The Ultimate Series
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It's no secret that Leeuwin Estate produces some of Australia's finest wines which consistently receive acclaim across Australia and all over the world. Paul Atwood is the Senior Winemaker at Leeuwin and, among other things, is personally responsible for The Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon which has been included in UK Decanter Magazine's Top 50 wines of the year. Paul generously took some time out to answer a few questions for our growing collection of 'Meet the Winemaker' conversations.
How long have you worked at Leeuwin?
What made you want to become a winemaker?
I started my working life as an Apprentice Chef which brought me into contact with wines that I would not normally have seen. I loved the interaction of food and wine and the textures and flavours that are involved with every mouthful. After completing my apprenticeship I found that my love of wines was drawing me away from cooking and I started to work in vineyards to gain a greater understanding. This ultimately led me to wanting to make and produce wines.
Which winemakers do you most look up to and why?
Bob was a senior winemaker at Leeuwin Estate for 28 years and developed many new techniques and, of course, the style of the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay which has become consistently Australia's greatest Chardonnay.
Bob was ahead of his time in understanding the technical details to making great wine and was responsible for bringing the type of barrels into Australia that are now a mainstay of the industry.
What, if anything, do you find stressful about your job?
I don't find my job so stressful but exciting, especially when harvest is pending. Spending so much time watching the fruit develop then deciding when to pick and what processes to put the grapes through to get the very best out of each small batch. There is only one chance to get it right every year.
What wine are you proudest of?
I would have to say the Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was a wine I was put in charge of from the 2003 vintage and have had free rein to develop the wine into a more modern and approachable style whilst keeping the ageability that it is known for. The brief was to make this wine as recognisable as the Art Series Chardonnay as one of Leeuwin Estate's two greatest wines released every year.
What is your favourite wine and why? What do you drink it with?
I have always felt there is so much more in the complexity of flavours, textures and smells that are evident compared to other wines. The wine can change so much in the glass over time but will retain its distinction that it is Cabernet Sauvignon whilst showing more diversity of flavour characteristics and interest as it ages.