When Glen Goodall arrived in Port Macquarie from New Zealand to visit his mum in 1989, he was a surfer with zero interest in wine. It didn’t stay that way for long.
“I thought, I can’t just bludge off mum, I better go get some work because I was there for a couple of months,” says Goodall. He found a gig planting vineyards at Cassegrain Wines in Port Macquarie. “The minute I got into the winery, the smell of the place, the comradery around vintage, it just clicked,” says Goodall.
The very green Goodall was taken under the tutelage of John Cassegrain and Cassegrain’s winemaker Drew Noon (now of McLaren Vale’s Noon Winery). “Drew was studying for his Master of Wine so he was getting these amazing wines from all over the world,” says Goodall. “He’d invite me up and say, ‘Hey, do you want to taste these with me? I didn’t know what I was tasting, but it just opened my eyes.”
In 1990, within six months of starting at Cassegrain, Goodall began a nine-year journey working vintage in some of the most iconic wine regions in the world. They included Bordeaux, California, Hawke’s Bay and a stint at South Africa’s Glen Carlou winery. “I was only a cellarhand there, [not even a] winemaker,” says Goodall of the Glen Carlou experience. “But the winemaker there, Walter Finlayson, gave me so much responsibility that he just treated me like a winemaker. That was when it all clicked.’”
Fast forward to 1999 and Goodall and wife Eloise Jarvis (also a winemaker) were living in WA’s Margaret River, where the industry was thriving enough to support two wine-inspired careers. “In 1999 I applied for a job in the newspaper for an assistant winemaker at Xanadu and here I am,” says Goodall.
Xanadu, success and the magic of Margaret River
In 2005 Goodall took the reins as Xanadu’s chief winemaker. Since that moment, Goodall and Xanadu have taken up plenty of space in the trophy cabinet, with 127 wine show trophies, 339 gold medals, best cabernet at the National Wine Show eight years in a row and the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2018. Now Goodall can add to that the 2023 Halliday Winemaker of the Year award. But Goodall is quick to remind the world that winemaking isn’t a one man show. “I’m thrilled but it also represents an absolute team effort,” says Goodall. “I’m just lucky enough to be the captain of the team.”
Goodall says the ethos of Xanadu is to let the wines tell the story of the region. “Margaret River wine has a wonderful sense of place,” says Goodall. “We’ve got this perfect amalgamation of Mediterranean, maritime climate, old soils and a lovely cooling sea breeze that comes through in the afternoon. We’re able to make wines that offer wonderful generosity and purity - that’s the simplest way of putting it.”
Styles and philosophy
While Xanadu’s vineyards produce an assortment of varieties like malbec, graciano and muscadelle (as well as local classics like the semillon sauvignon blend), the flagships are always cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. If you can still find it, the 2020 black label cabernet (the same wine that won the Jimmy Watson with the 2016 vintage) is stellar. “It’s got density,” says Goodall. “It’s got blackcurrant, mulberry, quite lifted rose petal and turkish delight elements, but then that underlying savoury sage, bay leaf characteristic that give you all the hallmarks of Margaret River.”
The current vintage of the chardonnay (2021), which sells at $40 a bottle, reflects Goodall’s desire to pare back the big, buttery style of the 1990s. “It’s got crunchy, white flesh stone fruit, white nectarine, and some grapefruit phenolic backbone to the wine,” says Goodall.
At the top of Xanadu’s tree sits the reserve label cabernet and chardonnay which – to the occasional chagrin of the accountants – only gets made on the best years. But that’s a demonstration of Goodall’s steadfast philosophy in listening to the vineyard.
“We don’t have a whole heap of fancy equipment,” says Goodall. “We don’t do any fining, we don’t add any tannins. We really just try to harness what the vineyard gives us. I think that’s the key – paying attention in the vineyard.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Xanadu Wines. Broadsheet readers can get 10 per cent off Xanadu Wines’ award-winning range with the discount code XANADU10.