When Sarah Siddons (or "Sid" as she is known at Palandri) came along to guide us through her wines in the Tasting Tunnel at Standlake I liked her style. She allowed the crowd to dictate what depth they wanted to go to and even where they wanted to go. Winemaking is a very technical and complex business and it's easy to get into stuff that is hard for most people to understand, but Sarah really brought the tasting to life. Something about her manner encouraged people to ask questions from the start on subjects that they were interested in and in that way the tasting was very audience centered.
Sarah has a bachelor of Agricultural Science (Oenology) from the University of Adelaide and a bachelor of Science from La Trobe University. Her first role in winemaking was as a cellar hand at Andrew Garret Wines in McLaren Vale. In 1998 she moved to the Margaret River region to take on the role of Assistant Winemaker for Driftwood Estate.
In 1999 Sarah became Winemaker at the Wilton Estate in Griffith, New South Wales. From Griffith, Sarah returned to Western Australia and was appointed Winemaker at Baldivis Estate in Perth. When Baldivis was acquired by Palandri in May 2000, Sarah once again moved to the Margaret River and joined the Palandri team where she was appointed Senior Winemaker in September 2004.
"My role at Palandri provides me with the opportunity to make great wines from some of the best fruit available in Australia" she says. "With it's rugged coastline, fertile plains and majestic forests South Western Australia is not just a spectacular place, it's also a special place to make wine. Margaret River and Frankland River are two of Australia's coolest climate growing regions."
Palandri Wines is one of Australia's youngest premium wine companies. The winery is based in Western Australia's premium Margaret River region.
Established in 1999, Palandri launched its Solora range in 2000. The premium Palandri range followed in May 2002 and the Palandri Estate range was released in late 2002. Their state of the art winery is the second largest in the Margaret River region and the forth largest in Western Australia.
Sarah skilfully combines batches from Margaret River's warmer maritime climate with lots that have benefited from Frankland River's long cool ripening period to produce complex wines with great intensity and structure. Palandri are moving towards using Frankland River fruit exclusively as it is tighter, more structured and intense than the bigger, more generous Margaret River fruit. The 525 acre vineyard at Frankland has been compared to the Northern Rhone Valley in terms of soils and climate and so is particularly good for producing top class Shiraz.
This all sounds very good and proper, but the proof of the pudding (as they say) is in the eating and I have to say that all of Palandri's wines showed remarkably well at Sarah's tasting. The highlights for me were the Solora Semillon /Sauvignon 2003, a steal at £5.69, with its wonderfully fresh, zesty fruit and not a hint of oak.
The Palandri Estate Riesling 2003 was just amazing value for money at £7.35, showing intense petrol on the nose with superb freshening acidity (this wine won the Riesling Trophy at The International Wine Challenge last year and the Gold Medal in this year's Challenge). I loved the Solora Shiraz 2003 with its lifted, aromatic nose and excellent tight structure - great value at £5.69 and the Palandri Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (an excellent vintage) showed great concentration and complexity at the absurd price of £7.35 - I have tasted many Cabernets at twice the price which were nothing like as good.
So the conclusion that I personally came to after the tasting was that Sarah makes excellent wine from one of the best areas of Australia and that her wine is very reasonably priced - all that experience of hers has really paid off. We hope to see Sid again soon.