Xanadu was established by Dr John Lagan, an Irishman, who arrived in Margaret River in 1968 and was inspired by the pioneering spirit of the region. At the time, the potential of Margaret River as one of the world’s finest wine-producing regions was only just being considered. So less than a decade on, Dr Lagan with his wife Eithne established one of the region’s earlier vineyards, planting his first vines in 1977. Lovers of literature will remember Xanadu as Samuel Coleridge’s mysterious, idyllic, exotic city; home of Kubla Khan. Dr Lagan, himself a great literature enthusiast, drew parallels between Coleridge’s visions of utopia and his newly adopted home, and thus the name Xanadu was born.
The 2017 growing season began with late budburst after a relatively cold, wet winter. The mild spring which followed ensured that there was good flowering and fruit set, in fact some yields needed to be addressed with crop thinning. Fine, mild conditions prevailed during summer, which ended up being one of the coolest growing seasons in recent years. Harvest commenced late, at the end of February. March was relatively wet with a significant rain event after most of the white fruit had been picked. Fortunately, the April that followed was glorious (the driest April since 1982 infact) with fine weather and no heat extremes experienced at all.
All the grapes were pressed without crushing, retaining relatively high solids in the juice after settling overnight. 65% of the blend was fermented in seasoned French oak barriques (only 5% new oak in final blend), the remaining 35% of the blend was fermented in tank using an aromatic yeast strain. Wild fermentation was encouraged on barrel fermented components, in order to introduce complexity and personality into the wine. All of the individual barrel fermented batches which make up the blend were lees stirred throughout a nine-month oak maturation period, without any malolactic fermentation; gaining texture throughout the year. The final blend was put together in November 2017.
The Xanadu Exmoor Drive Chardonnay is pale straw in colour. The bouquet of this fresh, fruit-driven Chardonnay displays honeydew melon, pear, and citrus characters with underlying hints of loquats and hay. Oak is merely a bystander, yet its subtle influence adds another layer to the fruit aromas. The palate is medium bodied offering gala apples and stone fruits with a delicate creamy texture derived from lees stirring. A bright refreshing wine; crisp and dry, with a lingering fruit finish. In conclusion, this is a fresh, fruit-driven style of Chardonnay, with oak simply playing a supporting role in the background. The wine is best consumed in its youth however certainly suitable for medium-term cellaring.