Cloudburst cabernet sauvignon: the great story behind this $300 bottle of wine

Why this $300 wine is always sold out

Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon

The great story behind this $300 bottle of wine

Words by Ute Junker

Originally published in Australian Financial Review

“The wines have great intensity but are uniquely refined and elegant for their region,” says sommelier Dan Wegener, owner of Perth’s Il Lido. “The cabernet overshadows most Margaret River wines with its sophistication and restraint. It’s consistently among the very best.”

Another fan is Colin Thoreen, wine director of New York’s Ai Fiori restaurant, who showcases Cloudburst wines on his wine list. (The only other Australian winery on his 1800-strong list of labels is Victoria’s By Farr.)

Thoreen describes Cloudburst as “a very restrained, very mineral-driven, more Burgundian style. It also has this great story where everything is done by one person, more or less.”

Thoreen is right: Cloudburst does have a great story, one with improbable twists. The first of them relates to its founder, Will Berliner, and his wine industry background. Make that his lack of one. In fact, when Berliner – an American businessman and film producer – bought a parcel of land in Margaret River, WA, a little over a decade ago, he had no intention of getting into the wine business. He was actually planning to grow avocados, until an agronomist pointed out that his soils were better suited to growing grapes.

Having committed himself to grape-growing, Berliner gave himself a crash course in wine, tasting his way through many of the world’s best vintages. “I thought this would be my late-in-life project. I decided I wasn’t interested in making an everyday wine. I want to make something that sings in the glass.”

Berliner takes a low-intervention approach on his pocket-sized vineyard (he is harvesting off 8000 square metres), shunning irrigation and insecticides. “My idea is to alter the ecology gradually, allowing nature to do the work; I’m not interested in trying to do an instant vineyard.”

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