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,”—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.

The Range

Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2023
Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2023
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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 Ørange In Colour 2023
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Blind Corner Wilyabrup Governo 2021
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Blind Corner Wilyabrup Governo 2021

Biodynamic. Following his Ramato-style Pinot Grigio and Ripasso-inspired Cabernets, Ben Gould gives this 100% Sauvignon Blanc the ancient Tuscan winemaking treatment. Governo is a fascinating, if largely forgotten, traditional method of winemaking called Governo all' Uso Toscano, which involves inducing a second fermentation by adding a small percentage of dried grapes. For this wine, a portion of grapes was picked early by hand and air-dried before spontaneous fermentation on skins. The remaining grapes were basket-pressed and naturally fermented in a combination of old French oak, stainless steel and concrete egg. These batches were combined and the lees occasionally stirred for seven months before being bottled cloudy to maintain a nice orange hue. Like Sauvignon Blanc smuggled from an exotic bazaar, this wine has a familiar taste but with additional characters of blackcurrant flower, mandarin and Moroccan spice. The taste goes beyond what you expect from Sauvignon Blanc, transporting your mood to far-flung lands.

Blind Corner Wilyabrup Governo 2021
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Blind Corner Crémant 2022
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Blind Corner Crémant 2022

Yet another delicious sparkling wine from the Gould family’s Blind Corner stable. Grown on Blind Corner’s Quindalup vineyard (certified organic and biodynamic), this crémant is made from a single block of Chenin Blanc, picked by hand and pressed as whole bunches to barrel. The wine is then transferred to bottle with 20 to 24 g/L of residual sugar remaining and allowed to finish its fermentation to dryness. After 18 months on lees, the wine is riddled and disgorged on-site by hand. It’s a nitrous oxide of sparkling wine and an ultimate poolside, beachside, street-side treat.

Blind Corner Crémant 2022
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Blind Corner Blanc 2023
Blind Corner Blanc 2023
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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 Blanc 2023
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Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2021
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Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2021

This year's Orange is 93% Sauvignon with a smidge of Chenin Blanc, sourced from the Blind Corner Quindalup vineyard and from selected like-minded organic partners in Margaret River. Soils are predominantly sand over pea gravel with a granite base. Organic and biodynamically reared grapes were added to a rolling wild ferment. 

There's been just enough skin contact for that teensy pucker, but this year Gould has also added some Estate-grown Cabernet to make your eyes understand what your tongue is trying to tell you.

Blind Corner Ørange In Colour 2021
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Blind Corner Wilyabrup Bernard 2019
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Blind Corner Wilyabrup Bernard 2019

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.

Blind Corner Wilyabrup Bernard 2019
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Country

Australia

Primary Region

Margaret River, Western Australia

People

Winemaker: Ben Gould

Availability

VIC, ACT, QLD

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