Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Next Year's wine

The Cellar Door at Brown Hill

Tasting the wine


Margaret River Area

The Margaret River area has white sandy beaches, famous surf and a moderate climate. The fact that the Margaret River area makes good wine is an added bonus. There are 90 wineries and 5 micro breweries in a very compact area which must be a drinker's paradise.

During the past 35 years a thriving wine industry has developed with many wineries appearing each year. The Margaret River Visitors Centre hosts the Wine Tourism Showroom and this is recognised as being the most advanced and high-tech of its kind in the country. The centre features bottle displays from all the wineries, a video giving a good insight into the area and wine making, a sensory display of the different aromas in the different wines and plenty of literature to read. The centre is a good place to start before going out and discovering the real thing.

Surrounded by open water on three sides, the wine region is almost completely free of pollutants. Year round it is swept by the pure, cool sea breezes blowing in from the Southern and Indian Oceans. It is one of the areas in Australia where the four seasons are clearly defined with a good rainfall in the winter months and temperatures rarely going below 11 degrees. The summer temperatures rarely rise above 32 degrees.

In a recent tasting of wines in Sydney by six top wine experts, Margaret River Chardonnay took 4 places in the top ten and six in the top twenty showing how good the wine is. As well as Chardonnay, Semillon is also another great wine that seems to benefit from the cooler climes. They also make some great reds.

The only cellar door we visited in the area was Brown Hill; this had been recommended to us by the bar man in the local pub we had visited. He told us that their reds were the best kept secret in the area, well with a recommendation like that you just have to go and visit. Unfortunately they only sell at the cellar door or over the internet www.brownhillestate.com.au

Brown Hill is a small family run vineyard owned by the Baily family, the son is the wine maker and mum sells at the cellar door. The drive up to the winery takes you through the vines and you can see the grapes just waiting to be picked. We were informed that the vines are dry grown, meaning they are not irrigated, and this stresses them producing a better flavour. They also produce a lower yield than other vineyards which gives their wine a more concentrated flavour.

We tasted four wines. The Sauvignon Blanc Semillon had a tropical fruit and gooseberry aroma giving it a fresh bracing palate. The Ivanhoe Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 is a big rich wine with intense cherry and plum aromas. The taste is of lush berries. The Croesus Reserve Merlot 2005 has a bouquet of plum, blackberries, spices and liquorice with a succulent taste and silky tannins. The Finiston Reserve Shiraz 2005 had an aroma of cherries supported by vanillin oak and a hint of chocolate, the palate is of rich dark fruits. Paddy's Red is a blend of Shiraz and cabinet sauvignon which had a real gutsy fruity flavour.

Our other tasting was in the local pub, where a good selection of local wines can be bought. I tried the Evans and Tate Un-oaked Chardonnay which had a citrus aroma and a nice dry finish and the Settlers Ridge organic Sauvignon Blanc had an aroma of green fruit with a nice crisp taste. Jeff tried the Vasse Felix Merlot which had the aroma of cherries, mulberries with a hint of spice with a great taste.

We found trying the wine's in the pub much cheaper, as even if you are tempted to buy bottles they do not sell it to go.

We will soon be leaving the wine growing regions behind as we move up north. There is only the Swan Valley area, north of Perth, left then there is nothing until we reach Brisbane in Queensland over on the east coast. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the different wines in Australia and that I have tempted you to go out and look for some wines from the different regions we have visited.

My descriptions of the aromas and palate of the wine is usually taken from either the wine bottle or the tasting notes supplied at the cellar doors. I was told by someone from the industry that the descriptions are written by the winemakers and they find this one of the more difficult of their tasks. It is known in the trade as the Public Information Service or P.I.S for short. Make of that what you will!



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