MARGARET RIVER | I’d heard a lot of good things about the wines from LS Merchants while in lockdown over in Melbourne, and was super keen to visit when I finally managed to get back to WA in February this year.
I only had one day in the Margaret River region, primarily focused on breweries, but there wasn’t a chance that I was going miss checking out LS Merchants. And boy am I glad that I did.
The winery was started by Blenheim, New Zealand born, Geelong raised winemaker Dylan Arvidson in 2015. Dylan moved to Margaret River in 2009 after being offered a job at Juniper Estate. Dylan’s favourite variety to make and drink was (and still is) Chardonnay, but he soon realised that he had a passion for finding obscure varieties or fruit not typically well known in Margaret River, and making it into the best possible example of that variety.
Dylan decided to go all in on experimentation, focusing on flavour rather than analytics, with a back-to-basics approach, and has gone from strength to strength since. Today, LS make more than twenty different varieties, styles and blends with fruit from Swan Valley to the Great Southern. All made with a minimalistic winemaking approach, wild fermentation where possible and a lot of experimentation; the former to express the varietal characters, the latter to push the boundaries of conventional winemaking and produce interesting and enticing styles.
LS uses fruit from two organic-in-conversion vineyards that they lease, but the majority comes from a catalogue of growers across Western Australia. They work with like minded growers across the region, and also collaborate with complimentary makers in the region. Their barrels are used by breweries like Beerfarm, to barrel age beers, for example, and they work closely with chefs pushing the boundaries of food in the region.
Back to my own LS experience, then. I just got in for a tasting before closing, late on a Friday afternoon, and was blown away by the wines that I tried. I have done a lot of wine tastings around the world over the years, and don’t think I’ve ever visited one where I not only tried such a diverse, extensive range of wines, but also was super impressed by each and every one.
At the end of the tasting, not only did I buy a few bottles to ship back to Melbourne, but I did something I’ve never done before. I subscribed to their quarterly wine club. I’ve received my first lot of wine club wines since, and have also done multiple orders, and am still to encounter a dud.
Is LS Merchants my favourite winery in Australia? Quite possibly. Simply put, they’re producing some of the most exciting, innovative, and delicious wines in Australia at the moment.
163 Treeton Road North
Western Australia 6284
Sun – Fri: 10:30am to 4:30pm
Sat: 10:30am to 6:00pm