After quite a gap we are once more back in a wine region, this being our first in Western Australia.
The Great Southern has a number of sub regions such as Mt Barker, Denmark, Porongrups and Albany. The topography varies from the surf pounded beaches and undulating Karri forests to the dry bush area country of Frankland and the hill ranges in the Porongrups. It is this diversity that gives the area its strengths, the cooler areas of Denmark and Albany produce lovely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir whilst the perfect Riesling, Shiraz and Cabinet Sauvignon are grown around Mt Barker. The Porongrup high country produces the steely, crisp, slightly floral style of Riesling in comparison to the fuller, riper more citrus style produced in the lower warmer areas.
Our wine tasting was in the Denmark area where the growing of vines and the production of wine has transformed the rolling green countryside. The former timber and fruit growing industry along with the dairy industry has now become Western Australia's most exciting cool climate wine growing area.
Denmark boasts four state of the art wineries amongst seventeen in total. We tasted at one of these Howard Park.
The Howard Park wines have been aged in the barrel for ten years and are good for cellaring. At £35 per bottle they do not offer these for tasting, I wonder why? Even if we had tasted them I don't think we would have been buying, well we don't have a cellar to keep them in. The winery also makes wine under the MadFish Label, the wine we tasted. We tried the Riesling, the Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon and the Shiraz.
The Shiraz has characteristic regional spiciness and to enhance it a lot of Viognier has been added to produce a great concentration of flavour and character. It had a light palate with a slight peppery taste that is characteristic of Shiraz.
The 2004 Chardonnay is un-wooded and is a wine with nice ripe flavours and a refreshing acidity; it has a delicate after taste.
The 2006 Madfish Sauvignon Blanc Semillon had an aroma of tropical fruits and a taste to match leaving a slight fizz in the mouth and a crisp clean after taste.
The 2006 Riesling won the Gold Medal in the Quantas Wine Show of Western Australia in 2006. This wine displays a citrus blossom aroma with limey mineral flavours leaving a crisp zesty finish.
Madfish Wines were named after Madfish Bay which is close to Denmark and just along from Elephant Rocks, a bay we visited. "Local legend has it, that when two conflicting tides stir the ancient waters of Madfish Bay, the fish go crazy and leap towards the southern sky" I don't know if that is true but can assure you the wines are really nice. The bottles have a distinctive label inspired by Maxine Funagalli, an indigenous artist from Western Australia, it is of a turtle surrounded by fish, the turtle signifies perseverance and tolerance.
Howard Park and Madfish wines are distributed in both the UK and the USA. If you would like to know where you can go to the following website of the distributor: in the USA Blue Water Wine Company www.bluewaterwine.com and in the UK Bibendum Wine Ltd www.bibendum-wine.co.uk
We left the winery and continued on the tourist drive until we came to a sign advertising avocados for sale. As we are great lovers of avocados we decided to go and investigate. Imagine our surprise when we discovered it was not only an avocado farm but also a winery, so we just had to do some testing.
Mariner's Rest has an Anchor on the label symbolising the Cocking Family's (the owners) former 28 years connection with the Royal Australian Navy. They make six wines and we tasted them all.
The 2006 Autumn Gold has a pale straw colour with tinges of green. The aromas presented are of tropical fruits with a hint of citrus flowery notes. When you taste it you get a great combination of ripe tropical fruits, lemons and limes and it leaves a nice fresh after taste.
The 2005 Autumn Red is similar to a rosé with a bright red colour with crimson hues. It has aromas of plums, mulberries and spice. The flavour is of black cherries and raspberries with hints of spice.
The 2005 Chardonnay has a bright yellow with green tinges, the palate is of nectarine's, blossoms and spice. The taste is a delicate combination of peaches and cream with a nice long citrus finish.
The 2005 Pinot Noir has a lovely dark crimson colour and gives an aroma of stewed plums and black cherries. The taste was of rich dark fruit with a hint of chocolate leaving a nice after taste.
The 2003 Shiraz had a lovely deep magenta colour and just oozed the rich smell of dark berries. The palate was of black cherries, with a peppery taste in the after taste.
Nelson's Blood is an aged Tawny Port that has a flavour full of fruit characteristics. We were told it was nice poured over ice and topped with soda water.
The lady at the cellar door was quite a character, she had contracted laryngitis last year which had left her vocal chords damaged so we were all whispering. I must say it is the quietist tasting we have undertaken so far. She produced a plate of biscuits, cheese and pickled walnuts to go with the wine, it was like being at a cheese and wine party but in quite an exotic setting on a hill overlooking the avocado plantation.
After a nice tasting session we left with 6 bottles of wine, 6 large avocados and a port glass. As we were about to leave she presented us with a bag of small avocados as a gift.
It was now time to have lunch and we had selected a place to call. This was another winery, Ducketts Mill Wines, which was also a farm producing it's own cheese and fudge. We had read in the tourist book that it was a good place to sample wine and a cheese platter while sitting on the terrace. The cheese platter consisted of three hard cheeses, three soft cheeses, a dish of home made chutney and a basket of crusty bread. I chose a rosé wine which was a light fruity wine with nice delicate flavours, Jeff chose an un-wooded Chardonnay which had crisp citrus flavours with a nice dry finish. Both wines complemented the cheese very well.
We left this cellar door with a nice selection of cheese, a tub of clotted cream and some delicious fudge.
We are now travelling on to our next wine region which is the Margaret River area with a motor home nicely stocked up with good wine, nice cheese and lots of avocados. Suffice to say we are enjoying ourselves.