The secret's out

Margaret River Chardonnay is taking off

Hi Eamon,

In all my travels, I've found it pretty hard to find a wine region that isn’t incredibly beautiful.

But I reckon Margaret River takes the top spot.

An oasis in the desert

Located in the far south-western corner of Australia, Margaret River is the most remote wine region in the world. Although Perth is two hours north, it’s otherwise surrounded by ocean and outback.

With its endless beaches and forests, wineries and laid-back, surfing culture, it’s an incredible place to visit.

It’s not only paradise to look at - it's also the perfect environment for growing premium grapes.

As a peninsula surrounded by ocean on three sides, you get warm breezes from the Indian Ocean in the winter and cooling breezes from the Southern Ocean in summer. This means it never gets too hot or too cold.

And you get lots of well-drained, loamy, gravelly soils with a great mix of ancient rock types - just like in Bordeaux.

Punching well above its weight

Margaret River is a tiny region by Australian standards - it produces just 2% of its wine by volume.

But it accounts for 10% of its value - this is the most prestigious and expensive wine region in the country.

A big reason for this, aside from the quality, is that serious money has flowed into the region from the mining boom in western Australia.

But there’s a small handful of defiant, independent souls still hanging about, who are not owned by billionaires or giant corporates, and making wines they want to drink and be proud of.

Step forward Nigel Ludlow

Nigel is one of the most passionate and genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet in the wine industry.

Born in New Zealand, he started out his career as a nutritionist. An early mid-life crisis however led him to become a diver, triathlete and then finally a winemaker.

After stints in New Zealand, Spain and Chile, he fell in love with the beauty of Margaret River, and found a job working for a big winery.

Nigel tells me working in this corporate environment however made him ‘sadder and sadder every day’.

So he decided to make a little bit of wine on the side. He started with two barrels of Chardonnay in his garage in 2007, and Evoi Wines was born.

A smart part of town

Nigel gets his Chardonnay from a magic spot in the famed Wilyabrup area of Margaret River. This is where iconic names such as Vasse Felix and Cullen get their fruit - and charge €100+ per bottle for the wine.

When I asked Nigel to describe the vineyard, he said *insert Aussie accent* ‘it looks like sh*t’. It’s very rocky and scruffy, and the vines produce very small and very green berries.

But it’s one of the best vineyards in Margaret River.

He tells me (dead serious) that if he ever lost access to this fruit, he’d give up making wine for good. I told you he was passionate!

This shouldn't work, but it does

When it comes to making his Chardonnay, Nigel tells me he’s basically unlearned everything he was taught in winemaking school.

He machine-picks to end up with ‘dirty juice’, all of which he throws straight into barrel. Fermentation starts slowly and naturally from the wild yeasts on the grapes.

At this stage that the liquid is brown, almost mud-like.

But it works - during fermentation ‘there’s lots of stuff to chew on’, which results in a Chardonnay loaded with character.

What finally comes out 12 months later is an unbelievably refined, refreshing and elegant Chardonnay, full of fleshy tropical fruit, great texture and a lovely nutty finish.

The timing couldn’t be better - try Evoi 2021 Chardonnay here

I poured this wine on our Spring Tastings last month, and it was loved by customers and winemakers alike.

Especially Kat Darnault, Ben’s Australian-born wife, who kept coming back to me for a sneaky top-up!

You’ll find several glowing 5/5 reviews from your fellow members on the site, describing it as 'Exceptional', 'Burgundy quality', and 'Margaret River at its best'.

I can feel real momentum building around this wine - so there's never been a better time to grab a few bottles.

And if you’d like to try Nigel’s other wines, we have The Satyr, a Bordeaux blend, and his Reserve Chardonnay in stock here. The perfect wines for the sunnier times ahead!

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