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Barefoot Margaret River from A Biodynamic High-achiever
When we first met, Ben Gould told us “We have no illusions that we’re going to make trophy-winning wines or the best wines in Western Australia,”—a refreshing opening gambit if ever we’ve heard one. He continued, “We’re certainly going to try our very best to make something that’s reflective of where we grow our grapes, and while we don’t always get things spot on, we’re proud to pour our wines to good people.” The name Blind Corner gives you some insight into Gould’s nature as a vigneron. In short, you shouldn’t come here expecting just another Margaret River producer. The organic certification and the pricing should make that clear.
After his father sold the family’s Deep Woods vineyard in Yallingup in 2005, Gould and his wife Naomi put everything on red, choosing to sell their house to fund the purchase of a small four-hectare vineyard at Wilyabrup. While their new patch of dirt was being weaned off irrigation and chemicals, the pair took off to Europe. Before leaving Margaret River, Gould had already developed a strong interest in organic viticulture, a passion that became armour-plated after visiting some of Europe’s more storied regions. Upon his return, Gould took a job at Howard Park Wines while he bootstrapped his fledgling estate together, doing much of the work himself, borrowing what he could and fixing up old, dilapidated equipment that would have been impossible for him to buy new. The first years at Blind Corner proved to be a trial by fire, with Gould not only having to work two jobs but also working leased parcels to supplement his own small yields.
There’s a core of energy and bohemian spirit running the length of Blind Corner’s eclectic range, making the wines so damn digestible, delicious, unpretentious and easy to drink.
Come 2015; tired of seeing vineyards owned by others but that he had been working organically himself, sold from under him, the Goulds took the plunge on an established 20-hectare vineyard 19km to the northeast, at Quindalup. Surrounded on three sides by the ocean, Gould wasted no time in converting the previously conventional viticulture to organic and biodynamic, while also grafting over portions of established rootstock to varieties such as Aligoté (a Margaret River first) and a Brunello clone of Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio. In 2016 the Wilyabrup vineyard was certified organic and biodynamic, followed by Quindalup in 2017, and, lastly, in 2018 Blind Corner’s Yallingup vineyard joined the ranks.
Despite Gould’s sophistication as a winemaker, the Blind Corner shed is stripped back to the bare essentials. There’s a basket press, a salvaged and refurbished bladder press, simple flowerpot fermenters, a concrete egg and not a skerrick of new wood. His beloved, second-hand bottling machine has seen more vintages than we’ve had hot dinners. The winemaking, too, is simple in its sophistication. Gould is fervently anti-manipulation, so save for a little sulphur at bottling, he’s happy to leave the other possible 57 legal additions to his neighbours near and far. The region’s infamous mobile concentrators have no place in this little corner of Margaret River. Refreshingly, where most would add acid to tighten up their Chardonnay, Gould uses Aligoté, a variety that holds its freshness under the Margaret River sun.
It’s hard not to write about this producer without mentioning the outstanding value on offer, even if there is so much more to mention about this excellent Margaret River progressive. There’s also a core of energy and bohemian spirit running the length of Blind Corner’s eclectic range, making the wines so damn digestible, delicious, unpretentious and easy to drink. You can almost taste the passion of down-to-earth, talented growers living out their dream.
Ben & Naomi Gould
We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate in Melbourne, and pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners of lands across Australia, their Elders, Ancestors, cultures and heritage, and recognise the continuing sovereignties of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations.
Warning: under the liquor control reform act 1998 it is an offence; to supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years (penalty exceeds $7000); for a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor (penalty exceeds $500)