Dormilona: lazy bones winemaking that is anything but
In Spanish Dormilona means ‘lazy bones.’ In the wine world however, it refers to the tantalising wines of Margaret River winemaker, Josephine Perry (who was nicknamed ‘Dormilona’ in Spain given she would always be finding a sweet spot to tuck herself into bed after those late-night Spanish dinners). Coming out of Yallingup WA, Perry is shaking up the scene of traditional Western Australian wine with her incredible range of small batch, new generation, hand crafted wines. Wines that have earnt Josephine Perry many awards including the 2016 Young Gun of Wine.
For Perry, life was always embroiled in winemaking. As a child she would experiment with her grandfather (a brewer at Old Swan Brewery), blowing up lemonade under her parent’s floorboards or making apricot wine for a high school science class (something that earned her a detention). From age 14 she began working vintages, starting with Cape Mentelle, and working her way around the world to Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, California, and New Zealand. All through this time she studied her degree in Oenology by correspondence from Charles Sturt University. This led her to managing two wineries (Bodegas Vina Nora and Pasoz del Ray) in Spain, as well as consulting to a winery in the Canary Islands.
Dormilona was born as a concept in 2011, with the first vintage produced in 2013. Since then, Perry has been producing thrilling, electric wines with a complex structure and tight texture. Her time working in the Northern hemisphere has informed her more hands off approach to winemaking. You could call it lazy, but we’d prefer to call it intuitive. “I do everything by touch, smell and taste,” says Perry, who claims “the best laboratory is your palate.” Perry doesn’t test for things like pH or TA and only sends her wines to the lab for testing if she feels something is amiss. A truly innovative style of wine making for the highly conservative region of Margaret River.
Now while her vinification processes may be ‘lazy bones’ in style, the rigor in Perry’s methods lie in farming. Assisted by her viticulturalist husband Jimmy, Perry sources the highest quality fruit from biodynamic vineyards all over Margaret River. In the cellar her work is driven by the philosophy that the fruit itself will determine the direction the wine wants to take: “I let the fruit tell me what it feels like doing.” There is no fining, filtration, no oak signatures. Élevage is primarily in tank, clay or barrel and at bottling Perry errs on the side of small to medium sulphur content. What results is a wine truly expressive of the varietal and the terroir, with exciting variations vintage to vintage. Perhaps most exciting from the Dormilona family is the Clayface range, which are matured entirely in terracotta amphorae – clay pots that hark back to 6000BC. The Clayface range features a cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and a chenin blanc, all of which are scintillatingly mineral, savoury, round and lengthy. An absolute bomb of mouthfeel and lusciousness of fruit. The amphora is perfectly matched to Perry’s style as the clay gently nudges the wine in the shape it is naturally attending, allowing the full fruition of fruit purity.
Josephine Perry remains a force to be reckoned with in the natural wine world. Making her name in a region that was already packed to the brim with iconic vignerons, she joins the likes of Blind Corner and Si Vintners, South West winemakers focussing on natural, organic expressions of wine. Her work is exciting and fresh, and her unique perspective, straddling both the new and old worlds of wine making, affords her a distinct edge. One to watch, for sure.
Article by: Ceren Guler