When Phil and Viv Snowden retired from their mining consulting business in 2007 their attention turned to their long-held passion for making and enjoying great wine. For many years they had only the occasional opportunity to pursue the latter!
Their research of the principal wine regions of Australia and New Zealand confirmed their desire to settle in one of Australia’s regions where cool climate wines of outstanding quality could be produced.
Tucked away in the south west corner of Western Australia, Phil and Viv discovered the beautiful Denmark wine sub-region (of the Great Southern wine region) centred on the small town of Denmark, bounded to the south by a dramatically rugged coastline and the roaring Southern Ocean. The coast gives way to an amazingly beautiful hinterland with rivers winding through forests and gentle valleys.
Furthermore, to their great surprise, here was a region similar in size to the Margaret River and Mornington Peninsula wine growing regions, already producing high quality cool climate wines that were known to some but generally flew under the radar of many wine lovers.
As their research progressed, it became apparent to Phil and Viv that the Denmark wine region punched well above its weight when its wines were judged in national wine competitions. Clearly, here was a gem of a wine region, already delivering superb wines but which was still to be discovered by many wine lovers.
Possibly the reason for the Denmark wine region’s understated image is that, compared to the other regions of Australia that produce fine wine, it is a little way off the beaten track, being located five hours drive from Perth, four hours drive from Margaret River and one hour west of the town of Albany.
Many of Denmark’s established vineyards are located within the beautiful Scotsdale Valley where the river dissection has resulted in carefully sculptured steep-sided valleys, underlain by rich karri loam soils, providing the perfect setting for vineyard cultivation.
Denmark wine region’s has striking geology and geomorphology and its near perfect climate for growing cool climate grape varieties. The area straddles the 35 degree latitude line. Rain falls dominantly through the winter months (May to November) and the average annual rainfall is just over 1000 mm. The area’s mean January temperature is 19.4 degrees C which is lower than that of both the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley in Victoria’s well established wine growing regions. Overall the Denmark region presents a terroir remarkably similar to that of France’s Burgundy region, the key difference being the Burgundy region’s colder winters.
Satisfied that the Denmark region has the “terroir” to produce world class cool climate wines, Phil and Viv acquired the Scotsdale Valley Estate property located in the heart of the Scotsdale Valley just 7 km from the town of Denmark to produce their Singlefile Estate wines. The property, with its north and northwest facing slopes and two permanent water courses, already hosts plantings of 25-year old chardonnay, merlot and shiraz varieties and was judged to be perfectly suited to the planting of pinot noir, riesling, semillon and sauvignon blanc, along with other lesser known varieties. New plantings of selected varieties are now being planned.
Singlefile Estate released 500 cases in 2008. In 2009, 1500 cases were produced and in 2010, Singlefile Estate will double production to 3000 cases by including high quality parcels of fruit sourced from their growers in the region.
Singlefile Estate wines have been readily accepted onto the wine lists of several of Perth and Melbourne’s very best restaurants including Gourmet Traveller magazine winners – Restaurant Amuse, Star Anise, Must Winebar, Divido, Bistro Felix and Balthazar (Perth) and Taxi Dining Room and Ezard (Melbourne). Furthermore the wines have achieved considerable success in both local and national wine competitions. For example the Singlefile Estate 2008 Shiraz was awarded a silver medal in the “Jimmy Watson” shiraz category of the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, being one of the top 10% of the 300 entrants in this category. In addition Singlefile Estate’s 2008 Merlot was awarded a silver medal at the Mount Barker Qantas Wine Show, achieving the highest score for merlot in the competition.
Sommeliers, wine writers and wine critics have drawn attention to the “French styling” of the Singlefile Estate wines, with their modest levels of alcohol (around 13%) and their soft but refined taste characteristics which are particularly food friendly and readily complement a quality dining experience.
Singlefile Estate is the product of the collaboration of a family owned business involving two generations so far with daughter and son-in-law Pam and Patrick Corbett running the operations from Perth. It is operated with the help of the very best viticulturists and winemakers. In the spring of 2010 Singlefile Estate will open its cellar sales establishment on its estate in Denmark. Singlefile Estate is planning today with its heart firmly focussed on the future. Read less