Vintage at Devil’s Lair
Chief Winemaker, Oliver Crawford.
Photos & Interview by Mark Boskell
With Vintage coming to an end for 2013, I caught up with Oliver Crawford, Chief Winemaker at Devil’s Lair, for a quick chat about this year’s crop.
You’re nearing the end of vintage. How is this year shaping up?
Whites are looking fantastic, in particular our Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. It is early days for reds but our Cabernets are looking pleasing.
How’s the weather been? Hot summer but a mid-vintage turn to the cold and the wet.
A cool start to the year and then Bam! Christmas day was the start of the heat, but it was not extreme heat which is good. The growing season has favoured the whites.
You remarked on an image featuring some barrels marked up for 9th chamber chardonnay. What can you tell me about this wine?
Ninth Chamber is named after the ninth archaeological dig in the cave. The dig that found the fossilised remains of the Thylacine that Devil’s Lair is named after. Ninth Chamber represents ‘the best of the best’. It is a select parcel from the vineyard (usually about 5 tonne) and then a barrel selection in the winery. It highlights what Devil’s Lair does best.
Do you have a favourite part of the wine-making process through the year?
There are a few. The start is always exciting. A new vintage a new journey. Seeing all our premium wines go to barrel is always exciting and rewarding.
Devil’s Lair sits at the southern end of the Margaret River Wine Region. What’s special about this location?
Margaret River is influenced by two oceans – the Indian Ocean in the Northern part and the Southern Ocean in the southern Part. Devil’s Lair is strongly influenced by the Southern Ocean so our site is one of the coolest on the region making it ideal for growing white varieties. We source the bulk of our red varieties from Northern Margaret River where it is warmer.
Where does the Devil’s Lair name come from?
It is named after a nearby cave. The founder of Devil’s Lair – Phil Sexton – had a passion for archaeology and actually did a dig in the cave when he was at University. The name comes as a result of finding a fossilised skeleton of a Tasmanian Tiger along with a mysterious fifth leg (presumed to be a Tasmanian Devil).
You moved from the Barossa a few years ago. What attracted you here?
The lifestyle as much as anything, but also an opportunity to work with Margaret River fruit (one of the few regions I have not worked with) and to take Devil’s Lair to the next level.
What’s your favourite drop at the moment?
Hmmm. Hard to say. I do not have a particular favourite. I always like trying different wines. That is the beauty of wine there is so much diversity out there.