About Devil’s Lair

About Us

Devil’s Lair is fortunate to be able to tread its own path, unrestrained by tradition, with a sense of wisdom that comes from a strong bond with an ancient land. It’s the intuition of a talented team, the freedom to do things differently and the subtlety of the soils that makes Devil’s Lair wines respected for their great clarity, delicate fruit flavours and elegant structure.

Our Story

You have found yourself in the Devil’s Lair. Follow the chapters for a glimpse into a mysterious land that produces truly unique wines and perhaps a few surprises.

 The Devil’s Lair philosophy

Devil’s Lair is fortunate to be able to tread its own path, unrestrained by tradition, with a sense of wisdom that comes from a strong bond with an ancient land.

It’s the intuition of a talented team, the freedom to do things differently and the subtlety of the soils that makes Devil’s Lair wines respected for their great clarity, delicate fruit flavours and elegant structure.

The First People

Deep in the south of Margaret River, beyond where most tourists venture, stand towering karri trees resilient and proud, protecting a hidden cave they call the Devil’s Lair. This unassuming and somewhat shy cave is one of Australia’s most significant archaeological sites, holding evidence of human life nearly 50,000 years ago and some of the earliest records of Australian life.

Phil Sexton

It was in the Devil’s Lair cave that the young student, Phil Sexton, found himself gaining practical insight while studying archaeology at university. The significance of this moment must have stayed with him, because years later, after he’d become a well-established innovator in the Western Australian hospitality industry, Phil purchased land in order to establish a winery. Located near the Devil’s Lair site, he decided to call his future wine brand Devil’s Lair.

An Ancient Land

The ancient soils in which the Devil’s Lair vines flourish today were forming thousands of years ago, centuries before Margaret River was named such and well before anyone dreamt of growing wine in the region. It wasn’t until 6,000 years ago that the shoreline of Margaret River resembled its current shape. Once the shoreline became stable, the sand dunes formed, gradually becoming cemented as soils and slowly developed their character.

These nutrient-rich soils have provided sustenance for flora and fauna ever since, but remain changing at the hand of the natural elements and those who tend the land. When Phil Sexton arrived in this cool, southerly part of Margaret River in 1980, he set about transforming what was by then essentially cleared land into the Devil’s Lair vineyards that still exist today, with the help of his viticulturist, Simon Robertson.

Custodian Simon Robertson

Simon’s dedication to the site has seen him celebrate 20 years as viticulturist of Devil’s Lair. He is witness to the vast changes that have taken place resulting in a site that is visually understated, yet stunning, with a varied landscape of undulating slopes, blanketed by vines and vegetation, supported by the cool, maritime climate of Margaret River. With a keen sense of the idiosyncrasies of each block, the microclimates within the estate and the ways in which each and every vine responds in different conditions, Simon brings a sense of continuity with what was originally envisaged, what Devil’s Lair has become and what the future holds.

Oliver Crawford’s winemaking touch

When Oliver Crawford arrived at Devil’s Lair in 2008, he was a young, accomplished winemaker with a flair for Chardonnay and 10 years under his belt at Penfolds. He immediately recognised the potential of Devil’s Lair and set about refining the wine style through tiny tweaks and an eye for detail. In other cases, it meant sweeping changes, such as sourcing Cabernet fruit from Wilyabrup in the north, rather than the estate vineyard in the south. Oliver’s legacy was to be meticulous, to continually question and refine a winemaking style that is as much about intuition, as it is about science.

A new chapter: Winemaker Luke Skeer

Luke Skeer relocated to Margaret River after seven years at Wynns Coonawarra Estate in South Australia. As Senior Winemaker, Luke leads the team working with winemakers Ben Miller and Matt Godfrey, viticulturalist Simon Robertson and the broader team to craft outstanding examples of Margaret River’s hero varieties.

The modern age of Devil’s Lair

The Devil’s Lair stable now includes Devil’s Lair, Dance with the Devil and most recently, The Hidden Cave collection. Focused on the varieties that fare best in Margaret River, Devil’s Lair Chardonnay is renowned for its taut acidity, excellent minerality, great length and structure and subtle oak influences; Devil’s Lair Cabernet Sauvignon is typically complex and layered with lively aromas, fine tannins and subtle oak characteristics.

The Devil’s Lair wine labels recreate a Tasmanian tiger’s image together with a mysterious fifth leg – both are elements that were found amongst the remains in the Devil’s Lair cave during decades of archaeological research. The exact location of the Devil’s Lair cave remains a mystery to all but few, and those who are close enough to visit do so in the company of a traditional elder of the land.

The significance of this site is not lost on the Devil’s Lair team. Just as the cave remains a rich source of primary information for those committed to mapping out the lives and lifestyles of the early Australians, it continues to provide a source of inspiration for us. Vintage to vintage, Devil’s Lair strives to capture the essence of the land in order to create wines that are revered in their own way.

OUR PROCESS

For the winemaking team at Devil’s Lair, vintage is a time of exhilaration, winemaking flair and a frenetic pace combined with a healthy dose of chance. It’s when months’ and months’ of tending the vines – pruning, planting, managing the elements – and weeks of meticulous preparation in the winery all pay off. It’s a delicate balance, where the team is at the hands of Mother Nature and everyone works tirelessly to ensure that we get the very best out of the season.

Early Mornings

The still of the early morning belies the frenetic pace at Devil’s Lair estate.

While the sun gently rises, much of the Chardonnay grapes have already been picked in the cool of the night to ensure we retain freshness and purity.

Hand Picked Vines

During vintage, the Devil’s Lair team is expanded to help with the pace of vintage.

Our vines are carefully hand-picked to help retain purity and delicacy and ensure that the grapes arrive in the winery in pristine condition.

Freshly picked grapes

Our Chardonnay blocks are some of the most southerly vineyards in Margaret River.

The cooling breeze from the Southern Ocean that sweeps through the vines each day are perfect for Chardonnay, as you can see from these freshly picked bunches of grapes.

Crushed Immediately

The intensely vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is picked, crushed immediately and is then left on skins for up to eight weeks to develop rich colour and structural tannins.

Each batch of fruit is handled separately in the winery to develop unique characters before being blended together to create the final wine.

French Oak Barriques

After spending time on skins, our Devil’s Lair ‘Hidden Cave’ Cabernet Shiraz is transferred to mature for 12 months in French Oak barriques.

During this time, the barriques will be constantly monitored, tasted and topped up before the wine is fully mature and ready for bottling.

Our Team

Luke Skeer and Simon Robertson are joined by a talented team of winemakers, viticulturists and staff – local and afar – who support the winemaking process right through to the point at which it reaches your glass.

Luke Skeer

SENIOR WINEMAKER

As a passionate advocate of Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s fitting that Luke Skeer is complementing his extensive experience in Cabernet winemaking at Coonawarra with his new role of Senior Winemaker at Margaret River’s Devil’s Lair.

Luke Skeer grew up in the Coonawarra wine region of South Australia and as a fourth generation local, it’s not surprising that he developed a desire to craft wine from a young age. After working his first vintage while still at school in 1996, Luke went on to study Oenology at Adelaide University while working in McLaren Vale and also completed vintages in Coonawarra, Bordeaux and the Barossa Valley.

In 2008, Luke became a Winemaker at Wynns where he was responsible for crafting the finest expression of Coonawarra each vintage. While at Wynns, Luke was awarded the Wine Society’s Australian and New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year in 2013.

In 2015, Luke sought a new challenge and was delighted to take up the position of Senior Winemaker at Devil’s Lair in July 2015. The role is allowing him to expand his skills in winery management, further cultivate the team and family-like culture of the winery and work more with Chardonnay. Stylistically, Luke believes the Devil’s Lair wines are set to soar. He is looking forward to better understanding Margaret River’s subregions, embracing a different style of Cabernet, immersing himself in Chardonnay.

Luke and his young family are already enjoying settling into Margaret River. As a keen surfer, living five minutes from some of the country’s best breaks and enjoying the beach lifestyle with the kids is a huge benefit. In addition, the region’s outstanding wines, striking beauty and great people make Margaret River an undeniably great place to call home.

Simon Robertson

VITICULTURIST

Simon’s dedication to the site has seen him celebrate 20 years as viticulturist of Devil’s Lair. Simon is charged with the management, direction and growing of 130 hectares of premium Margaret River vineyards planted with eight varieties including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.

Simon’s vision for the Devil’s Lair vineyards is simple: in partnership with esteemed winemaker Oliver Crawford, he seeks to cultivate the best possible Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and continue Devil’s Lair’s benchmark-setting reputation for these varieties and the Margaret River region.

For Simon, this is both his passion and his predicament. Viticulture is a constantly evolving pursuit, always at the mercy of Mother Nature and never the same each year. This is, of course, what drives this passionate, competitive and mildly outrageous viticulturalist to do the thing he loves most with a brand he lives and breathes. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Simon’s formal wine industry experience began. Simon was born into a winemaking family and grew up in South Australia’s Coonawarra region, viticulturally renowned its significant terra rossa soils. Internationally, Simon has worked in both the new and old wine worlds at Chateau Villars in Bordeaux and the Swanson Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Closer to home, Simon honed his skills at some of the renowned South Australian vineyards, including Petaringa, Rouge Homme and Penfolds. Simon’s expertise is anchored to academic qualifications and years of industry training.

Simon has completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture specialising in viticulture from Charles Sturt University, has undertaken a number of technical wine assessment courses and numberous training programs in specific viticultural practices in order to stay abreast of changes in the industry.

Ben Miller

WINEMAKER

Ben was born in the Hunter Valley, NSW surrounded by vineyards and fine wine. He spent his uni holidays picking grapes in the local vineyards giving him his first exposure to winemaking. Ben studied Biochemistry at Sydney University and realised early in life his passion for applying his scientific skills as a winemaker. “Biochemistry gave me an insight into the unique relationship between vineyard and vine and it seemed like a natural progression to start making wine”.

After Ben graduated in 1996, his first job was with Tyrrells in the Hunter Valley and this sparked an even greater interest in the mysteries of great wine. Soon winemaking became a way of life for Ben and he headed off to Languedoc in the south of France to further his knowledge. Travelling through Bordeaux, Champagne, Alsace, Rhône and Burgundy, Ben’s passion for winemaking was further ignited.

In 1999, Ben moved to Adelaide to further his academic pursuits in Biochemistry at the University of Adelaide, completing a Diploma in Oenology. Having moved to South Australia he enjoyed the opportunity of working on vintages in McLaren Vale and Coonawarra. In 2011, Ben moved to Margaret River and joined the Devil’s Lair team where his passionate interest and curiosity for winemaking has been an invaluable contribution.

Today, Ben is an important part of the winemaking team, working with red wines predominantly.

Matt Godfrey

WINEMAKER

Matt Godfrey grew up in one of Australia’s premier wine regions, the Barossa Valley, in a winemaking family. Surprisingly, it was Matt’s early exposure to winemaking that lead him to initially follow different pursuits, namely aquaculture. It wasn’t until Matt caught the travel bug and was looking to fund his trips overseas and in Australia that he worked during vintages at the Wolf Blass winery that he found his passion for wine. Matt’s big move to Devil’s Lair was in 2014, inspired by a love for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chasing a new challenge and experience, Matt was drawn to Margaret River for its winemaking and viticultural diversity, from its Southern and Indian maritime influences. Matt loves the pictoresque location of Devil’s Lair that “makes it very rewarding coming to work each day, especially with such a passionate and fun team who are so great to work with.”

Jarrah Prior

TECHNICAL ASSISTANT

Much like the Fifth Leg, Jarrah Prior is often described as a refined larrikin. His easy going nature, jovial attitude and passion for Margaret River wines make him the perfect fit to undertake the role of winemaker and ambassador. Jarrah studied a Bachelor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University, graduating in 2012. Originally from the Mornington Peninsula, Jarrah completed his first vintage in the Yarra Valley, where he developed a serious love for Chardonnay.
Jarrah also completed vintages in the Napa Valley, adding Cabernet Sauvignon to his bow, before accepting a role with the Devil’s Lair team in Margaret River. Coming into his fourth vintage in Margaret River, Jarrah is truly feeling at home and loves being part of the winemaking team. He is excited to take on a leadership role for Fifth Leg which shares such a complementary ideology to his own. Jarrah’s love of the ocean and surf make Margaret River a dream location to call home. He the experience, attitude and curiosity that makes him an outstanding Fifth Leg Winemaker. With a passion grounded in Cabernet and Chardonnay, Jarrah relishes the opportunity to experiment with the many varieties he is now custodian for under Fifth Leg. He will continue to work and to play with these two varieties.

Devil’s Lair

Devil’s Lair is pushing new boundaries as it continues to redefine its styles and produce some of the southern region’s finest wines. The institution of a talented team, the freedom to do things differently and the subtlety of the soils results in wines of great clarity, delicate fruit flavours and elegant structure.

 

OWNERS : Treasury Wine Estates
WINEMAKERS : Luke Skeer
ESTABLISHED : 1981
VINEYARD LOCATION : Margaret River
VARIETIES : Chardonnay, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc

WINE PRICES : $24.99 – 119.99
PHONE : 1300 651 650
WEBSITE : www.devils-lair.com
DISTRIBUTION : Retail

Devil’s Lair The Hidden Cave sauvignon blanc semillon ($25)

Vibrant and pure expression of this blend. Has a crunchy mouthfeel with a juicy lemon flavour. Plenty of tropical fruits and just a touch of herbaceousness. It all hangs together so well. Chalky acid finishes things nicely.
SCORE 90/100 CELLAR 3 Years

Devil’s Lair chardonnay 2015 ($50)

Another really impressive chardonnay from this producer. It has continued down that fine and slightly leaner path and the results are impressive. Mealy grapefruit with great texture and depth of fruit. It’s been expertly crafted with a perfect balance of oak and fruit. A most elegant and expressive chardonnay that might be finer but loses nothing in Margaret River power
SCORE 95/100 CELLAR 8 years

Devil’s Lair 9th Chamber chardonnay 2015 ($100)

Marvellous super premium chardonnay that was introduced a few years ago to sit top of the tree at Devil’s Lair. It’s made in a delicate and most restrained manner, yet you can’t take the essential power and intensity out of a Margaret River wine. This is so precise with a white peach and grapefruit intensity carrying to a very long finish.
SCORE 98/100 CELLAR 10 years

Devil’s Lair The Hidden Cave chardonnay 2016 ($25)

An impressive chardonnay, especially for this price. Plenty of flavour and persistence here. It’s been wound tightly with a core of intense fruit controlled with excellent integration of oak. Slightly nutty with a splash of grapefruit and a sliver of white peach. Another year and this will be pretty special.
SCORE 92/100 CELLAR 5 years

Devil’s Lair cabernet sauvignon 2014 ($50)

Highly scented bouquet of floral minty red berry with some deeper notes of cassis. The palate is the feature here. It is classically cabernet – all power and purpose – yet it’s remarkably smooth and seamless such is the integration. Quality oak has played a big part in this and completes what is a very good wine.

SCORE 96/100 CELLAR 15 years

Our Land

The ancient soils in which the Devil’s Lair vines flourish today were forming thousands of years ago, centuries before Margaret River was named such and well before anyone dreamt of growing wine in the region. These nutrient-rich soils have provided sustenance for flora and fauna ever since, but remain changing at the hand of the natural elements and those who tend the land.

Since 1981 when Devil’s Lair was established, the viticultural team, under the guiding hand of Simon Robertson, has overseen a site that is visually understated, yet stunning, with a varied landscape of undulating slopes, blanketed by vines and vegetation, supported by the cool, maritime climate of Margaret River. With a keen sense of the idiosyncrasies of each block, the microclimates within the estate and the ways in which each and every vine responds in different conditions, Simon brings a sense of continuity with what was originally envisaged, what Devil’s Lair has become and what the future holds.

During this time, the team has sought to continually monitor and improve the site and encourage biodiversity. For every hectare of vineyard planted, there is 1.14 hectares of natural vegetation retained or planted.

Depending on the time of year, you’ll see sheep and lamas from neighbouring farms graze through the vineyards, to keep grasses down, guinea fowls and chickens, and the occasional kangaroo and emu. Our 14-hectare dam, which is used for irrigation during the summer months, is also home to fish and waterlife.

The Devil’s Lair site has EntWine Australia accreditation for both the vineyard and winery. EntWine Australia was launched by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) to internationally recognise wineries’ environmental practices according to recognised standards. EntWine certification monitors key aspects such as fuel, water, energy and fertiliser use allowing producers to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Devil’s Lair Winery also follows Freshcare, which is the largest Australian national on–farm assurance program for fresh produce; proudly providing on-farm food safety & quality and environmental certification with Codes of Practice ensuring that fresh produce is safe to eat, has been prepared to customer specifications and legislative requirements; and has been grown with care for the environment. Vintage to vintage, Devil’s Lair strives to capture the essence of the land in order to create wines that are revered in their own way.

Wine Making Process

For the winemaking team at Devil’s Lair, vintage is a time of exhilaration, winemaking flair and a frenetic pace combined with a healthy dose of chance. It’s when months’ and months’ of tending the vines – pruning, planting, managing the elements – and weeks of meticulous preparation in the winery all pay off. It’s a delicate balance, where the team is at the hands of Mother Nature and everyone works tirelessly to ensure that we get the very best out of the season.

The still of the early morning belies the frenetic pace at Devil’s Lair estate.
While the sun gently rises, much of the Chardonnay grapes have already been picked in the cool of the night to ensure we retain freshness and purity.

During vintage, the Devil’s Lair team is expanded to help with the pace of vintage.
Our vines are carefully hand-picked to help retain purity and delicacy and ensure that the grapes arrive in the winery in pristine condition.

Our Chardonnay blocks are some of the most southerly vineyards in Margaret River.
The cooling breeze from the Southern Ocean that sweeps through the vines each day are perfect for Chardonnay, as you can see from these freshly picked bunches of grapes.

The intensely vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is picked, crushed immediately and is then left on skins for up to eight weeks to develop rich colour and structural tannins.
Each batch of fruit is handled separately in the winery to develop unique characters before being blended together to create the final wine.

After spending time on skins, our Devil’s Lair ‘Hidden Cave’ Cabernet Shiraz is transferred to mature for 12 months in French Oak barriques.
During this time, the barriques will be constantly monitored, tasted and topped up before the wine is fully mature and ready for bottling.

Cellar Door

10943 Bussell Highway,
Forest Grove,
Western Australia, 6286

CONTACT

Phone tel:1300651650

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RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017