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Blind Corner

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.” It’s a refreshing opening gambit if ever we’ve heard one. He continued: “We’re certainly going to try our very best to make something 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 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 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 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 they’d been working organically sold from under them, the Goulds took the plunge on an established vineyard. The 30-hectare property, 18 hectares under vine amid bushland, lies 19km northeast of the Wilyabrup site at Quindalup. Gould wasted no time converting the site to organic and biodynamic while grafting over portions of established rootstock to varieties such as Aligoté (a Margaret River first), Pinot Grigio and a Brunello clone of Sangiovese. The Wilyabrup vineyard was certified organic and biodynamic in 2016, a year before Quindalup earned the same distinction. In the years since, the Goulds have streamlined their operation, selling Wilyabrup and giving up their leased properties to focus solely on the home site in Quindalup.

The property lies on the coastal flats, flanked by the Indian Ocean four kilometres to the north and eight kilometres to the west. The sandy soils have pea gravel (seven to 10 metres) over porous coffee rock and ironstone (25 metres) underneath. Alongside strict organic practices, Ben and Naomi use cover crops extensively, allowing them to grow up to seven metres tall before crimping them. They use a finger weeder for all under-vine work to further promote soil health and biodiversity. This hands-on approach translates to the cellar. Where possible, everything is done in-house. Together, they run the vineyard, make the wines, look after the books and bottle each wine on-site using their beloved bottling machine, which has seen more vintages than we’ve had hot dinners. The property is run on solar power, most of the vines are dry-grown and Ben even uses homemade biodiesel (thanks to the local fish and chip shop) to supplement Blind Corner’s power needs.

The winemaking is simple. As a small-batch vigneron, Ben likes to work with a wide range of vessels, including concrete eggs, barrels (old), tanks and qvevri. Gould is fervently anti-manipulation, so save for a bit of 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 to write about this producer without mentioning the outstanding value on offer, even if there is so much more to this Margaret River avant-gardist.

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.

 

Currently Available

Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2023

Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2023

In an exciting development, fruit for this year’s Ørange In Colour was sourced entirely from Ben and Naomi’s Quindalup vineyard (‘home’, as they call it). It’s an organic- and biodynamic-certified site, with typical soils of sand over pea gravel on a granite base. This year’s blend is 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. Hand-harvested fruit fermented spontaneously on skins with plunging by hand for the first few days before pressing to tank and barrique. The wine went through full malolactic conversion. From another excellent vintage for the region, the 2023 is an expressive, flavourful wine with lip-smacking intensity and juicy appeal.

Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2023
Blind Corner Quindalup Cabernet 2021

Blind Corner Quindalup Cabernet 2021

Employing elements of appassimento—inspired by the wines of Valpolicella—this is a fascinating Cabernet, totally different to anything we know of on the market. It comes from two blocks in the Blind Corner Quindalup vineyard, where the soils are sand over pea gravel with a granite base. The fruit was fermented naturally with no acid additions or fining. Maturation occurred in mature oak. A portion of the ferment was first air-dried before fermentation (appassimento), a process intended to soften and lengthen the wine’s tannic frame while adding layers of flavour complexity.

It’s a sappy, spicy, nettle and wild berry-noted, complex (and natty-styled) Cabernet from left field!

Blind Corner Quindalup Cabernet 2021
Blind Corner Quindalup Nouveau 2022

Blind Corner Quindalup Nouveau 2022

Biodynamic. Blind Corner’s compulsively drinkable Nouveau is sourced from a parcel of 20-plus-year-old Quindalup Shiraz vines. The fruit went through carbonic maceration at 5°C for two weeks in stainless steel before being crushed by foot and basket-pressed to old barrels for a few months’ maturation. This juicy, earthy, lip-smacking light red goes down a treat.

This is a juicy and earthy, natty light red that goes down a treat. Get yourself a bottle and drink it chilled.

Blind Corner Quindalup Nouveau 2022
Blind Corner Blanc 2023

Blind Corner Blanc 2023

This outstanding-value wine is Ben Gould’s riff on the Margaret River Classic Dry White—but replace ‘classic’ with ‘delicious’, and you’ll get closer. This year’s blend is 86% Sauvignon Blanc and 14% Semillon. Both come from blocks of established 20-plus-year-old biodynamic vines at Quindalup on soils of sand and gravel over granite. After harvesting by hand, the fruit was pressed to a combination of stainless steel, old French barriques and a concrete egg for fermentation. Once the wines completed malolactic conversion, they were blended and bottled without fining.

Blind Corner Blanc 2023
Blind Corner Quindalup Sangiovese 2022

Blind Corner Quindalup Sangiovese 2022

Ben Gould’s experience in Italy is writ large at Blind Corner—the ancient techniques of ramato, ripasso and appassimento are prominent across the range. Lamenting the lack of quality material available in WA, Gould shipped over some cuttings of the respected Brunello clone of Sangiovese, which today makes up eight rows in his biodynamic Quindalup vineyard. Capitalising on the merits of this young-vine fruit, at this stage, Gould is aiming for an easy-drinking, succulent rosso—something delicious and authentically tangy to wash down that pizza or BBQ. The grapes were foot-crushed or hand-plunged and then basket-pressed into old oak. The wine was bottled unfiltered after nine months. It’s a deliciously expressive, jubey red loaded with sweet cherry fruit and a spicy, peppery close.

Capitalizing on the merits of this young-vine fruit, at this stage Gould is aiming for an easy-drinking, succulent rosso—something delicious and authentically tangy to wash down that pizza or BBQ. The grapes were all foot-crushed or hand-plunged and then basket-pressed into old oak. The wine was bottled unfiltered after nine months. It’s a deliciously expressive, jubey red loaded with sweet cherry fruit and a spicy, peppery close. Gold.

Blind Corner Quindalup Sangiovese 2022
Blind Corner Wilyabrup Bernard 2017

Blind Corner Wilyabrup Bernard 2017

Qantas Magazine has previously described this wine as, “like Margaret River Cabernet with the volume turned way up”. Ben Gould likes to think his Bernard Cab is more like watching a band live versus hearing them on the radio. Either way, this deep, punchy Cab is made from a single block of Cabernet Sauvignon on Blind Corner's Wilyabrup vineyard, certified organic and biodynamic since 2016. Taking its cue from Valpolicella’s Amarone, Gould handpicks his fruit and air-dries the bunches prior to fermentation. He finds this intensifies the fruit flavours, gives the wine a more potent edge and softens and lengthens the wine’s tannins. The grapes are then foot-crushed and hand-plunged during spontaneous fermentation, then basket pressed to mature French oak barrels. There, the blend matures for 12 months before being bottled without fining.

Qantas Magazine has previously described this wine as, “like Margaret River Cabernet with the volume turned way up”. Ben Gould likes to think his Bernard Cab is more like watching a band live versus hearing them on the radio. Either way, this deep, punchy Cab is made from a single block of Cabernet Sauvignon on Blind Corner's Wilyabrup vineyard, certified organic and biodynamic in 2016.

Blind Corner Wilyabrup Bernard 2017
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“Ben and Naomi Gould are the dynamic duo behind this biodynamically farmed enterprise, created in ’05 when they owned a site in Wilyabrup. Realising a larger vineyard was needed, they bought a property at Quindalup in ’14. Working to create the harmonious ecosystem of today, they encourage native species back onto the land, and gaps between the vines are planted with native flora or transplanted evergreen shrubs to encourage diversity. They are constantly experimenting (they have two Georgian qvevri buried onsite in bushland), achieving, failing, learning, and achieving again. They have chooks roaming the vineyard, bees for pollination and honey, and everything is about a holistic approach.”

★★★★ Halliday Wine Companion

Country

Australia

Primary Region

Margaret River, Western Australia

People

Winemaker: Ben Gould

Availability

VIC, ACT, QLD, NSW

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