? This recommendation may sound parochial, but it is not without perspective – I have worked in some amazing places around the world (Cape Wine region on South Africa is particularly beautiful), but honesty, sometimes I think we take for granted how lucky we are to be living and making wine in Margaret River.

Q: How would you describe your approach to winemaking and viticulture?

A: Firstly; winemaking is a team sport. I’m very lucky to have a great team at Xanadu, both in the vineyard and the winery. Obviously, I tend to be the person making most of the critical decisions, but it’s rarely without taking into account the valuable opinions of the rest of the team.

Having deep respect for the vineyard is really critical– this is really where our wines are made. I make sure I stay engaged with our Viticulturist, Suzie Muntz, and our other Growers ensuring they really buy into the concept of ‘wine growing’ (not just grape growing). The next most important factor is harvest decisions; I regularly walk a lot of rows and taste a lot of fruit during vintage to get a handle on any variability in blocks (and pick separately if necessary).

I can’t stress enough how important the timing of harvest (and all the logistics which goes with it) is to style and quality. I probably spend more time thinking about harvesting decisions than blending decisions to be honest. If we can get it right in the vineyard the winemaking itself is usually a fairly intuitive approach.

Xanadu diary 7: Glenn sampling fruit at Cape Landing #xanadudiaries #vintage2017

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Q: Which wine from the Xanadu range would you say reflects your personality the best and why?

A: Oooh that’s a hard one! Maybe Stevens Road Chardonnay? It has a unique personality, and it is generally a wine which is more ‘substance over style’ . . . ask anyone about my fashion sense and you’ll see what I mean. (I’d probably wear steel capped thongs to work if they made them!).

A big thank you to Glenn for taking the time to answer these questions, especially at such a busy time of year! For more information on Xanadu, make sure to check out the Xanadu Winery website and follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...